While I ended up liking this novel, or collection of three novellas, it didn’t grab me in the same way that its predecessor, Wool, did. The three stories combined tell the story from the beginning of the silos, and take the reader up to the end of Wool, where Silo 18 has become aware of at least part of what is going on.
I picked this one up in a tiny bookstore in remote northern Canada, and it was one of the best impulse purchases I have made in ages. I really enjoyed Howey’s Wool.
Goodreads: In a ruined and toxic landscape, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.
His fateful decision unleashes a drastic series of events. An unlikely candidate is appointed to replace him: Juliette, a mechanic with no training in law, whose special knack is fixing machines. Now Juliette is about to be entrusted with fixing her silo, and she will soon learn just how badly her world is broken. The silo is about to confront what its history has only hinted about and its inhabitants have never dared to whisper. Uprising.
I got into the game very late with this one, but in the case of this book, better late than never — this was a fantastic novel that I really enjoyed and can’t wait to keep going with the series. I love the story behind the publication of Wool, as well: that a truly talented author saw success based on the merit of his once little-known story.
Since Wool has already been pretty acclaimed amongst Cannonballers, I won’t really go on at length about it. I do want to, in particular, praise the characterization and that Howey’s gradual introductions of new character POVs didn’t ever feel overwhelming or excessive. Each added POV rounded out the developing story by providing insight into the different factions within the silo. Regarding his stories, Howey has said: “A theme in my books is the celebration of overcoming odds and of not allowing the cruelty of the universe to change who you are in the process.” Indeed, his characters are imbued with different backgrounds and motivations that inform their actions, but even within the context of uprising, class warfare, and “choosing sides,” the main players have an individual light that makes them more compelling and human than simply a rote war drone or even the stock iconoclast rebel.
Looking forward to Shift and eventually Dust.
Here’s the good news: I thought Dust was way better than Shift.
Not quite so amazing as Wool.
And yet, even though I wasn’t as blown away by Dust as I had hoped, I’m still quite in awe of Hugh Howey. Two years ago, he was just a guy who self-published a short story on Amazon. And these days, most people I know have at least heard of him, even if they haven’t read any of his books. He’s got a movie deal. He made a huge pile of money for Dust. So, good on you, Hugh. You deserve it.
I don’t want to get into details or spoilers, but I can easily say that Dust gives answers to almost all of the questions raised in the previous books. We find out a lot of “whys” and “hows” about life underground in Georgia. The action neatly jumps between Silos 17 & 18 (Juliette’s and Solo’s homes), as well as Silo 1, where Donald and Charlotte are still trying to piece the past several hundred years together.
And, I’ll admit, I was a bit bored for the first half of the book.
Something happens, and I couldn’t put it down after that. I stayed up until the wee hours of the night (which I never do anymore), because I needed to know. I needed to know about the plan that Thurman and his cohorts dreamed up for the residents of the silos. Why are the silos ranked? How is the population control lottery arranged? What happens when a silo slips beyond the control of the men on shift in Silo 1? And what does WOOL mean, anyway?
Character wise, I was glad to have a lot of Juliette back in this book — I missed her in Shift. And was also glad to see Solo’s character really have a chance to grow into a strong presence, into a real father figure for the kids left alone in Silo 17. And it was exciting to read as Donald raced against the clock (as his health is clearly not going to improve while he hacks away into his bloody rags) to find out the truth, whereas I didn’t find Donald’s stuff too exciting in Shift. Will he and Charlotte ever find out if the blue sky they thought they saw was real? Will Donald’s true identity ever be revealed? Will Charlotte have to live in secrecy forever? Yikes. Way more exciting than whining about Helen and Anna and wondering about nanos.
All in all, I’m really glad I read the entire trilogy, which is something I haven’t had the pleasure of saying too frequently (I’m looking at you, Chemical Garden).
Three and a half stars for Dust. Four stars for the trilogy as a whole.
You can read more of my reviews on my blog.
Cannonball Read V: Book #30/52
Wool is one of my favorite books that I’ve read so far this year. Shift is a prequel of sorts to Wool that explains why people were living in underground silos with almost no knowledge about the world outside. It’s hard to explain too much about it without giving too much away, but the book starts before the silos were even built. A politician with an architect background is commissioned to work on a top secret project and from there the story switches back and forth between his life before the silos and his life afterwards. Because of deep freezing technology, we can follow the same people over hundreds of years. Simply put them in deep freeze and wake them up a century later! I have to say, that is a pretty interesting way to move the story forward to the far future without having to introduce totally new characters.
Wool was actually one of the first books I read this year. I remembered that I liked it (looking back – 3 stars) but the best part for me was the mystery. What was this silo? What had happened to the world? What was really out there? Having now finished the prequel Shift I now know the answers, but honestly, I think I liked the mystery better.
This book disappointed me because the grand reveal simply wasn’t all that grand. I did enjoy finding out more about the construction and population of the silos, but I really just couldn’t get behind the why. I also found the characters in this book to be less compelling and at some points I really just didn’t care. I did have to laugh at one point – the description given to the workers who come out of cryo and then spend the next 6 months counting down to the end of their shift when they get to switch off again… that sounds eerily like the people where I work. And we’re also governed by an aging white psychopath and I can never find a can opener in the lunchroom… OMG!
Chances are I will still probably read the third in the trilogy when it comes out, because I’m a bit of an OCD completist. That said, I’d suggest Wool to anyone as a good sci-fi book to try, but would probably not recommend Shift.
I remember downloading Wool ages ago. I saw Joel McHale tweet something out about how it was his new favorite sci-fi book and author. And the Kindle download was super cheap (or free? that’s super cheap), so I went for it. And then I left it there in my little Kindle cloud for a while and kind of forgot about it.
When I finally read Part One, I was hooked. I immediately downloaded the rest of Wool and tore through it. I loved the imagery of this futuristic world that we didn’t know too much about. I thought the ideas of baby lotteries and cleanings and different color overalls was brilliant. The story of the Mayor and her Deputy’s love from afar? Amazing. Beautiful.
What I liked best was that FINALLY I was reading a self-published Kindle book that wasn’t rubbish. It wasn’t a cutesy detective Evanovich knock-off or a creepy Dean Koontz wannabe. It was totally original and well done, and that in itself is worth 5 stars.
And then I read Shift. And while the writing is still great, and the ideas are still original, I just didn’t love it as much as Wool. In fact, I had a pretty hard time getting through it. It took me months. I would pick it up, read a chapter or two, and then move on to something else that I enjoyed reading instead. The secrets that are revealed via Donald and Anna and Senator Thurman were just too much for me. I mean, I love a good dystopian story as much as the next person, but this vision of the future was tough for me to read. I simply didn’t enjoy it, and for me, that’s a big issue.
But still. I’m still a huge fan of Hugh Howey. I’ll still be participating in the Pajiba book club discussion next week. And I’ll most definitely read Dust when it comes out later this month. But I don’t have a good feeling about the ending for our Silo residents. While I feel good about what Juliette and Lukas could potentially accomplish in their little world, I’m more concerned about how quickly Donald is becoming completely unhinged in Silo 1 and what he might be capable of as his time runs out.
4 stars for Wool. 3 stars for Shift.
Cannonball Read V: Book #13/52
5 stars: A favorite! Would read again.
Why did I wait so long to read this book?? It was fantastic. It was originally released as a short story (Part 1) and then the next five parts were released as novellas. The entire thing was eventually released as one volume called Wool Onmibus.
Part one is a stand alone story, but sort of acts as a prequel to the rest of the novellas. I was sucked in after that first story. The stories take place in a large underground silo that houses thousands of people because something happend outside making it a hostile environment for humans. They have outside cameras so the people in the silo can see that there is nothing out there but dust and grey clouds. It is absolutely forbidden to express any interest in going outside. If someone does, they are sent out for “cleaning”, where they are sent outside to clean the camera lenses and then die in the poisoned atmosphere. But what happened out there? Who build the silo? Why do the banished cleaners actually clean the lenses?
Good books suck. They keep you reading, dying to find out what happens next, but the more you read, the closer to the end of the journey you get. And when you finally reach the end, you wish you had taken a little more time to look around, listen to the bird song and smell the flowers, that you had made the journey longer somehow.
Hugh Howey’s Wool is such a book. The blurb on the back cover of the book claims it is a science fiction book, but if I had to describe it I would probably say it was a dystopian fantasy set in the future. At the core of the story is our heroine, Juliette. Juliette has just become the new sheriff for the top levels of an underground, 130 level deep silo, which is the home of a whole society. These people have lived there for ages and know no other truth than the silo around them. The only thing they know about the outside world is that it is dangerous, the air filled with toxic fumes. They also know that they can get sent out there to ”clean” (that is, die) if they break the rules.
Then Juliette, a strong, curious woman, starts asking the wrong kinds of questions which lands her in all sorts of trouble. To reveal anything more about the plot would spoil the fun, but suffice it to say that there is never a dull moment. The story is excellently paced, keeping you on the edge of your seat, yet without rushing the plot forward. And, if you are so inclined, it can get you thinking about the power (and dangers) of knowledge.
My only -minor- complaint about this book was that…
* Spoilers! *
Because Howey wrote the book as a series, the protagonists of the first couple of books disappear pretty quickly, creating some confusion as to whom we are supposed to be following. But that is only really an issue for a small part of the book, and the rest of it more than makes up for this minor ”flaw”.
* /Spoilers *
At 540 pages, you would think that this omnibus edition would feel like a very long read, but it only left me wanting more. Thankfully, the follow-up to Wool, Shift, is due out soon. Until then, I will have to find some other book to satisfy my cerebral wanderlust.