Wool by Hugh Howey

The Daily Express described Wool as “one of dystopian fiction’s masterpieces alongside the likes of 1984 and Brave New World.” Personally, I wouldn’t go that far. 1984 and Brave New World both pushed the boundaries of dystopic fiction. They expressed new ideas, had amazing writing, and felt believable. I was completely immersed in their storylines from the very first page to the very last. Plus, their ideas were more concise. The authors knew exactly what they wanted to say and they said it with style, finesse. 

And, while I’m not saying Wool wasn’t a good book with some insanely thought provoking scenes and interesting background story… it just wasn’t enough to compare. Dystopic fictions are meant to push our boundaries. They’re meant to make us question our society and even ourselves. How bad will the world get if we let it? The world of Wool just wasn’t bad enough for me. The limits the characters pushed didn’t come across as shocking or awful. Comparing Wool to the classics just doesn’t work for me. 

It especially doesn’t work because Wool is just too upbeat to be one of the classics. Classic dystopic literature doesn’t come across as overwhelmingly positive. There aren’t happy endings. There aren’t even endings that are remotely close to happy. More often than not, whoever the corrupt villain is in the story wins. And I love that. I would classify anything outside of that as too disjointed and different to be classic dystopia. At most, I would say it’s modern dystopic fiction. 

Beyond that, Wool wasn’t as believable as other fics. It required a strong dispension of belief in order for you to really enjoy it. For example, I couldn’t believe that the long-lived mayor of the silo knew so little about how the actual silo ran. There are 144 floors and they really only knew the bare basics about most of them. How could they run a society that they know nothing about? It didn’t feel well thought out. 

It also felt like it was missing an element of mind control or propaganda. I understood a lot of the system on how the silo worked and ran was based on keeping people separated, but that, again, wasn’t enough for me. Most dystopic fiction requires some way to manage citizens. How do you keep them under your control? Keeping them separated will never have the same effect as forcing endless propaganda down their throat or establishing some style of firm control over them. Considering the resources IT was given, I was surprised that they hadn’t established a way to listen in to all of their citizens. Monitoring their emails and private communications obviously wasn’t enough. 

Not to say, again, that I didn’t enjoy the book. I enjoyed the characters and the storyline, again, was interesting enough. I just couldn’t believe the story. I wanted more from it than what I got. There are thankfully other books in the series. I started the second book today and I am sincerely hoping for more development. The bones of this book are good. I need more flesh. 

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

The first book in the acclaimed, New York Times best-selling trilogy, Wool is the story of mankind clawing for survival. The world outside has grown toxic, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. The remnants of humanity live underground in a single silo. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they want: They are allowed to go outside. 

After the previous sheriff leaves the silo in a terrifying ritual, Juliette, a mechanic from the down deep, is suddenly and inexplicably promoted to the head of law enforcement. With newfound power and with little regard for the customs she is supposed to abide, Juliette uncovers hints of a sinister conspiracy. Tugging this thread may uncover the truth … or it could kill every last human alive.