Up until about a week ago, I had never heard of Wool by Hugh Howey, and now that I’ve read it, I can’t believe I didn’t come across it until now. In my defense, it was only published last summer, and at 60 pages it’s barely more than a long short story, but still, this is the kind of book that gets people talking, and it’s only my bad luck that it took me so long to find it.
For such a short book, the depth of the world that Howey creates is incredible. Ostensibly, Wool takes place 400 years after an unknown apocalypse forces survivors underground into a huge concrete silo, where their descendants now live. The silo is sectioned off into hydroponic farms, manufacturing facilities, living quarters and community areas. The privilege of having children is decided by lottery, and law breakers are punished swiftly and severely, sent to their deaths in the poisoned air outside, while at the same time asked to provide one more service to those that condemned them.
I say “ostensibly” because part of what’s great about the story are the unanswered questions. What caused the apocalypse? How long have they really been down there? Who’s in control, and what do they know about the past? What is the world really like outside their self-imposed prison?
One of the good things about not discovering Wool until now is the fact that I may not have to wonder about those questions for very long. Wool was initially meant to be a one-off story, but it turned out to be so popular that Howey kept writing, and has so far released five books in the series, and is currently working on a sixth.
The ending of part one was amazing and left me wondering which direction the story would go. I can’t wait to jump into part two to find out.
My official rating for Wool is 8.5 megatons.