Wool (Hugh Howey)

3 Star

Warning: Clicking through to Continue Reading will reveal spoilers.


After finishing this book a few weeks ago, I find myself thinking about it now and then throughout my day. The book follows characters through a “Big Brother” type future of our society, in which all of humanity has been forced into “silos” to protect themselves from the elements of an uninhabitable Earth. While the idea is not 100% original, Hugh Howey puts a unique spin on the typical Armageddon-type plot.

Warning: Spoilers past this point.

Wool presents a number of messages to the reader, some obviously standing out and others that require you to dig a little a deeper to pull out. The general plot of the book itself screams a warning to humanity that we do have the power to make the Earth uninhabitable, and to be cautious of our ability to do so. The survivors are forced into close living quarters, memories of the Earth as we know it today entirely erased from their minds. The government within the silo is largely a puppet for the IT department, who actually controls all aspects of the silo society. As citizens begin to discover more about their scenario and question their confinement, they are sent by the IT department out into the inhospitable Earth where they are killed by the elements and left for their peers to stare at until their bodies rot away.

The book clearly exhibits the dangers of a totalitarian society in which the government has total control and the citizens are kept (literally and figuratively) in the dark.The silo in which most of the book takes place experiences a bloody revolution that eventually brings a new government, which commits to a rule based in truth and a democratic system. However, the book’s message on revolution is not entirely cut and dry. The one character who does manage to escape, stumbles upon a second silo, which experienced a revolt half a century earlier and is a graveyard of carnage. The only inhabitants of the second silo are a few teens and one adult who managed to survive alone for all those years, but never established a prosperous society. In this sense the book presents best and worst case scenarios for revolution.

While I enjoyed Wool, I was unable to get through much of its sequel, Shift.  I had trouble staying focused as the book progressed, especially after realizing that Shift was not about the same characters as Wool, as an invested interest in the characters helps me push through a slower moving book. I might pick it up again, but for now it remains indefinitely on my “Currently Reading” shelf in Goodreads.

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