Monday, July 25, 2016

Guest blog: Wool by Hugh Howey reviewed by Cassie Phillips

Howey’s world in Wool is one that kills you just by breathing the air, one where humanity lives in filtered silos, and one where criminals are punished by being put out into the diseased atmosphere and made to clean the only window to the open air before being disintegrated by the caustic fumes of Earth.

The opening scene of Wool is, above all else, a disturbing one: the silo’s sheriff, lamenting the loss of his wife many years ago to “the cleaning” (the one criminals get that is always fatal), requests his own death by telling the government he wants to “go outside.”

This is how we meet our heroine Juliette, or Jules, a rough and tumble grease monkey whose ingenious works down in the mechanical sector of the silo have kept the bottom from falling out of society. She's not like the rest of the silo, who are obsessed with the possibility of one day moving back to the outside world, and when she takes up the position as the new sheriff, she's almost guaranteed to be a sturdy worker with no interest in what lies beyond that one window. But soon, even Jules comes to question how the children's books are so full of pictures of green and the outside world is so devoid of it—and that's where the story really begins.

For apocalypse fans, Howey delivers a grim reality; his sumptuous creation of the silo is complete with floors and floors of living quarters, a distinct hierarchy, a deep mechanic beast that keeps everything going and a religion that boasts of a benevolent God who created the silo as an escape from the outside world, while pulsating  under manmade luminescence. Though everything seems to be working like clockwork, secret discord bubbles under the surface, and it's not long before Jules gets caught up in it.

As an omniscient reader armed with the knowledge of Earth’s present—and Jules’s world past—it may seem too easy to get to the bottom of Wool’s mysteries, but the intrigue and carefully crafted infrastructure of the silo is one that doesn’t give away the game so easily. In fact, you will get to the end of the book only to find yourself asking the same questions you did when you began—which is a good thing, since Shift, the series second installment, is as good (if not better) than Wool.   

Despite its science fiction turn, Hugh Howey's bottom-up bestseller has been compared to Fifty Shades of Grey for its unconventional birth on the internet before becoming a publishing house darling—but for readers, that's a perfectly fine comparison, as long as it means Howey keeps getting his post-apocalyptic world adventures published.

About Cassie Phillips: 

Cassie Phillips is an entertainment and online security blogger, who enjoys reading her way through the stacks at Barnes and Noble. Check out other articles by Cassie at Culture Coverage and Secure Thoughts.

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