The Horror Honeys: If the LIES don't kill you...the TRUTH will.

If the LIES don't kill you...the TRUTH will.

A Sci-Fi Honey Book Review

Wool – Hugh Howey

You know what I love? Post Apocalyptic stories. I fucking ADORE THEM. The Stand, The Road, The Passage… You know, I just realized I seem to have a thing for books with two-word titles that start with ‘The’. 

Anyway.

Wool takes place on a post-apocalyptic (YAY!) Earth, almost 200 years in the future.  Due to an unexplained cataclysmic event, Earth became a lifeless desert, the air so radioactive it pretty much melts your lungs in seconds, much like AXE body spray in an elevator.

What remains of humanity survives in the Silos, subterranean cities the extend over 100 stories beneath the surface.  Yerg, I get claustrophobic just thinking about it. They have one large screen on the top floor that shows the inhabitants the desolate world, via cameras outside.  But, you might ask, it gets a mite dusty out there, how the hell do they keep the lenses clean for 200 years?? I can’t even keep my smartphone glass clean for five effing minutes!!

Well muffins, the answer is: A Cleaning.

A Cleaning occurs when a person is convicted of a crime. They are sentenced to go outside in a suit that will enable them to briefly survive the harsh conditions, just long enough to take some wool and clean the lenses.  They then wander off and die on the surrounding hills, their dead bodies seen thereafter by the survivors, thanks to the camera they just cleaned.

“But Sci-Fi Honey,” You may ask, “Why in the name of gawd would I clean the fucking lenses for a bunch of dickheads who just sentenced me to painfully die alone of radiation poisoning??!! I’d just fucking keep walking and flip them the bird on camera on the way by!! Assholes!”

And yet everyone always cleans. No exceptions. And that is the question the story is based on: why do they clean?  People seeking the answer to that small question leads to a chain of events that causes the survivors to question everything, from how they came to be there, to what kind of life they want to lead, to who they want to lead them, uncovering secrets that change things forever. 

Wool started out as a self-published short story on Kindle, and after becoming popular online, became a series of five novellas , which were eventually amalgamated into a book.  Howey has since written a prequel novella, and a few additional ones to tie up the story. 

The book initially follows the character of Holston, the sheriff of Silo-18, with subsequent chapters focusing on the characters of Juliette, Jahns, and Marnes.  The author is like Joss Whedon, in that he has no problem killing anyone, main characters included, and that leads to incredible suspense – when things go to hell, you know that characters are in very real jeopardy.  I almost had a coronary about ten fucking times.  I LOVED IT!!  

Wool deals with issues such as secrecy and what governments should tell the populace, and whether there are things people shouldn’t know, whether or not people can deal with an unpleasant truth.  

There is also a ‘This has all happened before and will happen again’ theme in the book, which I am a fan of, a-la-Battlestar Galactica.

It’s really well written and the flow is generally great, the author adds great details that make it seem authentic. It’s really engaging, and for the most part flows really well.  The only weakness in my opinion probably stems from the fact that it was written as novellas. The final chapter/novella was the weakest one.  The pace of the writing REALLY sped up, like Howey was trying to wrap it up as fast as he could, so he wouldn’t have to write another chapter.  He also introduced some kids to the story late in the book, and it really weakened the whole experience for me.  It felt like he was trying to Disney-up the story a little so it wasn’t so bleak for the reader, and it didn’t work for me.  The ending felt a little pat, and like he chose the easy way out. Of course, I almost went on antidepressants after I finished ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy, so maybe a little Disney-ing helped my well-being, but it won’t net Howey a Pulitzer. 

Overall though, this was a fucking spectacular book, and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes a good dystopia. The vast majority of this book is amazing, I haven’t read a book that obsessively since The Passage. Check it out, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.


4 abandoned Silos out of 5.