book review: wool by hugh howey

This book was sent to me by Random House Australia. I have been asked to write a review and my review is truthful to my opinion of the book.


I am always fascinated to read an authors imagining of what they think the future could be like some day. It’s always interesting to see how someone’s mind works and what conclusions they draw. When Random House Australia gave me the opportunity to review WOOL by Hugh Howey, after reading what the story was about, I was pumped. This is what I was told.

How would you live in a world where…

Grey skies are blue
And air is unbreathable

Where love is the greatest release
And the deadliest bond

Where every birth requires a death
And the choices you make could save lives – or destroy them.

This is Jules’ story
This is the world of WOOL.”

Sounds intriguing, right?

WOOL is somewhat of a success story. It started as a self-published eBook on Amazon, and purely through word-of-mouth, sold 200,000 copies. After reading it, it’s not hard to see why and makes sense that it reached the New York Times bestseller list. Hugh Howey has also written The Shift Trilogy, a prequel to WOOL that will be published next year and I cannot wait to get my hands on it. In fact, I loved WOOL so much that even though I have the eBook version, I want a paperback copy as well.

While I’m not a huge science fiction fan, I really love reading about alternate realities, even if it’s just set in a future that is vastly different to today. WOOL, which started out as a short, stand-alone story, and ends up in seven ‘books’ is set in the stark future where bright colours aren’t around, the air outside is toxic and the remaining people live in an enormous underground Silo that spans over one hundred stories.

There are strict laws in the Silo. No one mentions the uprisings of the past and what they were about. You must never talk about going outside lest your wish be granted and you are sent for “cleaning” which (almost always) ends in death. You cannot marry without approval and you cannot have a child unless you win a lottery in the aftermath of a cleaning. Every aspect of your life is controlled by those governing the Silo. Of course there are people who are suspicious and they are eliminated before their ‘virus’ spreads.

We are initially introduced to Holston, the sheriff of the Silo, but before you get too attached, we start to follow around Juliette, a girl from Mechanical who finds herself in a rather odd set of circumstances. Oddly, she is not a character I identify with. I say oddly because usually when I don’t identify on some level, I don’t really care what happens to them, but I definitely care what happened to Juliette and I found her outlook and actions very interesting. When things start to happen to the sheriff, the deputy and the mayor, and the head of IT becomes even more powerful, Juliette starts to question things.

There are so many things I want to tell you about WOOL but I won’t for fear of ruining vital plot points. I want you to be as surprised and shocked and taken aback as I was when I was reading it. As is the case with most futuristic novels set in post-apocalyptic earth, WOOL makes some interesting comments on society. It shows how easily some people will keep quiet and conform as they don’t want to deal with the conflict and on the flip side, how desperately people want to uncover the truth and rebel against authority even if it means risking their lives. How far will people go to uncover the truth?

It’s first and foremost a story about survival. As the book progresses, you often find yourself asking “will everyone be ok?”. The ending left me a little curious. I feel like there could be more to the WOOL universe, but it could also just be the kind of ending that leaves things open for interpretation.

The chapters are relatively short and fast-paced so it’s a relatively easy book to read. Every time I finished a chapter, I desperately wanted to move onto the next one.

As for why it’s called WOOL, I couldn’t really tell you. Maybe I’m missing something obvious, but I’m not quite sure. But in the end, it doesn’t really matters. What matters is the fact that this book is fantastic and is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I would strongly recommend it.

Head on over to Hugh Howey’s website to find out more about how you can get your hands on a copy.


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