Book Review: “Wool: Omnibus” by Hugh Howey

This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.

wool-omnibusI decided to read Wool on the recommendation of a co-worker who had been talking to me about the type of books I like and thought that it might be right up my alley taste-wise. The omnibus edition is actually five individual shorts/novellas rolled into one book that tells the entire tale.

Each of the pieces of the omnibus get a little bit longer each time with the first being about 50-ish pages in length and the final piece being about 250 pages long. The story gets more and more complex with each installment as the author adds additional viewpoints as the action picks up in speed and intensity. I think after having read the book that I’m glad I picked it up after all five parts had been published. To start the writing was a little stilted and stiff, but Howey really found his stride by the middle of part three. From that point on I was pretty hooked as I kept reading to find out what the end fate of the silo citizens was going to be.

The viewpoint in the first part is that of the sheriff as he is preparing to be sent out to clean as a result of a crime on his part. The second part is from the viewpoint of the mayor of the silo and then from that point on the viewpoint shifts between the new sheriff and a member of the IT team as they begin to discover what is really going on within their silo and perhaps in some silos they had no idea actually existed.

I’m not sure yet if I liked that Howey went from a single viewpoint in the first couple portions to multiple in the later portions. I felt like when he used a single viewpoint the story had a little more power behind it and once he got to the point where he needed extra narrators to tell the story effectively the plot became a little watered-down. It wasn’t so watered-down that I lost interest, but I could definitely tell a difference.

Wool is one of those stories that is heavy on the mystery and misdirection and very light on facts for a majority of the plot. Even once I finished there were still lots and lots of questions I had about what was going on. But, it seems like Howey might be interested in writing a lot more pieces to this story. I know he has already put together a trilogy of books that act as prequels to the Wool stories and I’m enjoying them quite a bit. I’m excited to see if some of my questions get answered as I work my way through them.

If you happen to be someone who likes reading science fiction that buries itself in secrets and twists and turns than this might be a series for you to try out. The author is getting better and better at telling the story he wants to tell with each successive installment he releases. I hope he doesn’t abandon the universe anytime soon.

Grade: C
Length: 550 pages

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