When I first heard about Wool, I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical. The premise just sounded a bit..well, odd. But trust me, this book is well worth sticking with – it's amazing!
Wool is set in a post-apocalyptic future. The few survivors of mankind now live together in a giant underground silo, but their lives are controlled by rules, regulations and a strict hierarchy. If anyone chooses not to conform, they're sent outside the silo for the 'cleaning' – a job that there's no return from. When Jules is unexpectedly thrust into a prominent position within the silo, she slowly begins to realise how rotten those at the heart of their community are – but when you've been brought up to conform, will anyone be brave enough to stand with her? Or is she entirely on her own?
While the idea of an underground silo sounds interesting, I really wasn't sure how it would work in practice. But once all the mechanics of it was explained, and you see how everyone works together to keep the silo running, I was hooked – especially once you find out what happens 'outside' the silo, during the cleaning.
Jules is the strong, smart female protagonist who's not afraid to speak her mind and does what she thinks is right, even if it goes against everything the silo teaches her to believe. It's interesting to see how she copes with a situation that is essentially thrust on her when she didn't want it, and then how she deals with it when everything (and I mean everything!) goes horribly horribly wrong.
This book was exceptionally well written – there were a couple of occasions where the author seemed to go off on a slight tangent about the background of the silo, or someone's particular job etc, but it wasn't such a big deal that it detracted from the overall story. The big twist in the story is just...amazing – while I had my suspicions about what was going to happen, I was still shocked (and thrilled) when they were confirmed. Despite it's slightly slow start, I honestly couldn't put this book down; it was fast paced, full of surprises and I really felt for all of the character's situations – I even felt a limited amount of sympathy for the bad guy in all this (Bernard), as Hugh Howey does a great job of explaining the background/rationale behind all the character's motivations and desires. I've already bought the second book in the trilogy, Shift, and I can't wait to get my teeth into it!
Final comments: Although it might sound like a bit of an odd/niche story, Wool is an exceptionally well written debut novel from Hugh Howey and well worth checking out!