Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Review: Wool

Wool, by Hugh Howey

Wool is the kind of book that aspiring authors such as myself love to hate. This is because:
  • It's a good book idea, competently executed
  • The author self-published it on Amazon Kindle one novella at a time
  • The book became hugely popular
  • The author got a 'real' book deal out of it and released all the Wool novellas as one 500-page Wool omnibus that reads as one consistent novel
  • The book is being made into a movie now by Ridley Scott
Argh. I'm always jealous of authors who do something like this that seems in retrospect so easy. This book is good, but it's by no means brilliant or important or special. It's just an interesting (if slow) read that takes a few interesting turns. And the guy wrote it and released it bit by bit, picking up a bunch of fans along the way who wanted to see how the story turned out. This seems SO DOABLE. 

I wish I had the time and talent to do this. 

The book is about the whole known world living in a huge silo in the ground, because the air is toxic and humans can't be exposed to it. The silo is never described from the outside because the story is from the perspective of the people who live inside. The worst thing that can happen to a person is to be sent for 'cleaning,' which is to be banished outside the silo to clean the sensors that relay video images of the outer world onto a massive screen inside. 

Along the way, some people voluntarily get sent for cleaning. You get the impression that the air is actually OK to breathe and that the silo people have been lying to the occupants for hundreds of years. But the novel takes you through several twists and turns, so it's not all that easy to predict. Which makes for a good read.

But it is slow. Very slow. The first half of the book is extremely slow. It took me 3 weeks to read through that part alone. I almost gave up on the book. But then it got good and I finished the rest of the book in 3 days. So if you give this a shot, hang in there for a bit. And they do tend to kill off a lot of good and interesting characters. I never give authors or TV people credit for that. Yeah, we get that no one is safe. But when the characters are just disposable, you learn to not get attached to or invested in anyone. Especially if they are older or have a handicap or have an unresolved relationship or...

There's some sparse language - pretty much just from one character named Bernard. It's out of place because the rest of the book is really quite clean. And I will say that many of the twists get 'softened' subsequently. Like (minor spoiler) some person is attacking people and nearly killing them and it turns out to be a confused teenager. So the build up was for this scary dangerous serial killer type and then it was just a kid. That happens a few other times. Big threat/big lead up/weak payoff. But it does have the effect of being a page turner at the end, and I did like the ending. Could have ended many different ways, too, which is interesting. You get to write your own alternate Wool novel in your head. Which we all know you are dying to do.

3 1/2 out of 5: Two steel wool sensor cleaning pads up!

1 comment:

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