Wool is a dystopian science fiction novel self-published by Hugh Howey in 2011 on the Amazon Kindle publishing platform. It began as a short story that grew in popularity, with readers clamoring for more information about the world of the Silo. Howey obliged them by writing four more stories, each progressively longer than the last, that when read together function more like a novel than a collection of related stories.
And boy, what a novel it is.
Wool is an incredible book. The characters are deftly drawn and defy any conventional or genre stereotypes. The writing is crisp and confident. And the world-building is excellent.
Wool occurs in a post-apocalyptic future in which a group of humans lives completely underground in a massive Silo that is hundreds of stories deep. The world outside is a barren, lifeless wasteland, incapable of supporting life. The one great sin in the Silo is to want to go Outside. Even thinking such a thing is considered to be dangerous.
The novel is constructed as a series of layered mysteries: what happened to the world, and when? Why doesn’t anyone remember what happened? What is the world outside really like? And why is the secret worth murdering for?
I really don’t want to say too much more about the plot. It’s not an action-heavy story (though there is action, especially in the later parts), so if you’re looking for something whiz-bang this may not be for you. It is a thoughtful, well written, meticulously plotted book with a cast of terrific characters and a level of tension that ratchets up to an almost unbearable level before a very satisfying conclusion.
P.S. The book was recently picked up by 20th Century Fox for development under Ridley Scott’s production company. (Let’s hope Sir Ridley makes a better movie from Wool than the great looking but dreadful Prometheus.)