Monday, January 22, 2018

Subterranean Dystopian Trilogy Starts Off With an A-Grade Bang

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Protected from the toxic air outside, a whole city of people live in a silo that extends 144 floors underground.  With no elevator or alternative way to move quickly from the bottom of the structure to the top (or vice versa), the residents remain mostly on their own floors, rarely making the arduous trip up to the first.  There's little to see there, anyway—only a ruined world, desolate and deadly.  Why bother?  Leaving the silo altogether would be suicide, so no one dares.  Only those who are forced out flee the safe, subterranean world.  Exile means almost instant death; no one survives that sentence.  

When the silo's venerable, long-time sheriff makes the shocking decision to leave the silo, he sets a life-changing chain of events in motion.  He selects a surprising candidate to take his place, 34-year-old mechanic Juliette "Jules" Nichols.  Unused to the comparative luxury of life on the silo's top floors, she struggles to find her place tackling a new job in an unfamiliar neighborhood.  Although she has no experience in law enforcement, she's smart and determined to do her job well.  It's only as she begins to study the inner workings of her community, however, that Jules realizes it's not quite the utopia it seems to be.  In fact, the silo hides some devastating secrets—revelations that could change everything.  The more Jules uncovers, the more her tenuous place at the top is jeopardized.  In order to make crucial changes, she'll have to risk everything to expose long-buried truth.  Will her efforts be successful?  Or will hers be the next corpse rotting away just outside the silo's sheltering walls?

Wool, the first book in a post-apocalyptic/dystopian trilogy by Hugh Howey, is a beast of a book.  At 500+ pages, it's hefty and yet, the novel never drags.  Propulsive and engrossing, it speeds along, capturing the reader's attention with complex characters, imaginative world-building, and an intriguing plot.  Yes, the novel embraces typical dystopian elements that will undoubtedly feel familiar to genre fans.  At the same time, though, Howey's inventive world manages to feel fresh and new.  Everything about this vividly-detailed book kept me completely riveted.  I ate Wool up and cannot wait to get going with Shift, the second installment in this addictive series.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Icebreaker by Lian TannerThe Compound by S.A. Bodeen; and The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, and blood/gore

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Wool from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

12 comments:

  1. This one does sound very familiar and unoriginal but I’m glad it manages to stand out and keep you turning pages.

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    1. In these kinds of cloistered dystopian worlds, it's pretty much a given that everything isn't as it seems, so that part is predictable. In spite of that, it still feels original.

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  2. Cool! I always add your A books to my TBR because you so rarely have A books. Plus, this sounds like it would be one I'd really enjoy.

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    1. Yeah, I'm stingy with my As :) This one deserves one, though, because it was such a vivid, engrossing read. I loved it.

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  3. I've heard about this series and thought it sounded interesting. I don't often go for books like this, but sometimes. I need to try it at some point.

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    1. I do like my dystopians :) WOOL is a thick book, so you'll definitely have to be in the mood for this kind of read.

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  4. The size of this one has always put me off reading it, but it does sound interesting. And I do love good dystopian fiction. Might have to bite the bullet and give it a try. :)

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    1. Yeah, it's a chunkster! It flew by for me, though. I always love a vivid, well-built world that feels real to me. This one definitely delivers.

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  5. Yours is the first review I've read that has me considering reading it. Now I'm intrigued... but it will have to get in line behind a bunch of other fantasy novels, some equally long. (I'm looking at you, Green Rider series...)

    Also, can you tell me why it's called Wool, or is that a spoiler? It's been puzzling me since I first read the blurb.

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    1. Oh, good! I think WOOL is a great read. It requires a little patience, but that isn't uncommon for this kind of novel.

      It's called WOOL because when someone is banished from the silo they are given a wool pad to use for cleaning off the video cameras that film the outside world. It also has a double meaning or two :)

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  6. I have heard such good things about this series of books. I haven't read dystopian for a couple years, but perhaps it is time I do again.

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