In a ruined and toxic landscape, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.
His fateful decision unleashes a drastic series of events. An unlikely candidate is appointed to replace him: Juliette, a mechanic with no training in law, whose special knack is fixing machines. Now Juliette is about to be entrusted with fixing her silo, and she will soon learn just how badly her world is broken. The silo is about to confront what its history has only hinted about and its inhabitants have never dared to whisper. Uprising.
©2012 Hugh Howey (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
Wool presents an intriguing slant on the post-apocalyptic theme. The story opens with humanity confined to an underground silo consisting of about 150 levels, but without any sort of elevator or escalator, just stairs. Outside the silo is a barren, poisonous landscape. Technologically, society is late 20th century with modern medicine (although nothing special) and limited computer capabilities. The silo is completely self-sufficient with religious beliefs consistent with the silo as a heavenly creation. Banishment from the silo with eventual death by toxic gases is their form of capital punishment. We follow several characters that slowly unravel inconsistencies in this setup with the realization that there are things beyond the silo and history left unspoken.
The author provides some interesting organizational parallels to the society that add to the believability of this world. For example, the levels of the silo are divided into three sections (upper, middle, and lower) that parallel socioeconomic and political status: the upper is political and administrative with IT dominating; the middle section is largely a middle class of professionals, while the bottom sections are relegated to manual and grunt labor. Much effort, subterfuge, and ruthlessness goes into maintaining order until one lone woman manages to undermine the delicate balance.
The major detraction is the slow pace of the entire story with important revelations reserved for late in the tale. At the same, the author slowly kills off early characters that appeared as major players and only gradually introduces the participants around for the denouement. Finally, the narration is suboptimal with a poor rendition of voices and an extreme slow pace of delivery that only adds to the snail's pace.
I am not a perfectionist when it comes to the narration, but I could not sit through this performance. The narrator sounds like Glinda the good witch of the north after an ambien overdose in her best voice. Things get rediculous when the other male characters come into the story. Seriously I have heard more reasonable voices on Sponge Bob cartoons. It ruined the story for me. Skip the audio and just read this one.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
For all that I love speculative fiction, I'm not normally a big fan of dystopian tales because I found many to be too preachy, way too depressing, or just plain silly. But there has been SOOO much buzz about Wool - self published novellas go viral and young author is suddenly famous with a film deal maybe coming - that I just had to give it a try. I am really glad I did.This dystopian adventure sidesteps the overly moralistic tone of many, totally avoids the teenage angst and clumsy romance of some recent dystopias, and although sometimes sad and definitely often dark, the book presents a fairly hopeful view of humanity in the end. There is probably not quite enough in-depth science to satisfy the hard core hard science fans, but there is enough working detail to help the listener really visualize the unusual settings and suspend disbelief to become engrossed in the plot. And, the science fiction lover in me found a lot to like.
The book is not perfect, Howey provides more description of the appearance of places than of his characters, the writing is a bit choppy at times, and I was left really wishing I understood better how the world actually got to the "wool times". However, you can hear the writing become smoother and more fluid as the book goes on; physical appearance of the characters is limited, but motivations, behavior, relationships, and personality are well fleshed out and these people ring true; the lack of complete explanation of the evolution to "wool-times" means that there isn't much dull info-dumping going on and there are plenty of surprises left for the sequels :)
In addition to some great characters and very interesting settings, the plot is fabulous. Twisty-turny throughout to the point that it difficult to say much more about the plot than the summary does without committing a "spoiler sin". So I will just say that some of the twists you may see coming, but there were a couple that totally surprised me. Like most dystopian adventures, some of the surprises are shocking and horrific, but a couple of them are just really cool.
Amanda Sayle is OK as the narrator. Her voice in the narrative sections is good, but I found her character voices mostly off-putting and a little distracting.
Wool ends perfectly for a book in a series. It comes to a satisfying conclusion and wraps up most of the immediate plot lines. But it leaves the door wide open for further adventures and left me determined to be first in line to download the next book as soon as Audible brings it to us. Wool is strong enough on good characters and interesting plot to find fans across the genre lines, but most science fiction buffs are sure to enjoy it.
I heard about this book via TechDirt b/c the author published the book through Amazon directly and did tremendously well on sales. When I saw the Audible version, i had to get it since i had owned the Kindle version for a year w/o reading it. The book is now being made into a movie so its an all around win for independent authors.
Anyways, this book is one of the best books I've listened to in a while (and that's coming off of a long stretch of Alastair Reynolds and Peter F Hamilton books, among others). The writing is very, very good and i completely understand how and why it would be considered 'movie material'. This is one of those books that when you see the movie after finishing the book, you'll have the feeling that you've already seen 'that part' b/c the imagery Howey creates is vivid and complete. In that sense, i would say its comparable to Harry Potter and Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice & Fire series).
Onto the narration by Amanda Sayle - I was impressed. This book doesn't have a sole main character, it has many that all follow a similar story line and the split is pretty even, half male, half female. Audible books tend to have a narrator with a gender matching the protagonist but this one could go either way. I think Amanda did a wonderful job that certainly adds to the overall quality of the story.
Finally, i will say that had i actually read a synopsis of this book before buying it, i would not have purchased it b/c the type of story that it is doesn't typically appeal to me. That said, i'm glad i got it and i think you should skip the synopsis and hype too, just get it and listen/read!!
Enjoy the adventure
Several hundred years from now, in a post-apocalyptic world, the surviving humans live in underground silos. There are secrets that will be protected at any cost. Most follow the rules and ask no questions. Only a few dare to challenge and this puts their lives in grave danger.
“Wool” is among the best books I have listened to since joining Audible.
Very well written, dystopian future story. The narrator nearly ruins it though. When she is reading in her own voice she is fine, but her character voices are nasal & cartoonish. Very glad that the remainder of the series has a different narrator. If you think you can stand the annoying voices, give it a go. If not, get the print edition.
This book is wonderful. It's thought provoking and is not a predictable dystopian novel. I can see it appealing to a YA audience but I would categorize it as adult. There is minimal profanity and no sexual content. The narration is bad as many have commented and I understand that they use a different narrator for 'Shift.' ...I am grateful.
The book is captivating and I will be reading the next book, 'Shift', by Hugh Howey. It explores a silo and its society after the world, the "up top," has been contaminated and made unlivable. What is intriguing about it is it takes place generations after anyone has any idea about what happend to the surface and elephants and green grass in books seem to be made up creations. The general population has no idea what happend before and it is designed to be that way. The book explores the human need to find out their history and the need to leave the silo. The book shows how these needs effect their society. It is forbidden to discuss going "up top" or to go outside. It's is very much a contained psychological experiment in the essence that you have an absolute control group. The difference is it isn't an experiment in the book. It is their reality. There are good twists and I highly recommend it.
The use of whispersync for this book was very nice particularly because of the narration. I hadn't used whispersync before and found I liked it. It was cheap to pick up the audible portion after getting the book through amazon. I think it helped my review of the book. I started reading 'Wool', which was fortunate, because Amanda Sayle's ability to do additional character voices is lacking. She does fine on regular narration and Juliette's portion but her interpretation of male voices and some of the women is really bad and I think it would have led me to find some of the characters that I interpreted in my head as strong as juvenile. I utilzed whispersync for Julietts's portions and went back to the book if there was a lot of dialogue. I believe I might have abandoned the book if I hadn't. I would only get the audible version of this book if you choose to use whispersync. If you don't want to do whispersync I would read it and not listen to it.
I am always happy to find a new series of books to keep me busy for all of the driving and walking I do, and this kept me interested throughout the entire story. I love the author's vision of an underground society, and the trip to the down-deep by the mayor and deputy, while a slower part of the book, was a great way to describe the makeup of the silo in a more dynamic way than just a narrative description which would have taken too long. The plot twists were well timed, the characters interesting and there was just enough left out to make you want to continue with the next book "Shift" which I will be reading next.
Unfortunately, the narration for many of the character voices was horrendous. I read about narration problems in the reviews, but when I listened to the sample (in both versions of this book) I thought "well that isn't so bad".... of course, because there is no dialogue in any of the samples. Good thinking, Audible, I wouldn't want potential buyers of the book to hear the cringeworthy voice of Bernard, which is a cross between Paul Lynde and Edward G Robinson, or the Minnie Mouse voice of half the female characters. For other males she makes the same mistake as many other female narrators doing male voices... she tries to sound like a man rather than just using a lower version of her normal speaking voice. The result, for characters like Lucas and Holsten, is the voice of a man who has just been punched in the stomach. It is a shame because it takes away from what would otherwise be a very enjoyable and interesting book.
As I write this review, there are a lot of reviews for this book, so I may not add anything new, but I couldn't resist to give my two cents.
Some people complained in the reviews why the book titled Wool. I find it appropriate, it refers to the core principle of cleaning the lenses, keep the Silo going.
The characterisation is good, we get enough details and backstory for the main characters, others are drawn with rough lines, but we don't need to know them deeply.
I enjoyed the writing except that it drags time after time. Some scenes were just too long, I had to resist to skip forward.
I had problem with the basic principle of the Silo. People were separated, so they don't conspire against the ones who rule. The fact that it was hard to climb so many steps and the expensiveness of the electronic communication was supposed to do the job. There is logic in it, I admit, but something is just not quite right. People still communicated, word had gotten to places. There were a few other details that annoyed me, for example the lack of elevators. I get that it could have been because of this idea of separating people, but can you imagine how much stuff the porters had to carry up and down? And what about the big, heavy things? And there was also the cleaning. It was all believable that Holston was tricked to clean, but what about the people who wouldn't clean the lenses because they would be angry being cast out. And what about the total jerks, who would broke the cameras out of mere revenge? Surely there would be one or two in a few hundred years. Why not having a cleaning mechanism and use another way of punishment? These simply doesn't add up for me.
Besides that I found the plot compelling, and I enjoyed the action scenes.
I liked the way technical details were presented. The author didn't want to lecture me in engineering or IT, he gave only those details what I needed, without using jargon.
All in all, I enjoyed the book, and I want to know what happens in Shift and Dust.
I have not read the print version, the audio edition was fantastic. Contrary to some of the reviews posted critical narrator, I never found Sayle's voicing of the characters confusing.
Jules. Strong and intelligent .
Jules' attempted rescue of (?) at Silo 18 near the end of the book.
Yes, when one of main characters at the beginning decides to go outside.
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