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Book Review: Wool by Hugh Howey

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Calm down, knitting fans, this book may not be about what you might think. This is actually one of my favourite genres, the post-apocalyptic world. It is not too much of a spoiler to tell you that the wool in question is wire wool, used for cleaning. I’ve read books one to five, but I believe there are three or four more out there at the time of writing.

From what I can gather, the author self-published book one as a short story through the Kindle, then it was super-popular, so he published the rest. It would appear that he has been extremely successful and recently sold the film rights. Hurray for him–I like the idea of self-publishing through the Kindle, and although it does result in quite a lot of rubbish getting out to our innocent eyes, I do enjoy a self-made success story.

This is one of several books I have read recently that almost read like a film script. Actually, I think this one would work much better as a TV series, one with Jennifer Garner as the star. The thing is, though, if I want to watch a film or TV, that is what I will do. I do not especially like novels that feel as though they are written with the screen in mind. They are usually fast-paced, and all action and dialogue, and take a very short time to read, and give the reader very little insight into the characters. That is what we have with Wool.

The story revolves around characters living in a “silo” of a hundred and forty-four floors (if I remember rightly), all underground. They have to be underground because the air in the Earth has been made toxic and no-one can go outside without dying within a few minutes. They have been living underground for generations with an improbably inexhaustible oil field just below it, which is powering everything. They re-use and recycle things such as paper, but they have had a power station working for generations, which is pretty amazing, I can tell you from ten years of working with power stations in a previous life.

So, I will stop grumbling about the plot holes. I like our protagonist, Juliette (played by Jennifer Garner in my head), she’s a strong kick-ass woman, like the Mayor (played by Helen Mirren), and I will always be charmed by a couple of those kinds of characters. I like the idea of the silo, it is clever and sinister all at once, which a post-apocalyptic world should always be. The other thing about the post-apocalyptic fictional world is that there is scope for it to go on and on, which this world certainly has. Sequels and prequels have already been written to the five books I have read, and I am sure Howey could go on and on. I think I would watch the movie, if only to grumble at the casting not being as good as it was in my head, but I do not think I will be reading any more of the novels.

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About Claire Ady