I can see why Hugh Howey’s Wool is ripe for bestseller status: the hook is gripping, the characters are relatable, the sci-fi concept is intriguing, and Howey’s prose conveys the action with urgency and clarity. It doesn’t end up quite so satisfying to me, though. There is that one missing thing: depth of ideas. In my mind, this last thing is important (nay, essential) for any good fiction.
With science fiction in particular, the story needs the scientific idea as its core, with the scaffolding of plot and character imbuing that idea with life. What Wool has is an interesting idea, that there is a whole community of human being living in a great underground “silo”, the origin and purpose of which are unknown at the beginning of the story (and, as it happens, only dimly foreshadowed in this volume… apparently, one must read the next volume to get the origin story). The concept is interesting and has a lot of potential, and with the name “silo”, one must imagine a great apocalyptic event (nuclear or not) having necessitated its existence. As the plot unfolds, we learn a bit more about why things happen as they do in this silo society. These developments are indeed quite interesting, and I think that the story of Wool would have been more cohesive if the author had integrated the silo’s origin and purpose into this story.
The plot moves along, for the most part, at an engaging clip, although the original format of the story (a series of novellas) hasn’t quite been successfully massaged into what used to be called a “fix-up” novel. At the beginning the sheriff of this silo has gotten his hands on some forbidden knowledge, and he’s got to go… outside. This means being exiled to the toxic environment beyond the airlock, which, despite the protection of an environmental suit, means that death comes within ten or fifteen minutes at most. What has the sheriff discovered? Why is it so dangerous to social order? These are intriguing questions. Answering these questions leads to the great unraveling of the mystery of the silo… unfortunately, this unraveling remains incomplete within the page of Wool, and the plot turns increasingly towards the misdeeds of a rather one-dimensional villain and the heroic escapes of an incredibly competent engineer figure (a familiar type from Golden-Age sci-fi, the only real difference here being that the hero is female). These central characters could have used a great deal more depth, their status as hero and villain never being in question, the result being that they never achieve plausible Personalities but remain mere Characters for the duration of the story.
These deficits are all the more lamentable because the concept really is interesting and Howey’s prose displays some capacity for thoughtfulness despite its apparent transparency. That said, I did enjoy what unraveling there was; I even found the action scenes (which got in the way of what I really wanted) almost unbearably intense. I don’t mean the third-act battles (which are somewhat by-the-numbers) but rather the impossible threats to survival that the heroine must navigate. While I considered them distractions, they were amazingly effective distractions. It’s no wonder that Wool has been optioned by none other than Ridley Scott.
Final word: read it for action, read it on the beach, but don’t expect the promising world of Wool to reach its full potential. I’ll just have to be satisfied with what I’ve got; I won’t be moving ahead to the sequels.
Ever since I finished the fantastic Wool a few years back I've had the other volumes on my TBR list. It was only when the other half of the two-person sci-fi reading group I'm in selected this that it became a priority though, and even then I'm about three months late getting to it. Part of it was the size, which suggested a commitment of time that I couldn't make until I took care of other reading requirements. Fortunately reading it proved quicker than I thought -- but only because I ended up skimming so much of it.
Hence the title of my post. I can't recall the last time I was so divided in my feelings towards a book. At the core of it is the backstory explaining how the Silos came to be. Overall, I was impressed by Hugh Howey's story, which explained nicely how so many people ended up in constructions that would take an enormous amount of preparation to realize. It also filled in the margins of Wool by providing prequels to the events in Silo 18 and one of the characters in Silo 17, though this felt like padding. And there we have the source of my conflicted feelings about the book.
Perhaps I'm ungrateful to complain about what amounted to unnecessary backstory, when the part of the book that I liked was really little more than unnecessary backstory itself. The difference, though, is that the backstory I liked introduced new characters and illuminated previously unexplored parts of the world of Wool. With the other half of the book, however, I already knew where I was going to end up. Had Howey's characterization been better I might have been more interested, but his strengths have always been with plot rather than character development. Fortunately once I figured this out I was able to skim through big chunks of it, which helped me to finish it a lot more quickly than I expected. So at least there's that.
Die Menschheit hat sich in Silos unter die Erdoberfläche zurückgezogen. Hier lebt sie bereits seit Jahrhunderten und niemand weiß, wie es dazu gekommen ist. Außer der Leser und die Bewohner von Silo 1, die darauf achten, dass niemand sonst vom höheren Plan der Silos erfährt.
Es handelt sich um den 3. Band der Silo-Trilogie, die mit „Exit“ ihren Abschluss findet.
Juliette Nichols ist zur Bürgermeisterin von Silo 18 geworden und sie denkt nicht daran, sich an die Regeln zu halten. Bisher hat ihr Widerstand nur zum Guten geführt. Im letzten Band „Level“ hat sie sich der Säuberung widersetzt und dadurch die Nachbarn in Silo 17 kennengelernt, und nebenbei die Machenschaften in Silo 1 entdeckt. Aber hat sie sich jemals um den Preis dafür Gedanken gemacht? Das fragen sich nicht nur die Autoritäten von Silo 18, sondern sogar die eigenen Leute zweifeln an ihr.
Während mir die ersten beiden Bände sehr gut gefallen haben, konnte mich das Finale leider nicht mehr überzeugen.
Die Handlung plätschert vor sich hin. Die Bewohner aus Silo 17 müssen - wie es Juliette in „Level“ versprochen hat - gerettet werden, dabei bringt sie das eigene Silo in Gefahr. Natürlich bekommen die Machthaber in Silo 1 Wind davon und behalten Silo 18 mit Argusaugen im Blick.
Der Großteil der Handlung konzentriert sich auf die Rettungsaktion von Silo 17 und dem Widerstand von Juliettes Leuten in den eigenen Reihen. Das ist zwar spannend zu hören, ging aber an meinen Erwartungen nach den ersten beiden Bänden großteils vorbei. Denn der übergreifende Handlungsrahmen von mehr als 50 Silos wird außen vor gelassen. Zwar schwenkt man immer wieder zu Silo 1, wo Donald und Charlotte einen positiven Ausgang anstreben, allerdings haben auch sie dabei nur den eigenen Silo 1 und Silo 18 in Sinn.
Was als atemberaubende Dystopie begann, hat im Abschlussband eindeutig die Würze verloren. „Silo“ und „Level“ haben durch das großartige Setting, die geniale Idee und den nüchternen Stil bestochen. Mittlerweile ist das Setting verbraucht und Hugh Howey hat konnte das Mysterium der Silos nicht mehr aufrecht erhalten. Der Handlungsrahmen hat seinen Reiz verloren, weil sämtliche Geheimnisse bereits aufgedeckt sind. Außerdem hat sich der Autor meiner Meinung nach zu ausführlich und lang den Details in besagten 3 Silos gewidmet, anstatt das Gesamtbild zu betrachten.
Trotz dieser Kritik fand ich den Abschluss gut zu hören, weil letzten Endes die Geschichten der Figuren so weit zu Ende gesponnen wurden, dass man von ihnen gut Abschied nehmen kann.
Das Ende an sich war auch nicht gerade überragend. Ich fand es ok, wie die Geschichte ihren Schluss findet, dennoch kommt es an den episch angelegten Stil des Trilogie-Auftakts nicht ran, und hat bei mir einen faden Nachgeschmack hinterlassen.
Sprecher Peter Bieringer hat gute Arbeit geleistet und dem zurückhaltenden Erzählstil meinem Empfinden nach Leben eingehaucht.
Nichtsdestotrotz habe ich „Exit“ gern gehört und ich bin trotz meiner Kritikpunkte froh, dass ich nun weiß, was aus den Bewohnern aus Silo 17, 18 und 1 geworden ist.
Published by: Arrow (25 April 2013)
In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo.
Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies.
To live, you must follow the rules. But some don't. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others with their optimism.
Their punishment is simple and deadly. They are allowed outside.
Jules is one of these people. She may well be the last.
This first book in the Wool trilogy has very good reviews and a little quote on the front cover proclaiming it to be "the next Hunger Games", so my expectations were high as I delved into this gift from my hubby (on our wool anniversary!).
Initially I found it quite tough to get into and ended up abandoning it and restarting a few times before persevering and getting past the first few chapters. After that, I found it hard to put down! Once Jules appeared on the scene it became much more appealing, more interesting somehow and seemed much more animated.
Some of the points in the book didn't quite add up. It seemed to take an awfully long time to get between the lower and upper floors. I realise everyone would've needed to walk as there was no lift facility, but it seems excessive.
Having said that, I really liked most of the characters, especially Lukas, Jules and Solo. For me, these guys really made the book. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Shift.