Wool – Books 1-3 by Hugh Howey

I am reposting this review because the Omnibus edition (first 5 books) is on sale for $3.99.

Wool - Part One

Summary:  Creative post-apocalyptic independent novel.

Whenever I hear about the death of publishing I tend to 1) dismiss the claim, 2) remind the person of the enormous number of books being published every year (too many, not too few) and 3) point out that what is being disrupted is not book writing or reading, but the late 20th century model of publishing.

Wool by Hugh Howey is a good example of this.  Wool started as a 58 page short story/novella released on Amazon just in kindle format in 2011.  Response from readers lead to the next four books (each getting a bit longer), until the Omnibus edition was released with all five stories.  In total the Omnibus edition is 550 pages (but the individual books together add up to over 700 pages, not sure the difference.)

Random House has released a print version of the Omnibus version in UK last month and Simon and Schuster is releasing a paperback in the US in March.

Yes, the vast majority of self published kindle only book do not sell. But there are many self published books that are well worth reading.  I have now read the whole set of five (I read the books individually not the omnibus edition).  There is a natural break between the first three books and the fourth and fifth book, so I am splitting the review into two parts.

The world of Wool is an underground bunker.  If you have read any post-apocalypse novels, this is pretty clear early one.  Each of the first three books tell the story from a different perspective with a different main character.  It is hard not to give too much of the story away.  But these world of Wool is a 150 story underground silo.  The geography does not completely make sense to me.  People regularly walk up and down the silos and they seem to need about 2 days to get down and about 2 to 3 days to get up.  I know 150 stories is a long way.  But most people could go down 150 stories in 3 or 4 hours if they needed to.  And someone in shape could go up 150 flights in a couple hours.

Apart from that one irritating factor, this was a intriguing book.  The tension is from a highly controlled (almost religiously motivated) social system that maintains tight control over the people that live in the silo.  People only have children based on a lottery (to ensure a stable population) and they are discouraged from interacting too closely with people outside of their work and social situation.  As the story develops it becomes clear that the situation is not stable.  It just needs a spark to blow up.

I have read some negative reviews, especially about the first book, from people that did not find the first main character compelling.  I agree that he is the least compelling of the first three books.  But I felt it was a good start to the story and it was the right start of book.

I read all five books in a week and one of the things I like was that there was not a lot of extra fluff.  These are pretty tightly written books.  Each of them can be read in a day or two without much problem.  I tend to dismiss shorter fiction books, but maybe I am doing myself a disservice.  The ability to actually sit down and read straight through cover to cover is oddly fulfilling.  I read a lot, but I rarely read a book in a sitting.

Purchase Links:

Wool (vol 1) – Free
Proper Gauge (vol 2) – $0.99
Casting Off (vol 3) – $0.99
The Unraveling (vol 4) – $1.99
The Stranded (vol 5) – $2.99
Omnibus Edition (vol 1-5) – $5.99 $3.99

Omnibus Edition Paperback – $8.65

Note: these are a lendable books.  I borrowed all of them from Lendle.me

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One Comment

I had read the first story then ended up purchasing the Omnibus. Definitely a “What happens next?” read. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

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