Chris (The Genre Fiend)'s Reviews > Wool

Wool by Hugh Howey
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It's kinda problematic for me to review Wool as both a book and a collection of novellas strung together in an omnibus. Both have issues that are prominent in one form and cancelled out in the other, and it's difficult to say which problems are inherent to the format or to the story itself.

In a nutshell, it's a great premise with a really uneven execution. For the purposes of this review, treat Wool as one whole book divided into five parts, ok?

Taken like that, the biggest problem Wool runs into is structure. The opening instalment with Holston is a great, grab-you-by-the-collar opening that really galvanised me to read further. Then the journey down the Silo with Jahns and her deputy is ploddy, slow and attempts world-building but doesn't quite flesh out anything beyond the immediate setting. Then we have a new protagonist. Then we have five. Then some die. Then some new ones are added.

Actually, on second thought it's probably better to take them as five separate books; if nothing else it'd explain the sudden time skips and swings in perspective and POV between parts that don't even merit a real "This is how we got here" explanation. Having multiple protagonists can be great, but it doesn't work if you try to tug our heartstrings with particular characters that haven't been fleshed out enough.

For instance, burly Mechanical guy Knox becomes a protagonist during Part 4. I don't really know who he is (besides being Juliette's former boss), I don't care enough about his struggles because I don't really know who he is, and (view spoiler) Knox is only one example of Wool not investing enough time in characters it obviously intends for me to like.

Also, the "action" sequences, for want of a better term, and reeeeeeally slow. Overexplanations of people walking over hills and fixing machinery just makes me skip over it to get to the interesting parts. It doesn't really add much to the mood, just serves to pad out the wordcount a bit.

On the flipside of the coin, Juliette's an interesting protagonist and it's nice to see a heroine in a sci-fi/fantasy book not dominated by angst 24/7. The world of the silo itself is intriguing and creative. (view spoiler)

It's not a bad idea, all things considered, and it's not a bad book, but it doesn't feel like a good book either. I need more engagement with the characters and less time jumping schizophrenically between protagonists and POVs, especially towards the end when the climax demands particular focus from at least two different characters' plotlines. I'd consider reading the next two books if the structural problems and characters were addressed a bit better.

Also, despite what other reviews might claim, Wool is actually a very, very appropriate title.
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Reading Progress

May 26, 2014 – Started Reading
May 26, 2014 – Shelved
May 26, 2014 –
page 45
7.99%
June 12, 2014 –
page 193
34.28%
June 18, 2014 –
page 221
39.25%
June 25, 2014 –
page 291
51.69%
June 25, 2014 –
page 347
61.63%
June 26, 2014 – Finished Reading

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