Wool by Hugh Howey

WoolI don’t often say this, but this novel is a must read for Science Fiction fans, especially those who love dystopias! Hugh Howey originally self-published it as eBook short stories, and when they started topping lists of eBook best-sellers, they were published in one volume. The story opens with Sheriff Holston slowly climbing a very long spiral staircase, and then locking himself in a jail cell in the top level. He confesses to his Deputy that he wishes to commit the greatest crime possible – he wants to “go outside.” We quickly learn that everyone in this future world lives underground in a huge silo hundreds of stories deep after some unknown apocalypse has occurred.

And that no one ever leaves. Or rather, those that do leave the silo are either sent outside never to return as the ultimate punishment, or have cracked and come to believe that life must somehow be better on the outside. When someone does go outside, they are given a protective suit and are also given the chore of cleaning the outside of the windows at the top of the silo. Shortly after Sheriff Holston goes out, he makes a startling discovery that could change life for humankind forever, if only he could communicate with those back inside the silo. Unfortunately, he can’t.

With the Sheriff gone, it falls to the Mayor to select someone new for the job. She and the Deputy soon begin the long climb down the stairs to select their new recruit. As they descend we learn that the silo is divided into different levels, which are responsible for specialized tasks: administration, manufacturing, farming, mechanical, and I.T. – where the real power is.

Juliette, the woman selected to be the new Sheriff, is not the obvious choice for the job, and those in I.T. who must approve all administrative positions, have some serious concerns about her abilities to do the job. She was raised in the medical & nursery part of the silo, where her father is a doctor, but she left when she became an adult to become an apprentice in the mechanical bowels of the silo. After some dealings with those in I.T., Juliette develops suspicions about what’s really going on in the silo.

This is a powerful story of class and freedom and one of the best dystopias I’ve ever read. The trilogy continues with Shift and Dust.

Find and reserve this title in the library.

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