by Hugh Howey
Simon and Schuster, 2013. 508 pgs. Science Fiction
Whenever anyone talks about successful self-published books the ubiquitous Shades of Grey comes into the conversation, but its time another self-published title took over: Wool by Hugh Howey. In Wool’s post-apocalyptic world humans live in underground silos, controlled by the fear of being sent outside into the toxic air for committing minor crimes. Howey opens with the first rule of the silo: anyone who expresses a desire to go outside gets their wish. The silo’s Sheriff wakes up on the third anniversary of his wife’s death and calmly states that he’d like to leave. As he waits, he wonders whether he will clean the Silo’s only window before his oxygen runs out… but those sent outside always clean.
Wool is a dark, thought-provoking dystopia, perfect for those who loved The Giver as a kid but who’ve found new-fangled YA hits like Matched or Uglies too perky and swift. Howey creates the perfect grimy, grungy atmosphere by centering his work on the worn, winding 140-floor staircase that connects the Silo’s stratified society. There is something deeply compelling and metaphoric about how his characters trudge up and down these stairs, trying to pull together their society. A highly recommended read for adult dystopian fans.