Buried Alive?

Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1) (Wool, #1-5) - Hugh Howey

Wool would be a fantastic short story. No need to go on beyond the first fifty pages or so, which have it all: post-apocalyptic politics, seamlessly integrated futuristic technology, and a well-kept and mindblowing secret that speaks volumes about human psychology and society. I thought that was enough.


Perhaps Hugh Howey did, too, since he originally released only part 1 of an eventual 6 volumes. Fans wanted to know more, and he gave them more. I'm not sure he gave them new, however.


Wool is the story of a people living in a massive, multi-level underground silo after the surface of the planet has become too contaminated to sustain life. Even after several generations are born into the high-functioning, and highly structured, silo society, the people still maintain a view of the outside. Keeping the view, and perhaps their sanity, requires a great sacrifice that has gone unquestioned for centuries. Until now.


Howey's writing style is very readable, and he has a real talent for expressing a character's personality with just a few lines of dialogue. He uses the same economy of words to reveal the underground city's breadth and depth, letting us know how it all works through the eyes of his characters. Readers will seldom feel like Howey is stepping in to explain the technology, or even the history. It's all part and parcel of the characters' lives.


That integrated feeling makes the revelations of part 1 all the more shocking and effective. You're left asking many questions, and wanting to go back and see what clues you missed along the way.


Unfortunately, the later volumes cover much of the same territory. The implications of that first discovery grow and develop, but Howey spends a lot of time with familiar charcters in very familiar surroundings, and the pace really slackens.


I absolutely loved the beginning, but do wish these folks hadn't been kept underground quite so long.