Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wool, Shift, Dust!

 Hugh Howey's Wool Series - a strong recommendation from Idgie, Lover of Sci-Fi.

In 2012 I was scrolling through Amazon looking for a quick sci-fi read and came upon a tiny little book called Wool.  It was cheap and seemed interesting so I grabbed it.  Within moments I was hooked!  I, being the reviewer snoophound that I am, quickly located the then unknown Hugh Howey - just to throw him a "great job!" note.  He very kindly sent me the Wool "collection" of serial books. 

The love continued.  These books are very character driven while remaining true to their apocalyptic roots.  No zombies, aliens or the such... just a horrible "what have humans managed to do to ourselves" type stories.

I am so very pleased to announce that the story continues!

Hugh wrote the Shift Series - 3 separate books or 1 omnibus version - about how it all started.  Loved them all! 

Now he will soon be releasing Dust - a full sized novel continuing where the last Wool book ended.

If you haven't read these books yet I highly recommend them. 

The Dew reviews of the Wool books are below.

Series 1 - 4
Author: Hugh Howey
Genre: Apocalyptic Science Fiction
4 novellas published between July and December 2011
Available through and

I was browsing through Amazon one day a few weeks ago - looking for some interesting short stories that I could read on my phone (no full sized novels on my phone screen please).  I came across Wool, which of course made me think of sheep, but Amazon said I might like it so I went to the description.  I found I was pulled in enough to give the first one a try.

HOOKED!  Great writing, very interesting plot twists and turns.  The best part - it's like reading an old fashioned serial (think western and spy stories), short stories that bind a larger story together but can easily stand alone.  I tore through books 1 - 4 and hear 5 will be out soon.  I'm waiting anxiously for it.  I've also been told that it will be the culmination of the story and actually be novel length. 

I'll go into a little detail about each book below, but because they are short stories, they move at a fast clip with a nicely condensed plot line and I don't want to give anything away.  The book next in line also tends to give away a mystery or unknown in the previous book so I don't want that to slip out.

The main story line is that hundreds of years in the past we humans apparently managed to destroy our earth in some unknown way (I'm thinking nuclear war) and the earth became uninhabitable.  But our government built an underground silo, 140 floors deep and people have successfully lived there ever since.

There are sensors placed on top of the silo that show the outside world, which remains gray and dead.  When a person is convicted of an unpardonable crime, their punishment is to be sent outside.  It's a death sentence.  But they are provided with a protective suit that will last just long enough for them to take with them wool to clean the sensor monitors so that the silo inhabitants can continue to monitor the world. Hence the titles of the books. No one has ever refused to clean the monitors before they choke to death on noxious air, which in itself is a mystery, considering they're being sent to their death - why make sure everyone else has a good view?  The view itself is littered with the bodies of old "cleaners".

There was also an uprising or revolt apparently 200 or so years in the past, and at that time all records of time before was erased.  No one know how or why they're in the silos, no one knows for sure that there ever really was life outside.  Most books were also destroyed except for children's book (to teach the children to read) but while there are pictures in them, they also tend to have unicorns so no one believes them to be true.

Below is a short synopsis of each of the books.  A great story that is portable in short story form, either in paperback or ebook.  I definitely recommend the Wool series for entertaining reading.

Book 1 - 59 pages:
Allison asked to go outside and be a cleaner 3 years earlier.  Holston, the Sheriff, looks daily on the body of his wife.  He doesn't know how much longer he can take it. Why did she do it? Then he found out. This could easily be a stand alone short story.

Book 2 - 98 pages:
Mayor Jahns and Deputy Marnes need to find a new Sheriff.  They head 140 floors down over a period of several days to find Juliette,a mechanical genius that has been recommended for the position.  Along the way secrets, and perhaps love, might be found. 

Book 3 - 113 pages:

Juliette is the new Sheriff, and an enemy of IT.  She's determined to discover secrets that the Head of IT feels must remain hidden from the people - at all costs.  Will Juliette discover what's been hidden for centuries?  If so, at what cost?

Book 4 - 159 pages:
I can't say much here as it would ruin a cliffhanger at the end of Book 3, but let's just say that what happened in that story has the people of Silo 18 deciding they have had enough of the secrets.  They want the truth - no matter what it takes to get it. The cliffhanger at the end of this book is simply delicious and I can't wait for Wool 5!

Wool 5: The Stranded
Author: Hugh Howey
Publisher: Broad Reach Publishing
Publication Date: February 1, 2012

As I previously stated in the first review, this series grabbed and hooked me in a serious way when I started reading it.
It would be classified as an apocalyptic dystopian novel, but I feel it's very much a character driven story as opposed to "horrors of the future" book.  The individuals in the book aren't trying to survive through a horrible death of Earth type of scenario.... that already happened hundreds of years ago.  They're just trying to have a decent and good life in what now exists as life on Earth. 

I highly suggest you read the first 4 books in the series as it really builds the structure behind this story.

I don't want to say too much about the story lines as this is the fifth in a set of books that definitely carry the story along like a serial and to say too much would give away so many plot surprises from the previous books .... so I'll keep it a bit vague. 

In Wool 5 life has changed greatly for many of the main characters and secrets are beginning to rise to the surface.  Secrets that have been kept hidden for several hundred years from the general populace, for their own mental stability and to continue to keep the people under control, are now being found out and let's just say the people trapped living in this confining silo for their entire lives are not happy.

Things need to change.  Things will change.  Whether they'll change for the better or the worse is yet to be determined.

I will say that the secrets that come out, about how humanity might act in the future, what decisions governments might come to.... while horrifying, aren't particularly surprising to me.

A great series of stories that I recommend.  I'm not certain that 5 is the last in the series - if more come along, I'll snatch them up quickly!