WOOL by Hugh Howey

Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool #1-5) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
by Hugh Howey
Broad Reach Publishing (Kobo edition), 2012


woolWOOL began its life as a self-published short novella in July of 2011. That’s hard to believe. I feel like I’ve been hearing about this thing for ages and ages.

So I’m late to the party, but not that late. Due to excited reader response over WOOL 1, author Hugh Howey quickly released the next four parts in the series. Then came along this Omnibus which collects Parts 1-5. There is now a 2013 edition with a great new cover that features a blurb by none other than Justin Cronin, author of The Passage.

In a few short years, Howey has given all struggling writers out there toiling away at their craft in obscurity real hope. Word of mouth among bloggers and enthusiastic readers on sites like Amazon and Goodreads has the potential to lift the curse of invisibility from self-published works so that they may find their way to audiences who will love them. Never before have the barriers between author and reader been so few, the access so direct. No longer are authors strictly dependent on big publishing houses to discover them and deem their work important enough to go to market accompanied by a sexy publicity campaign. Authors and readers are doing it for themselves, and I for one think it’s a beautiful thing.

I love everything about this story — I love the details of the world-building, I love the characters, I love the shifting points of view, I love the slow burn when you’re not sure what is going on. When it became clear to me exactly what was going on I love that I wasn’t disappointed. For a post-apocalyptic story trodding very familiar science fiction territory, it still feels fresh. The author definitely gives it his own spin.

I love that the stakes are so high. I love that the author is patient and in control of his narrative. That he doesn’t reveal too much too soon. That he understands the relationship between tension and release. All of that to say, I love that the writing is so strong and capable (I’ve read too much self-published stuff where the prose is inexcusably sloppy). Howey’s writing is the exact opposite of sloppy. It’s polished. Its engine hums. The shoes are shiny and it’s wearing a tie. It’s ready to take home to mom.

Finally, I love Juliette. She’s Ellen Ripley, Katniss Everdeen, and Dana Scully all rolled up into one. She’s got brains and courage. Her heart is huge, her will made of iron.

There’s a lot of under-developed, underwhelming dystopian fiction kicking around out there these days. WOOL leaves those attempts in its dust. It’s worth your time. Trust me.

Find out more about the author and his on-going writing projects here.

Book trailer available here

This review can also be found on Goodreads.

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