Wool by Hugh Howey

Rate: 5/5

Medium: Kindle

Overview (No Spoilers):

Merry, Merry Christmas to my blogging family! I hope you all had wonderful, family filled weekends! My library gained a few extra special additions this holiday season with Luke spoiling me with a first edition/first print Ready Player One and my Grandma surprising me with a first edition/first print The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett.

In my glowing review last week for The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, I’d mentioned stumbling across a book list that has proven to be pure gold with regard to providing exceptional book recommendations.  My second read from the well compiled list, Wool was a delightfully dark novel in which generations of people have lived in a silo due to the external conditions being highly toxic.  The self sustaining silo, is exponentially larger than the grain storage building that instantly comes to mind, and is embedded deep underground. As someone who loves wide open spaces and country settings, my overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia grew increasingly with each subsequent floor that was described. Characters introduced throughout Wool were highly detailed and well developed, although Howey shows a penchant toward the tenancies of George R. R. Martin with regard to longevity of their lifespan.  Moreover, these characters show a level of creativity and ingenious problem solving that hark back to Mark Watney (The Martian by Andy Weir), with the resulting scenes being comparable in edge of your seat suspense.  Additionally, Wool kept readers on their toes by continually shifting the direction the plot had seemingly been headed in ways that were wholly unexpected.  Needless to say I was hooked early on by the brilliant world building that took shape in uncomfortably confined spaces, before being further engaged by the roller coaster of emotions and plot twists in which Howey succeeded in startling the reader out of any semblance of repose. Overall, I’m excited to be ending my 2017 literary year on such a high note with this captivating, fast paced read that any lover of science fiction, especially when dystopian in nature should pick up Wool. You won’t be able to put down this extraordinary adventure whose level of detail, depth and evolving directions will keep you guessing throughout. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the Solo Saga has in store!

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • Howey certainly set the tone early in the book by introducing us to the perspective of Sheriff Holston, only to kill him off almost immediately. The next two key characters we are introduced to are even further developed before they too are discarded unexpectedly.  After which the reader was certainly that left a feeling of suspense regarding the remaining characters, with no personality safe from Howey’s pen.
  • Jahn and Marnes’ trip to the maintenance level located on approximately the 130th floor to recruit Juliette to the now vacant position of Sheriff was crucial to the world building effort with regard showing how immense the silo actually is and the people/jobs that fill its numerous floors.  Before their trip, the reader didn’t really have a good grasp on how deep the structure went, so as they decent the reader was piecing level, by level how embedded the silo was and how much work must have went into constructing it.
  • When Juliette dives down to fix the pump was one of my favorite literary scenes I’ve read in recent memory. While it is a sequence that has been reenacted many, many times in movies I can’t remember reading anything like it from a novel perspective.  Really her whole adventure in Silo 17 was beautifully constructed and delivered.  Every time the story switched to a different perspective during this timeframe I was impatient to get back to her next chapter.
  • I wasn’t expecting there to be more than one silo, let alone over 50! We find out by the end that they were all constructed by the people that poisoned the outside.  Why and what did they do to have that level of toxicity? How far in the world does it extend? How long ago was it toxic? How many people have been ‘cleaned’? How many revolutions? What is the history behind other Silos? We know there have been unsuccessful uprisings. Were there any successful ones?
  • I was left debating for most of this book, until Juliette was ‘cleaned’, as to whether or not the outside was actually toxic or if the IT people would poison you in your suit.
  • The war scene with IT and the Mechanics, and the devastation that ensued for the latter group was awful to read from a reader’s perspective. While it was literary well done, it is always hard to read when your favorite characters are losing their lives, let alone the battle.
  • The ending was so emotional/suspenseful as Juliette is working her hardest to make it back to Silo 18 to save Lukas, only to have him flee her in the chamber of fire, ultimately meeting a horrifying death.  I was as distraught as I’ve been in recent memory when reading this section.  Needless to say, I was surprised, and relieved when it turned out to be Bernard instead! I loved that he would hike up to the top levels most nights and star gaze.  Now that they’ve fixed the suits will he venture out to see the stars?
  • How did the children in Silo 17 go so long without being discovered by Solo? How did their parent’s die? Will they be able to be acclimated to everyday life? How will they get over to Silo 18?

Vocabulary Builder:

When reading it is common that I encounter words that I’m not privy to the exact definition, however it is easy to infer the meaning of the aforementioned word based on the context of the sentence and story. As such, relatively new to the Critiquing Chemist, you’ll find an additional section that includes vocabulary words that I encountered upon reading the book being reviewed that either had to look up the definition or a word I do not currently utilize on a regular basis in my everyday repertoire. This endeavor is easier when in the Kindle format, and potentially impossible with audiobooks, however I’m going to attempt to continue this section for future book reviews. I’ll be using the definitions from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Ablation: loss of a part (such as ice from a glacier or the outside of a nose cone) by melting or vaporization

Incongruous: not conforming

Zephyr: any of various lightweight fabrics and articles of clothing

Convalescing: to recover health and strength gradually after sickness or weakness

Rote: crowd

Ubiquitous: existing or being everywhere at the same time

Adroit: having or showing skill, cleverness, or resourcefulness in handling situations

Umbrage: a feeling of pique or resentment at some often fancied slight or insult

Harangue: a speech addressed to a public assembly

Axiom: a statement accepted as true as the basis for argument or inference

Jamb: an upright piece or surface forming the side of an opening (as for a door, window, or fireplace)

Chrysalis: a protecting covering a sheltered state or stage of being or growth

Untrammeled: not confined, limited, or impeded

Tepid: moderately warm

Gyred: a circular or spiral motion or form

Meted: to give out by measure

Chassis: the supporting frame of a structure (such as an automobile or television)

Enunciated: to make a definite or systematic statement of

Grommet: an eyelet of firm material to strengthen or protect an opening or to insulate or protect something passed through it

Supine lying on the back or with the face upward



  1. I was interested in this book a few years back but avoided it because I got the sense (or heard something; can’t quite remember now!) that it might be a bit too depressing and/or disturbing. Not so? I’m fine with most things, except for animal cruelty or extreme vindictiveness.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I thought that Wool was good enough to stand on it’s own, but enjoyed the other two. They are not as good, but the second one talks about the origins of the silo and that is just too cool to pass up. I did reviews for all 3, but there are spoilers so wait until you finish. But then please read them geek out with me over some of my unanswered questions!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hello! Hello! I just finished Shift! So good. I loved Jimmy’s backstory and the inner workings behind Silo 1. 🙂 I’m looking forward to the third book and then I’ll have to dive into your reviews so we can geek out together!

        Liked by 1 person

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