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Book Notes: Wool (Silo #1) by Hugh Howey

A fantastic sci-fi novel that stands on its own

I've seen this book mentioned a few times on Media Death Cult - both the YT and Discord channel - and seeing it was on Kindle Unlimited, decided to give it a try. And WOW, I'm very happy that I did.

Before going into the notes, there are a couple things I need to mention, First, although this is part of a trilogy, I do think that it stands on its own.

Second, this book is divided in 5 parts, and originally, it was only a novelette, which is the first part. Later on, due to the success it was gaining, the author expanded and wrote the other 4 parts. And I assume at some point later came books 2 and 3.

Wool (Silo #1)

Hugh Howey

This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.

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So, what's it about? Trying to avoid spoilers, it's a book about people in the future living in a self-sufficient silo underground after some apocalyptic scenario happened. They live there and can never leave, and the simple mention on wanting out causes them to be sent to cleaning, which is basically being thrown out, and they are supposed to clean the cameras that allow for the people inside to see the outside world.

It's a great blend of character driven story and mystery. After every discovery, every twist, there's more to be intrigued by, to wonder, to be amazed at. It's also very human, as many times with science fiction, so we can at the same time think "why the heck did they do that?" while also totally see it happening in the real world. Bad thing happen, but it doesn't feel gratuitious.

The book is divided in 5 parts, but there's mostly 3 bigger parts: the first with sheriff Holston - the original part - which is very character focused and leaves too many questions on your mind, and you will want to know more.

Then there's the part with mayor Jahns and deputy Marnes, which gives a bit more of an overview of the silo and its residents. A better glimpse of that post-apocalyptic world, while still very character driven.

After that, the book focuses on Juliette, people in the mechanical section, and things that unravel after the second part's happenings. It gives us so much more on the silo, the world, the power structure, the rules. It has more adventure, more things at stake, and it's just so damn good. Not that the previous parts were not, they were great. It's just that as you discover more about that world, you want to know even more, to keep discovering things.

The cleaning, so important for these characters and the silo, an integral part of the rules and the life there, is intriguing and Hugh Howey makes great use of it - the impact on the ones that leave, and the ones left behind - to dig deeper in human nature and psyche.

After finishing the first book, I already started reading the second because yeah... I'm that intrigued. Probably going to read all 3 in a row.

Quotes

We are born, we are shadows, we cast shadows of our own, and then we are gone. All anyone can hope for is to be remembered two shadows deep.

one of those who had grown old everywhere but in his heart, that one organ he had never worn out because he’d never dared to use it.

Killing a man should be harder than waving a length of pipe in their direction. It should take long enough for one’s conscience to get in the way.

“What we control,” Juliette said, “is our actions once fate puts us there.”

We long for stories that drag us through agony but give us a glimmer of hope. We want to read disaster stories that teach us how to survive.

A fantastic sci-fi novel that stands on its own


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