Two weeks ago, I had never heard of Wool or author Hugh Howey. Now I'm giving him a five-star rating for one of the best edge-of-my-seat thrillers I've ever read. And that was the most surprising part of my reading experience - Wool as thriller. A gunless, horrorless, fast carless, evil beingless thriller. I had to forcibly stop myself from flipping to the end of the book to learn Holston's fate. And the book's only 59 pages long!
The short format makes full physical and environmental descriptions impossible. Howey allows the reader to fill in the blanks on what the silo space, the world outside the silo's walls, and characters look like. Only the staircase up the side of the silo gets a thorough examination due to the important role it plays in the story. From underground to surface, life to death, ignorance to enlightenment, the staircase represents a sort of Jacob's ladder between heaven and hell, or maybe between hell and hell? Residents of the silo really don't know the answer unless they either choose to leave the silo or are found guilty of a "crime". Their punishment? To be banished to the surface world thought to be a poisonous wasteland, and to clean the camera lenses that bring images of the outside world into the silo. But are the images of the muted landscape and dead city real? Or are they doctored by computer programs to placate the silo's residents? That's the question that had me wanting to flip to the end to know the answer. The last 10 pages? Breathless! And then Howey had to go and leave enough big questions unanswered that I wanted more. No question, I'll be picking up other books in the Wool series very soon.
Is history really doomed to repeat itself? Is knowledge dangerous? Do leaders have a right to "pull the wool over the eyes" of citizens in hopes of maintaining a peaceful community? What's the worse fate - death or ignorance? These questions and others run throughout Wool. Howey doesn't spoon feed answers to readers. The short format leaves much of the answering to us.
Alongside all of the unanswered questions I add: "Why haven't I heard of Hugh Howey till now?" After this effort, I'd be shocked if we don't hear lots more about him in the very near future.