by Hugh Howey
“It turned out that some crooked things looked even worse when straightened.”
Due to extremely toxic factors on the Earth’s surface, survivors eek out an existence in a huge, underground bunker. With the Earth’s surface having been uninhabitable for hundreds, possibly thousands of years, the remaining men and women know of no other way of existence until chance, coincidence and a feisty mechanical engineer come together to challenge the status quo.
The beating heart of this story questions the inevitability of war while not really denying it. There are protagonists and antagonists–not so much ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’. Interestingly, the author deftly manages to get you to side with both for a while as information about the predicament is revealed and we get glimpses into opposing points of view, some logical and some emotional.
It’s a sizeable read, originally released digitally as 5 one-off purchases, to complete the work Wool (1-5 comprising book 1 of the Silo Saga). Mr. Howey was a kind of early adopter to the digital marketplace and went on to make a well deserved killing off the set. Despite its size the work moves along at a brisk, interesting pace that won’t allow you to set it down for long.
It’s a rich, fully realized, almost steampunk subterranean world, and at times the reader’s curiosity is aroused to the point where we can wonder about this world, how would we live in it, could we make the best of it as many of the characters have done? They have the advantage of never knowing anything different, considering the human capacity for adaptation.
The author even gives us impressions at times of a simpler, almost idyllic lifestyle. Clearly defined social structures, a sense of purpose for every individual, and by comparison to the modern world, a very peaceful lifestyle (peaceful until the story is underway).
Make no mistake, this book is about war. Not warfare, but war. Why do we fight? What does fighting do to us? What can we do in the face of war, and if any of us live through it, what happens after? And most important, is there any way to stop it?