Wool - Hugh C. Howey

E-I-E-I-Oh...you weren't kidding.


At some point in history, Old McDonald's farm must have not gone so well, because all he ended up with in the end was a silo. Props to whoever advised him to keep the silo, though, because it sure came in handy [spoiler] when the air got poisoned and the world became uninhabitable outside of said silo [/spoiler].


Anyhoo, Old McDonald's silo works, so all is good. Right?


Nope. [spoiler] The sheriff decides to go outside and die alongside his three-years-dead wife who went crazy. The mayor and the deputy take a looooooong trip downstairs (like, over 140 levels long) to pick out a new sheriff, and everything just goes downhill from there [/spoiler]. Do silos have any special mechanics or anything? Because this one has a bit of a problem.


Lucky for the silo, [spoiler] the new sheriff is a mechanic [/spoiler]. Juliette might not know--or care--a whole lot about politics ([spoiler] such as dealing with the all-powerful IT department [/spoiler]), but she definitely knows her way around machines.


It's not hard to find YA dystopian fiction. Between Lois Lowry's The Giver and Golding's

Lord of the Flies (if you like your fiction on the older side), with the addition of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games and whatever collection of spin-offs associated with that craze, it's easy to find a book that talks about what the world would be like if it wasn't the way it is today.


Hugh Howey takes YA dystopian fiction to a completely new level. I saw this book advertised as a comparison to The Hunger Games, so I was on the lookout for similarities and differences from the get-go. The similarities were the typical similarities that you'd expect to find in a YA dystopian fiction novel: [spoiler] post-apocalyptic universe and political system meets hero/heroine who's never known anything different; hero/heroine gradually becomes integrated into more than just the everyday workings of the system, doesn't like what he/she sees, tries to do something about it; chaos [/spoiler]. It was the differences that were striking.


One of my major complaints about The Hunger Games as a work of YA fiction is that all of the commentaries that dystopian literature is supposed to address were, essentially, nullified by the overwhelming amount of romance. [spoiler] For the romantic in every one of us, no matter how much we may deny: don't worry, Howey still gives us a few good love stories...just without the universerevolvesaroundourlove sap [/spoiler]. Now, don't get me wrong: romance has its place in nearly every story that tries to capture the human experience; however, it doesn't belong in center stage in nearly every story, and one of the biggest flaws of The Hunger Games was the sacrificing of political/social commentaries in favor of just one more lovey-dovey scene.


Hugh Howey is, in my opinion, the remedy for modern YA dystopian fiction. In this first installation of his Silo saga, he offers everything that a YA dystopian fiction audience looks for: obvious dystopia, a compelling hero/heroine/set of hero(e)ine(s), some romance on the side; Howey also offers what many modern YA dystopian fiction novels have failed to offer--and what, now, many members of the audience don't know to look for: a commentary on the world in which the audience lives. The Hunger Games wrote about love in a dystopian universe, but forgot to say a whole lot about the world readers live in; Howey's Wool Omnibus is packed with commentaries on modern politics and society...which is what makes this book a proper dystopian fiction.