The world outside has become uninhabitable: the very air itself can kill you. Thousands of people exist in a huge underground silo and live by a treaty referred to as The Pact. In this new society limited by space, each birth requires a death. Certain people are banished to the outer world, where they will surely be killed by the atmosphere…or will they?
This is the central premise of Hugh Howey’s wildly imaginative sci-fi novel, Wool. This lengthy novel features several protagonists, each of whom adds to the narrative as the reader begins to piece together its secrets.
When former Sheriff Holston is compelled to leave the silo and venture aboveground, he is considered by most inside to be dead. There are occasions where members of the new society are called upon to clean the outside of the silo (using wool pads). Other than that, the hierarchy that has developed in the multi-level silo is such that those in charge rule with an iron fist and often keep information (and truth) to themselves.
Juliette (‘Jules’) takes over as Sheriff and is left with a lot of questions about Holston. Once she begins to follow the investigations he was working on, as well as his private pursuit of the truth about the world outside, danger quickly finds her. The Mayor is murdered and replaced by the former head of IT, a supremely manipulative and untrustworthy man named Bernard.
Wool represents the start of a new trilogy, and the completely original premise created by Howey shows a lot of promise. This is no sci-fi classic, but it is an immensely readable novel that will appeal to both sci-fi and mystery fans.