Review Blog

Dec 09 2013

The Wool series by Hugh Howey

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Century, 2013.
Wool. ISBN 9781780891248.
Shift. ISBN 9781780891224.
Dust. ISBN 9781780891880.
(Age: 15+) This complex SF trilogy of weighty tomes set in a future dystopia makes compelling reading. Shift, written after Wool, provides the overview, the link with the 'present' (2049BCE) and the political machinations which have gone into setting up fifty underground towers (silos) to preserve humankind from the ravaged surface. Shift skips back and forth in time, covering a span of 300 years. Two scientifically successful applications - cryogenics and a drug enabling people to forget their pasts - create a diabolical combination for the men in Silo 1, as their womenfolk 'sleep' on, and the men are woken for shifts of a few weeks at a time (sort of a grim Groundhog Day effect). Only a few know the full history of the silos, and the story revolves around one who was innocently involved right from the beginning, and what unfolds as he gradually acquires resistance to the drugs of forgetfulness and starts to piece himself and the situation together again.
Wool depicts the story of a silo ignorant of the existence of the other silos, and Dust concludes the trilogy. One is a silo that has collapsed, and the other is a silo in rebellion. Ultimately there is contact with each other and also Silo 1. The reader will stay absorbed by the political intricacy of Silo 1, and the grim survival of Silos 17 and 18, initially ignorant of each other and the reasons for their very existence. Ultimately there is hope, but the reader is kept guessing till the last few pages.
These thought-provoking, well-written and multi-layered novels could appeal to senior students, particularly those who enjoy science fiction. Possible comparisons could be made with books such as Huxley's Brave New World or Atwood's The Year of the Flood.
Anne Veitch

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