Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1) by Hugh Howey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Before I read this, I . . . er . . . siloed myself off from other reviews. Now that I'm finished, I'm glad I did. The sense of claustrophobia and restrained liberty was complete, as a result. But I'm a middle class American living a life of relative freedom when compared to most of the world today, and definitely when compared to the world of Wool. There were times, many times, when I had to remind myself to breathe! This is the amazing thing about the book - the way it captures you and slyly leads you from plot point to plot point without you knowing you are being shepherded along by the author. It's much like . . . well, like living in a dystopian world where you don't know anything about what is beyond your immediate reach, while someone, someone else does. Someone who you might know. Or maybe not. How would you know? The plot is really the unveiling of masks, nothing fancy, nothing elaborate. It's a very workman-like plot, and I guessed a few things before they were revealed. But I was along for the ride like a child locked in a car seat with a lollipop. The writing is just that smooth.
But what I really enjoyed were the characters. Jahns, Lukas, Juliette, Bernard. These were maybe not entirely believable all the time (Peter's "conversion" was off-putting, though necessary), but each character was identifiable enough and warm enough that it was fairly easy to willingly suspend my disbelief.
And what can one say about Juliette? She is strong, determined, yet vulnerable. Smart, but prone to mistakes. Her heart is crusted on the outside, but soft in the middle. She is, in a word, "human". I greatly enjoyed getting to know her.
And Lukas was one of the most believable characters I've read in a long time. "Conflicted" is the word that comes to mind when I think of Lukas. He wants to do what's right, but is torn between the logic of duty and the freedom of his heart. I felt like I related to him a great deal, like there is some of Lukas in me. That's the kind of connection I felt while watching him move, tentatively and naively, perhaps, to an emotional space that was simultaneously sad, bold, and endearing.
No, the science isn't perfect, and the deep history behind the whole setup was hackneyed. But Howey uses the setting, the situation, and the players so well that those minor annoyances soon melt into the background.
You've probably noticed that I'm not giving a blow-by-blow on the relevant plot points, that I'm being vague. This is intentional. I want you to be submerged in the silo, as well, so you can discover for yourself something about human nature, the need to control, and the need for freedom. I hope you'll jump into this world and struggle and hem and haw and backtrack and embolden yourself so that you can find your own way out.
You're going to have to trust some people to help you on your way out. You can't do it alone. Be careful who you choose as your friends, but once you've chosen them, trust them . . . and yourself. I wish you luck. Oh, and don't believe everything you see or everything you hear. The world isn't how it seems. But maybe you aren't how you see yourself, either.
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