Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1) (Wool, #1-5) - Hugh Howey

Bullet Review:

Good story, but OMG, did we REALLY need 500 pages to tell it?! So much of the "story" is just Juliette spending chapters getting into and out of clothes and airlocks, it was about ready to drive me nuts. Could be a superb story minus about 200 pages.

And because of that, it's doubtful I'll pursue the rest of the series. There's a good internet saying for this:


Too long; didn't read

Sums up how I feel pretty well.

Full Review:

It is some unspecified time in the future; people live in silos, but they never talk about the circumstances of living in the silo. If they do, they head out to clean the cameras viewing the miserable outdoor world. Juliette takes over for the Sheriff, Holston, and quickly begins to uncover the secrets IT, led by Bernard, are hiding.

This book got several good reviews from Goodreads' friends, whose opinions I deeply trust. This is what led me to the book; this is what led me to choose this book for my Book Club book. And while my gut churns just thinking this in light of their favorable opinions, I got mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it's got a fascinating story and was a great lesson for me to think about characters being non-white (see my Casting Review below). On the other hand, it's soooooooo sloooooooow. It seriously smarts of "first author syndrome" - the detailing of Each and Every Action, no matter how important to the actual story.

There were definitely great characters. Juliette proved to me that you can have a female lead without relying 100% on the romance angle. Other excellent nuanced characters include the slimy Bernard, Holston, Marnes, Peter, and Knox. Lots of great characters - it was even more fun for me because, instead of imagining each as a white dude or chick, I went out of my way to find non-white actors and actresses for each role.

As I mentioned above, the story and world-building had a lot of promise. I can't help but liken it to Justin Cronin's "The Passage" in this regard - both are about isolated societies in a post-apocalyptic world. I liked learning how the society was, even though there were plenty of details that made no sense (such as young, healthy people treating several stories as a huge deal when they've lived their ENTIRE LIVES on stairs). It felt like a dystopia - not like the fauxtopias that are all the rage these days.

But really, what really kept me from liking it, what is holding back all the stars is the fact the book is too damned slow. This is best exemplified in the second short story where the entire plot is Marnes and Jahns descending and ascending the stairs. Yes, there is character development going on. Yes, it does build the world. But seriously, 100+ pages for this? Absolutely not.

And this never really improves over the course of the novel. Howey spends whole chapters on Juliette flailing through airlocks and removing or putting on clothes. Again, really? I understand trying to detail his surroundings, but it quickly goes overboard.

As I was trying desperately to finish this before the new year, I agonized over something: why was I eager to continue Justin Cronin's equally slow "Passage" trilogy but considering giving up Howey's "Wool" series? Both are slow, both don't seem to go anywhere - so why one and not the other?

And then I remember - yes, "The Passage" was slow and boring in places, but the first 250 pages were AWESOME. I devoured them. They didn't wallow in the characters' every detailed movement from one room to the other. They didn't spend huge chapters just entering an airlock. Stuff happened.

So, while this is a decent book, I won't be continuing the series. I've heard it just gets slower and more dragged out, and if I ever plan on making a dent in my To Read list, I need to start figuring out what books to read and which to let go.

Now, that isn't to say this is a terrible book that everyone should avoid. It just means: be prepared for a very, VERY slow pace.

Casting Review:
Because I have no life and am trying to get over my white privilege bias, I wanted to visualize actors for these characters, with an emphasis on non-white actors. Give me a hand!


NOTE: I realize that it seems weird I spent THIS much effort on casting for a book I ended up not caring about.  To that, I have to say the following: "Noted."

Holston: Jaime Foxx

Allison: Lucy Liu

Jahns: Phylicia Rashad (I totally didn't think I could find someone other than maybe Diane Keaton or Sigourney Weaver for this part, because of the age, but Phylicia fits how I think of Jahns!!)

Marnes: Avery Brooks
Thanks to Julia for this one!

Bernard: Paul Giamatti
Thanks to Julia for this one!

Juliette: Michelle Rodriguez
OK, I don't see Juliette looking exactly like THIS pic - but this pic is AWESOME!!

Lukas: Max Mingehella
Thanks Rachel (BAVR) and Becky!!

Peter Billings: Ideas: Anthony Mackie

Scottie: Justin Long

Knox: Tom Hanks (with beard - beard is a MUST)

McLain: Helen Mirren (she popped into my head from the first)

Solo: Michael Ealy
Thank you, Rachel (BAVR), for this excellent selection!!

Marck: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Not sure if he should be Marck, but he DEFINITELY needs to be cast in this movie!! Dude is awesome!!!

Shirly: Gina Torres

Walker: Kris Kristofferson
Thanks to Blade I canNOT think of anyone else as Walker but Kris.

Jenkins: Kal Penn
A bit of a strange one, but I'm thinking of his character from the TV series, "House". Smart, but also completely overwhelmed and underexperienced.

Normally, I don't do these sorts of things, but in this case, I thought, hey, why not! Also, post images of who YOU think should be each of the major(ish) characters!!h