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KWBC: Wool by Hugh Howey - Discussion

 
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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 12:00 pm    Post subject: KWBC: Wool by Hugh Howey - Discussion Reply with quote

In May, the Kevin's Watch Book Club has been reading Hugh Howey's post-apocalyptic sci-fi series Wool.

What did you think?
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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm waiting for someone else to kick off the discussion before I add my twocents Laughing

u.
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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read it in February. I LOVED it. I found it fresh and it kept me guessing. No filler, nothing belabored. Deft descriptions. I found the characters immediately engaging (no Mary Sues here), and when it was over I wanted more.
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PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2013 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thread kicked off. Thanks, Deer! Laughing

I read and enjoyed Wool. I think that I read it in two goes separated by about a week. When I came back to the book I wasn't as gone on it as I had been, maybe because most of the mysteries and backstory had been revealed at that stage.

I enjoyed the start of the book, especially the parts where I was trying to figure out why the cleaning was so important, why people went crazy (I'm still not sure what it was that drove Holston's wife over the edge) and so on? I liked the way the characters were being developed (especially the Mayor and Juliette) and enjoyed getting a feel for what life in the silo was like.

However, once Juliette came up from below things began to happen very quickly and it became more of an action-driven book. I'm usually one for complaining about one book being stretched into three, here I think it's a case of too much being crammed into one book and the potential of the atmosphere and character development being lost. By the end of the book I didn't feel that Juliette had anything like the force of character that she had at the beginning. I felt that Lukas was much less interesting and mature than he'd seemed when we first met him (and we'd lost significant interesting characters along the way).

I recognise that sustaining and developing characters is difficult and may be sacrificed to the necessities of plot, I just felt that by then end of this book an opportunity had been lost.*

u.

*(Looking on Wiki I see that the series was written as a series of novellas and the parts I enjoyed most were the first two novellas. Parts 3-5 fit with the parts that I didn't think were as good.)
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I think that once he realized it was popular, he just kept on going.

I agree that parts 3-5 felt like a different kind of book. Howey shifted gears when the story began to focus on Juliette, from the mystery angle (why do people scrub the lenses? Why do they never come back?) to more of a thriller.

That said, I thought the whole thing was well done. I've been told Shift (another omnibus, containing the next three books in the series) is good, too. Need to add that to my TBR pile at some point...
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Too bad I missed this. The review I posted on Goodreads:

Quote:
Truly literary sci-fi, in the same vein as Cat's Cradle or The Road. I'm not saying Howey is a master of the English language (I'll save that decision until I've read more of his work); I'm saying that if you're looking for an entertaining read but also something to sink your teeth into, this works. It's not as clever as Vonnegut, not as gut-wrenching as McCarthy, but it makes up for it by ease of reading, and not in an easily digestible but ultimately unfulfilling way like a lot of modern post-apoc stuff.

I'm not going to bother with a synopsis or the publishing history of the book. If that's what you want, I'd recommend the estimable Lynne Cantwell's review. What I will tell you is a few of the things that make this book worthy of 5 stars.

Metaphors. See, some people will read this and ask: 'What metaphors? Every detail in this book serves the purpose of telling the story. I didn't see anything that had some higher or alternate meaning.' Exactly. But I'm telling you, they're there. Knives and seeds were perhaps a bit too obvious, though.

Social commentary. Despite the references above, Wool reminded me of nothing more than Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. Sure, the class lines and social hierarchy are obvious enough, but look at how the 3rd person limited omniscient focus moves from person to person. Much later in the novel, you learn the true inciting incident for this story, and it becomes even easier to pick up on this.

Compression of space, not ideas. I can't imaging someone with claustrophobia reading very far into this (the underwater scene was almost enough to send me outside), but it's fascinating how such a limited setting can still feel globally situated yet also have enough tension packed into it to make the silo feel more like a compression cylinder. Now that I think about it, it's a lot like the Portal video games.

As for me, I plan on seeing if Howey truly is a master. Or maybe just damned good.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw that, and replied! Laughing

Since we did the group read, I've read Shift and liked it, as well. At first, it's a prequel to Wool, about how everybody got into the silos in the first place. Then it parallels and extends the Wool story line. An interesting exercise, I thought.
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