I'm not sure why the author chose the title Wool (pull the wool over your eyes?), but this post-apocalyptic novel was originally written as a series of stories, then united seamlessly into this single volume.
After some apocalyptic event, survivors live in a silo, hundreds of floors buried deep into the earth. The world outside is toxic and on the upper floors there is a view into the devastation of the world that remains. Inside the silo, humanity operates in a contained world that has been engineered to support them indefinitely. None of those living have any first-hand experience of the world "before." Three generations have lived and died in the silo--it is the only world they have known.
The first chapters (stories) deal with Holston, the sheriff of the silo, whose wife asked to go outside, a fate synonymous with suicide. But Allison doesn't believe that outside means instant death; she has been doing some computer investigation of deleted information and believes that there is a conspiracy in place to keep the silo's community in ignorance. When she has finished with the cleaning (anyone who leaves the silo, whether by choice or punishment, cleans the sensors that provide the view to the outside world), Allison wanders off, intent on returning for her husband. (trying to avoid spoilers, here)
The next chapters deal with the aging mayor and the deputy sheriff. These chapters introduce Juliette, who will become the dominant protagonist throughout the rest of the book. Juliette is a strong, independent woman who loves her job as a mechanic. She is a natural, if reluctant leader, and a fiercely loyal friend.
Howey has created an interesting world in the silo. The society functions according to rules laid down by the creators of the silo, and it is a rare occasion when anyone questions anything about the the world in which they live--the silo society or its origins.
The characters are well-developed and complex. The plot evolves slowly, organically and has some drastic differences from a lot of dystopian literature: there are no zombies or mutated creatures that threaten, and the society functions efficiently, if in a stultifying atmosphere. Reviewing Wool is difficult without spoilers, but the plot gradually unfolds and intensifies. From the first chapters, there is a sense of foreboding that hovers and keeps you on edge.
Howey does a fine job with this dystopian novel.
Dystopian. 2012. Print length: 550 pages.