After mowing through Daniel Suarez’s Freedom, I was casually browsing my Kindle for new material when a recommendation for Wool by Hugh Howey popped up. I had recalled an article on Brad Feld’s blog, and since his other recommendations had turned out so well, I figured I’d give it a try. It didn’t hurt that the first book in the series was free, so what did I have to lose other than a little time.
I found myself cruising through the short story in a little over an hour, which is pretty good for me since I’m not the fastest reader in the world. The book was an intriguing character study about a civilization that is relegated to living underground but has a fascination with the outside world that they cannot venture into without paying a substantial price – their life.
At the end of book one, Howey gives you a preview of Book 2 in the series, which gets you hooked into buying it, for the steep price of $0.99. In the second book, Howey paints an even deeper and more vivid picture of the underground environment, the politics of operating the silo (as its called) and the implied class system that has emerged. The imagery, the details, and the characters leave you wanting more, and by the end of Book 2, you’re ready for Book 3, which means you’ll be buying Book 4 and Book 5. At the end of the day, you’re probably best of just getting the Omnibus edition from the outset and saving yourself the angst of whether you’ll continue buying each book in the series, and save a dollar in the process.
After finishing Wool, you’ll be ready to jump into Shift. Again, it’s a series of short stories, three in total, but I would recommend buying the Omnibus edition again as you’ll find yourself reading all three in no time.
Shift is the prequel to Wool, but make sure you read Wool before Shift, or you’ll miss out on the brilliant story-telling of Howey and the genius with which he brings the story arcs of the two books together.
In addition to the connection between the two series, I also liked how Howey introduces pieces of hard science fiction into the Shift story. It helps to explain a lot of the background and events of Wool, but it’s done in a way that keeps you on the edge of your seat page after page. It’s truly amazing how he is able to connect the two books, and I give him a lot of credit for keeping the events of the two stories in sync. I’m sure they exist, but I’d be hard pressed to find any holes in the stories from the two books.
Wool and Shift are in my must read category. Put together, it’s a great story, it’s very well written, it’s easy to read, and it’s very enjoyable. To top it off, Howey is in the process of releasing Dust, due out this month, which is the conclusion of the Silo story, so I’m sure you can guess what’s up next on my reading list.