maandag 21 april 2014

Wool - The Silo Saga

Hey folks! Up for a new book (a trilogy actually)?! I warn you: this one's addictive and you will probably close your eyes at night way later than you planned to.

Let's travel into the future. Fifty, maybe hundred years from now...maybe even later. Try to imagine a silo, a húge silo. Not only huge in diameter, but also in height...or actually depth.
Depth, you ask? Yes, because this silo sits under the ground. Only half of the top floor rises above the ground, all other 133 floors are buried deep in the earth. Stairs spiral down through the center of the silo, all the way from the top floor to the very bottom. It's the main transport system for the inhabitants of the the silo; the people use it to travel from their apartment floors to the floors where they work. Think of schools, nursery departments, an IT-section, food-growing floors and the mechanical area at the bottom of the silo. There's an endless traffic between all these parts of the silo, but the inhabiting colony never leaves the thing itself. They can't, because the air outside is toxic. Five minutes in this poisonous atmosphere and they'd choke to death.

Got the image? This is the setting of 'Wool', the first part of the 'Silo Saga', written by Hugh Howey.

I've only read this first part so far, but I'm very enthusiastic and couldn't keep my excitement to myself. The book obviously falls in the 'sci-fi' category, but it's not like the story is completely impossible. Who knows what kind of dystopian world the human race will eventually inhabit in the future? Some of the concepts used in this book are obviously based on events that did truly happen in history. The fact that the humans in this story themselves are very real and easy to emphasize with, displaying recognizable thoughts, feelings and behavior makes it all the more believable.

Silo Saga's author Hugh Howey probably never expected his star to rise so fast. It all began in 2011, when mister Howey wrote a novella (that now forms the first part of Wool) which he independently published through's Kindle Direct Publishing system. It was conceived unexpectedly well by the Amazon reviewers, who begged him to continue the story. So, even though 'part 1' was originally just meant as a short standalone story, parts 2-5 followed, together forming the Wool-omnibus that is now published as the first book of the Silo Saga trilogy.

Mister Howey himself...

Since the appearance of the first part of the Silo Saga, the popularity of the series has only grown. I remember seeing 'Wool' in an advertorial on my Kindle, those ones that appear on your screen when you turn it off. The short description caught my attention, and I put my Kindle back on to find out more about it. Normally I'm not such a model customer, perfectly responding to every ad that I'm being served up (yikes!), but I never regretted doing so this time. Hugh could count a new member to his ever growing fan base. I'm often sceptic when it comes to things that are just way too popular (too many people jumping the bandwagon just because it's the next big thing, no matter its quality), but the Silo Saga's popularity is well-deserved, if you ask me. 

At times, it remembered me a bit of the Hunger Games. If you liked that series, I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy these books too! Both stories take place in post-apocalyptical worlds, where suppression, lies and control are an important part of life without many people realizing it. In both series, the main characters start to ask questions, something that is actually being tried to prevent from happening. Still, you can't help yourself starting to wonder about these same questions too: where is this silo? How did the outside atmosphere become toxic? Who built the silo's anyway? And, why are things the way they are and do all inhabitants seem to accept it that way? Topics like group-mentality, controlling techniques and questioning authority are some of the very interesting themes I came across in Wool. And even though these are quite serious subjects, the book is incredibly easy to read. 

The characters are well developed, I became particularly fond of the protagonist: Juliette. Her tough behavior, analytical mind and heart full of questions and understandable emotions are quite easy to relate too. I like the fact that the author didn't come up with too many persons and story lines, something that seems to be the case with many books and series these days. Don't get me wrong, I definitely value and respect the work and craftsmanship that are required to create stories with complex interrelations and connections (in time and person)... But well, sometimes we just want to crawl under our blankets with a good and exciting book, without having to think too hard or browse back all the time, right? 

Almost every chapter ends with a cliffhanger, which makes in pretty hard to put the book down when you really have to go to sleep ;) Hugh manages to make you sense the suffocating atmosphere of the silo like you are actually there yourself, to get dizzy from the endlessly spiraling chairs, to feel the tension among the people rising, slowly but surely escalating... I can't wait to start on Shift and Dust, the next two parts of the trilogy! And the fun doesn't stop there: film rights to the series were sold to 20th Century Fox. If (and when) a movie will be made isn't sure yet, but it definitely would not surprise me. Where The Hunger Games were originally meant as young-adult books, the Silo Saga might attract a larger audience due to its older main characters. Hugh already proposed Lost-actress Evangeline Lilly on his website to play Juliette's role. Perfect casting, if you ask me!

Well, I think that's enough rambling about the Silo Saga. Go grab your own copy and just start reading it yourself. I challenge you: try to sleep in on time ;).

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