I’ve been reading quite a few dystopian novels lately, and have been struck with the fact that several just didn’t work for me. Wool is one that did. What’s different about Wool that made it stand out as so much better than the others? Why did I get drawn into its world when others didn’t keep me riveted?
First, the world that was created in Wool is believable. The idea of people living in an enormous silo after the destruction of the atmosphere is a viable solution. The concept is so simple, it almost appears obvious. (The author in me asks, “why didn’t I think of it first?”)
I did question a few things, like why did everything have to be carried up and down the stairs without even a freight elevator in sight. But overall, the setting worked and I wasn’t constantly questioning it. The level of detail added to the credibility of the world the author was building.
I found it interesting that many of the negative reviewers of the book questioned the science behind the silo idea. I don’t know enough about heat transfer and agriculture to have come up with the same criticisms. When I’ve read novels about something I do something about (like the health care industry), and they get something really wrong, I lose interest immediately. Since Wool covered science I know nothing about, I bought it and just enjoyed the story. Lesson learned: there will always be some scientist or professional ready to criticize the science or technology of a fictional work. If it’s well enough with some level of credibility, most people won’t question it.
Another aspect that I liked was that the major villain had a chance to make his case. He was convincing. I almost bought it.
While Wool had a love story, it did not become a distraction from the plot. Rather, it felt almost like an afterthought. It might not have developed as fully as it could have, although I could see it coming early on, but at least it didn’t stick out like something added in just to be there.
A strong feature was that the story kept moving along. Even though several major characters died early on, there was one story line that continued. Once Wool settled on the person who was the protagonist for the remainder of the book, the story accelerated and I could not read fast enough.
This device frustrated me a little, as the people I was caring about were dropping dead, but it made me care all the more about Juliette, hoping she wouldn’t succumb as well. Nice way to build that sense of investment in a character.
The evil way the silo’s inhabitants were kept in line was brilliant, and kept me guessing. The powers that be were not drawn as evil for the sake of evil, or omnipotent, or crazy smart one minute, and blindingly stupid the next.
That’s why Wool worked for me.