I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately. I was even on holiday last month and somehow managed to spend a week on a beach in Hawaii without reading a thing, which you wouldn’t even think was possible. Life’s been quite stressful these last couple of months, and I’ve been having a hell of a time concentrating on anything for more than a moment. I finished listening to Wool ages ago actually, before The Slump began, but I apparently forgot to write this post.
Under normal circumstances, this is really not a forgettable book. It’s actually a collection of five stories, set sequentially with the same characters, that were published throughout 2011. Put together, as they have been in this omnibus, they read like just like a novel and not a collection of shorts. After the first story, none of the transitions between books were noticeable to me at all.
I was hooked right from the beginning – the characters were compelling, the setting was interesting and mysterious, and the quality of writing in general was just fantastic. The characters live in an underground silo that spans many floors, so many that it takes most people days to climb from the bottom to the top. The only view of the outside world is a giant monitor on the top floor that displays the feed from cameras set up outside. No one leaves, and to even speak of leaving is grounds for ‘cleaning’, which is essentially the death sentence. People sentenced to a Cleaning are sent out to clean the sensors for the monitor, and they never return from that job.
I don’t want to give too much away, but the stories deal with living underground and the questions that come up from this way of life – why are they there, what’s outside, etc. It’s a really fun and unique story. The whole dystopian wasteland concept has been done to death, but this was a really refreshing take on it.
Amanda Sayle’s voice acting was mostly great. My only gripe was that some of her voices for the IT staff within the Silo were borderline offensive, being a professional computer nerd myself. Waaaay over the top. It was like listening to a sinister Steve Urkel.
Hugh Howey has released the next collection of stories already, Shift, which I’ll be picking up soon. The movie rights have also been sold, with Ridley Scott rumoured as being interested, so that could be quite interesting if it ever comes to fruition. Ridley Scott is exactly who you’d want for a setting like this, I think.