There are many books that deny the hype and expectations associated with them. To a degree Wool
is one of these books in that it is both better and worse than hype would inform you. Regardless it is a brilliant modern dystopian novel, a modern work with style and ideas similar to those seen in Ray Bradbury or George Orwell. When other readers try and argue that [b:The Hunger Games|2767052|The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)|Suzanne Collins|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1358275334s/2767052.jpg|2792775] or [b:Divergent|13335037|Divergent (Divergent, #1)|Veronica Roth|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328559506s/13335037.jpg|13155899] are the best modern dystopian novels, Wool
is the novel that you point them to for correction.
This novel contains five books in one, though all five books are, in actuality, part of the one unfolding story. This story begins with a ritualistic 'cleaning', in which one man is sent from the underground silo to the outside. This outside world is destroyed entirely and the only glimpse of this world allowed from the silo is through one single camera. This camera requires cleaning, therefore certain crimes result in individuals being sentenced to die outside as they clean the camera. From the beginning this novel was excellently written to provide instant descriptive power and the impact of granting a glimpse into the emotions of the main character as he awaited his sentence, reflecting on his life. From this point on the reader is drawn into a plot about lies and truth within the silo, analysing the power struggles within this tightly controlled environment. What is the role of IT in this world? Are the cleanings so necessary? Is the truth more dangerous than the lies? These are questions prompted early on and later answered.
The ultimate power of this novel is in how it is so character driven. As a result the reader can experience a beautifully written (not poetically but structurally or linguistically beautiful) novel that delves into the character's minds to look at the trauma and pain they experience in this gritty post-apocalyptic, dystopian, world. I've not seen this in many books or read a book that so seamlessly integrates description into plot, showing and not telling. At least that is what I felt about the novel.
Finally, since the book stunned me and will probably now haunt me for the next few days, a look at the title. The title 'Wool' is simple and punchy, but at the same time a title that seems irrelevant to the book. A clever title designed to be thought provoking and in some sense, deep. The kind of postmodern title most books adopt these days. Yet I thought of several potential meanings for the title and I will briefly explain them:
1) Wool in connection to the idea of insulation or protection.
2) Wool as a metaphor for knitting, as most of the chapters are connected by knitting related titles.
3) Wool in connection to the idiomatic expression 'to pull the wool over your eyes'. Therefore the sense of being blinded to the truth.
4) Wool in connection to the phrase 'a wolf in sheep's clothing'. Again the deceptive element of wool where someone wearing wool can appear to be soft and caring but really be a true monster.
5) Wool in connection to all the above ideas, as a deceptive and soft insulative material with the capability to be used for multiple purposes (like many of the people and products in the silo). Ultimately while it may seem that wool can be grown and developed it is only dead material taken from the coats of sheep and therefore is a material that ends up cycled, much like the people and materials in the silo. Wool is deceptive and if you look further into it, and question where it came from and what it is, you begin to understand the reality of what wool is.
Wool, is a multifaceted, multi-useful material. And it is the nature of duplicity that features throughout this book. I fully recommend you go and read this, taking into account your own personal reactions and not merely the reactions granted by hype and popularity.