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Wool by Hugh Howey (Discussion)

Our first online book club discussion is here!

This month we are reading Wool by Hugh Howey. A suiting book for the times. When the book was picked for book club, we had no idea how strongly it would relate to the current medical, social and economic crisis unraveling around the world.

WOOL is a dystopian novel that is well written with a steady build up of suspense. Howey has a running theme across many of his publications: celebration of overcoming odds and of not allowing the cruelty of the universe to affect who you are. A majority of his work is classified as science fiction, since his plots often take place in the future.

WOOL was originally released as a standalone short in July of 2011. Due to its popularity and driven by demand, the rest of the story was released over a period of 6 months. Howey blew up as an indie author after he self published the book on Amazon and found much success on the Kindle Unlimited program. WOOL is Howey’s seventh publication and is an international bestseller that’s been translated into nearly 40 languages.

Quick Summary:

In the world of WOOL, humans live underground in enormous silos. These silos are hundreds of stories deep. The landscape surrounding the silos is destroyed and the air outside the silos is toxic. The men and women live in a community full of rules and regulations they believe are designed to keep them safe from the world outside, and from each other. The number one rule is don’t ask to go outside. Unfortunately, the story would be quite short if no one was ever to break the rules…

We are shocked when the Sheriff who has upheld the silo’s rules for years, breaks the biggest rule of all: he asks to go outside. In the story, we see characters struggling to know what lies beyond the silos and finding a deeper meaning to life. The Sheriff’s punishment sends him into the deadly outside world. Of course Juliette, his successor is totally uninterested by the deadly outside world. We follow her story as she is forced to face the real world and a series of revelations that will change everything she thought she knew.  

If you enjoyed Hugh’s writing style, you may also enjoy his blog. He even has a posting on “Coronavirus COVID-19: Why The World Isn’t Ending Anytime Soon’. He shares a strong opinion that all may not agree with especially on questioning our paranoia surrounding viruses. While we can draw many comparisons between our world and the world Howley created in WOOL, in reality, our situation is better than any scenario made in post-apocalyptic fiction. 

As Howey states:

“In the worlds we enjoy in our dystopic and post-apocalyptic fiction, we often deal with worlds where 95% of people are gone and a mere 5% survive. The inverse of the Spanish Flu. The worst that nature has ever thrown at us wasn’t nearly as bad as our fears of apocalyptic ruin.”

I could talk about this book endlessly, but this is mean to be a post and a discussion! So let’s get to some questions…

1. First of all, did you like the book overall? Why or why not? Along with that, did you like Howey’s style of writing? 

2. Although the Sheriff is one of the most important characters in the book in terms of story, we don’t spend nearly as much time with him as we do the others. Were there other characters you wished you could have gotten to know better? Why?

3.  Why do you think the rules of the Silo are designed the way they are?

4.  One of the strengths of Wool is that beyond imagining a new world, it allows us to see our own with new eyes. Do you think Wool has symbolic lessons for our contemporary lives? What aspects of modern society might you perceive differently after reading Wool

5. It is a possibility that WOOL could be turned into a movie. 20th Century Fox had previously acquired the movie rights to it. If you were making a movie of this book, who would you cast?

Some of the book discussion questions (and credit) comes from  the Simon & Schuster site. Check them out for a longer discussion and more info about the book.

Please share your thoughts, questions and reviews with us! We would love to hear from you.