Dublin Unitarian Book Club’s
choice for September 2020.


It’s 300 years in the future and the outside world is so toxic and poisoned that the remains of humanity live in a vast underground tower 140 levels deep called a silo. This is a tightly controlled society. Resources are limited, everything is created within the silo to survive, electricity, food, there’s even an I T Section, yet communication between the levels costs money whether it is by email, or the most common way by porters who deliver everything from letters to dead bodies by climbing and descending the metal spiral staircase which is the only physical connection between all the levels. To even mention the outside world could mean death where the dissenter is fitted with a protective suit and sent outside to do a ‘cleaning’ of cameras. These cameras are the only view of the world but they have become clogged with toxic grime. The suits eventually disintegrate and the victim dies when exposed to the poisoned air. A cleaning day is like a bank holiday and many people troop up the staircase to witness what is basically an execution, this death relieves the tensions that have built up in the claustrophobic world of the silo.
          The populace know they had ancestors, but they don’t know how or why they came to live underground, there is no real history. There have been uprisings in the past that they know of but they are vague about the details. It’s as if the world of the silo is as foggy as that of the outside and people are kept too busy surviving to really question their world, also it could mean a sentence of a ‘cleaning’. Yet some do question and so Hugh Howey gives us a bit of a superhero in the character of Juliette, the former brilliant mechanic and now the reluctant sheriff. As she delves into past cases some home truths of the silo emerge and also is revealed as to who is really in control.
          WOOL is the first book in a trilogy. On its own it is a good holiday read and has some interesting concepts. It does keep you guessing but to get the full story you would need to read ‘SHIFT’ and ‘DUST’.

Alison Claffey
Dublin Unitarian Church

I didn’t like Wool but most of our readers did, so for me the enjoyment of the evening consisted of listening to (and being alternately amazed at and impressed by) their various reactions. I found the book confusing and unconvincing and was unable to suspend my disbelief to any extent, with the result that I remained (mostly) uninterested in the fate of the characters and completely unable to lose myself in this strange and unattractive world of the underground silo. Gradually though, as the others pointed out the aspects of the book that appealed to them, I realised that there’s a lot more to the book than I thought, and even came close to admitting that some of the incidents and relationships are well drawn and some of the social and administrative conditions interestingly close to those of our own times. Overall, though, I had finished it with such relief that I was quite taken aback when a number of readers declared their intention of reading the next two volumes.

Jennifer Flegg
Dublin Unitarian Church