Audiobook Review: Wool Omnibus Edition by Hugh Howey

27 09 2012

Wool Omnibus Edition by Hugh Howey

Read by Minnie Goode

Broad Reach Publishing

Length: 17 Hrs 57 Min

Genre: Post Apocalyptic Dystopian

Quick Thoughts: Wool is a fun and fascinating science fiction. Fans of post apocalyptic and near future dystopian will love having a new playground to explore. Howey lovingly builds his world on top of dark secrets and fills it with wonderful cast of diverse characters. If you are like me, and hesitated a bit at this novel, I can honestly say, go for it. It’s well worth the time.

Grade: B+

There is a certain dichotomy that comes with most well done dystopian novels particularly for dystopia regimes that rise after some sort of apocalyptic event. While at first glance, there is a system that suppresses freedom, implements strict regimented procedures onto its citizenry and ruthlessly protects the power structure, more often than not at some point in the institutions development, it is done with the best of intentions. A good post apocalyptic dystopian will force you to question everything you believe you hold dear, and force you to ask yourself what exactly you would be willing to give up to protect yourself and humanity in total. It’s easy for us in Western Culture to acclaim that personal freedom is never worth giving up simply for safety. We look at these systems as naturally corrupt, easy cheering when our heroes decide to push against the status quo. Yet Freedom is not a natural state for humanity. Democracy rarely evolves naturally in human culture. Add to that the pressures of preventing a further devastation, it’s easy to see how dystopic societies rise. Far removed from the situation, we can play the moral giant and embrace the chaos that these types of situations create. Yet, we must reconcile that with the bloodshed and the intentions of government. Whenever I read a book like Wool, which contains an element where the system of leadership is holding the truth from its people and I try and fight against my knee jerk action. Would the people of the Silos be better off knowing everything? Can the machinations of the people in power be justified by the prevention of chaos? If the price of freedom is the destruction of humanity, is it worth it? This is why I love these types of stories. While they more often than not are really about the characters, there are often so many levels beyond the surface to examine.

I will freely admit I was skeptical when starting my foray into Wool. Whenever I hear about a highly successful independently produced novel or series, I can’t help but approach it warily. I began hearing about Wool a few months ago. A few blog commenters and other Post Apocalyptic fans recommended it to me. Wool was a type of novel that fit right into my wheelhouse. It is a future Post Apocalyptic tales about an underground Silo, where people live under a regimented system which perpetuated that The Silo is the natural state of living, created by God, and the outside is taboo and deadly. If a person expresses desire to leave The Silo, they are sentenced to Cleaning, forced to leave the Silo to clean the cameras and sensors, and eventually succumbing to the toxic air. Wool is told in an interesting style, with the first few "books" of the series smaller, novella sized vignettes leading to two larger works.  I was quite impressed by Wool. The first two vignettes are touching precursors to the main storyline and do well to create the world that Howey will play in. The main storyline really starts by the third book, which follows a well conceived main character, Jules, a mechanic who is convinced to become The Silos sheriff, and begins to unravel the mysteries of The Silo, to the chagrin of the shadowy head of the IT division. The plot is deftly handed out in a slow reveal fashion, setting up things for a series of big reveals. Wool is intricately plotted, and well executed. Howey peppers his plot with highly engaging characters. Howey storytelling is interesting. He included highly detailed scenes, following the activities of his characters. Despite this, the novel is paced at a pretty crisp pace, until the final novel where is gets a little bogged down trying to pull it all together. Yet, even with that one small negative, Wool is a fun and fascinating science fiction. Fans of post apocalyptic and near future dystopian will love having a new playground to explore. Howey lovingly builds his world on top of dark secrets and fills it with wonderful cast of diverse characters. If you are like me, and hesitated a bit at this novel, I can honestly say, go for it. It’s well worth the time.

So, before starting Wool, I broke one of my rules and went to Audible to check out some of the reviews. If I was going to take a chance with this novel, I new narration would be key. I was a little saddened to see quite a few negative reviews of the narrator, Minnie Goode. After listening to it, I was flabbergasted. I personally felt that Goode’s performance was full of heart and emotion and wonderfully captured the feel of the novel. Goode’s task wasn’t easy, since the first two vignettes have a different feel than the final three. I was impressed that she was able to capture the feel of all the books in this edition, modulating her narrative voice to fit the mood. When the book finally got to the predominant character, Jules, I thought Goode shined. Now, it wasn’t a perfect reading. Goode definitely would have benefited from a strong director or at least a bit of advice on what works and what doesn’t when creating character voices. Some of her male voices came off a bit goofy or a touch grating, and her attempts at some of the children were a little bit sickly sweet.  Yet, despite the issues with some of the male voice, her choices fit the characters as they are described by the author. I thought the range of voices was a bit too much for a homogenous culture, but it serves its purpose by delineating characters. Goode also used a lot of sighs and laughs and the like in the reading, while sometimes they came off unnatural, I appreciated them. All the problems I had with the narration were peripheral to my main impression. Goode brought a level of excitement that I love to see in a narrator. Her voice has a nice rich tone that I felt was just right for Jules. While she does have a bit of work to do, I only see her getting better as a narrator and hope to experience one of her readings again.



3 responses

27 09 2012

this is like the 5th positive review of Wool Omnibus I’ve ran into in the last week or so. I’m one of those people who’s a little trepidations, time to get over it, and read this book already. great review!

11 07 2013
Dan Dan The Art Man

I agree! I don’t understand the plethora of negative reviews of Minnie Goode’s reading of Wool. I absolutely loved it, and I listen to a lot of audio books, I know a bad narrator when I hear one 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this awesome audio book. I loved it!

23 02 2015
Wool, Omnibus Edition by Hugh Howey | The Sleepless Reader

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