Wool by Hugh Howey
I can give this book 4 stars.
The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars was the author's propensity for drawn out descriptions of settings and/or characters' actions and some of the characters which I thought would carry through to the end were killed off early in the story.
I've never read anything by this author before and I found the writing excellent and the plot compelling with well-developed believable characters.
Claustrophobia and dread permeates the opening chapters and you can sense the oppression and the subjugation. This is a society without free will; people are just worker drones going about their daily routine with no questions asked. If they dare ask questions about going outside, they are suited up and send outside into the toxic atmosphere to clean the lenses and end up dying almost immediately after they finish the cleaning.
The fact that even though the silo-144 stories deep into the earth connected by a long spiral staircase-has advanced technology, it lacked an elevator. This at first, was hard to get my head around but when I realised that this was a device designed to keep people in their place be it below ground where all the workers existed, or above ground where the hierarchy lived it made sense.
The people live and die trapped inside this silo. They are told the atmosphere is toxic and the land is ruined. The small community is separated, with the farmers and mechanics in the lower third, information-technology workers in the heart of the structure and the leaders and law makers in the upper level. All wear color-coded uniforms. Everyone must abide by rigid sets of rules from the number of children to the number and kinds of pets they are allowed.
I did like Juliette, the main character, though I would have liked it if the author introduced her sooner in the story, and followed her struggles to the ending which wasn't an ending at all as you need to read the next two books to find out what happens.
If you enjoy downbeat sci fi and dystopian with a touch of steam punk, then Wool is for you.
Review by O. N. Stefan. Author of The Deadly Caress.