When the world was created, it only housed 148 levels. To keep the world structured and orderly, rules were established to protect the status quo. The first rule is never mention that you would like to go outside. This is life in Hugh Howey’s The Wool Omnibus, the world of the silo. For as long as anyone can remember, the silo is the only thing protecting the people from the toxic environment outside. The cameras viewing this wasteland need to be cleaned periodically with a piece of wool. Those condemned to go outside always perform their duty, but never return to the silo.
I am not sure why I picked up this book. I have never been a fan of dystopian novels. However, there is something different about The Wool Omnibus. There are three stories being told. The very first story sets the stage as a man tries to discover why his wife went outside. The second tale deals with the aftermath of the first with a tragic love twist. The final story ties together the other two as we find out exactly what the silo is.
As much as I enjoyed the characters and the story, it was the silo itself that drew me in. Howey created a culture uniquely based on the restrictions that the silo offers. Porters carry goods and messages between levels. The journey from the top (and upper-class) to the bottom (and lower-class) of the silo takes three to four days. While I am sure there are physical limitations to the silo, you never quite get the feeling of those limitations. There is an air of mystique to the silo with a touch of menace that the silo could turn on you at any moment. This place has sheltered mankind for a long time, but has it been for their benefit or destruction?
This is more than a science fiction story or a dystopian novel. It is a story of people trying to figure what their lives mean and what answers they can find. One of my favorite stories of the year.