Feb 132014

Wool1Wool, by Hugh Howey

They’re back! I did not abandon these reviews, I’ve simply been unable to do them for a while. Nov/Dec we only do one book per month, due to holidays. Then I was sick one week, and I didn’t feel I could do an honest “Book Club Review” if I didn’t see the book discussed in an actual book club. And after that we read a sequel to which I hadn’t read the original yet, and I couldn’t read both books in time for the meeting. So, after many weeks, finally I got to see my Book Club friends again yesterday! Yay!!

On to the review.

Synopsis: A generation-ship story set on post-apocalypse Earth, with a few twists (which I won’t spoil). Or: Fallout, before they opened the vaults.

Book Review: Another well-regarded self-published book which, as I’ve mentioned before, inclines me to want to love it and see it succeed. It is very competently written, at the level of many “traditionally” published authors. I loved his portray of a society on the edge of collapse, too complex for any individual to fully understand, so everyone desperately tries to keep it running just one more generation and hopes things won’t fall apart in their own lifetime. But as the book progressed, it started to lose its luster. As a fellow book clubber said: “Howey is very good at writing personal interactions, and politics. He’s not that great with the standard action-adventure fare. The first half of the book plays to his strengths, and the second half of book plays to his weaknesses.” This was a common consensus, so I’m including it. Despite being lengthy the book was a fairly quick read. However, in the end, it won’t stick with me. There was no soul-wrenching emotion, no biting insights, nothing that really spoke to me. I’ve already forgotten much of it, and by this time next year I don’t expect I’ll have any real memories of the book itself. It wasn’t bad, but my time is limited. Not Recommended.

Book Club Review: This is actually a pretty good book for a book club. It’s got a lot of good points, and a lot of flaws. The latter is primarily due to the genre – as Charles Stross has pointed out (in a post I can’t find now) Generation Ships are actually impossible unless you’re literally recreating an entire biosphere and putting an engine on it. Either you’re willing to gloss over the occasional suspension-of-disbelief-breaking for the sake of the story, or you aren’t. As such everyone will find something they feel is unrealistic to the point of forehead-slapping. The interesting thing is that the part that someone really loves, and the part that someone really dislikes, is different for every reader. Comparing which parts stood out for each person (both in good and bad ways) is fascinating, and reveals a bit of each reader’s life experience and expertise. You also get to learn a bit about psychology/sociology/engineering/whatever that reader’s specialty is that was violated. :) Also hearing if they thought the story was good enough to hand-wave the violations or not, and why, is great. Everyone had something to say, and we had one of the highest turnouts ever for this book, even though no one considered it among their favorites. So – Recommended.

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