Friday, April 19, 2013

The Wool Series by Hugh Howey

The Wool Series is comprised of eight novellas (the first one of which is called Wool) that all take place in a post-apocalyptic USA where a small contingent of survivors are holed up in something resembling a missile silo. Hugh Howey self-published this series through Amazon’s Kindle Direct publishing system starting in 2011. Book 8 was published in January 2013. All the novellas are available in various permutations (singly and in omnibus editions) as Amazon Kindle downloads, and volumes 1-5 are now available in print from Simon & Schuster. Howey made news when he struck his print deal with Simon & Schuster (which occurred after these books were already Kindle bestsellers) because he retained the e-book rights. I wanted to try the series in part because I’ve been enjoying the post-apocalyptic genre, but mostly because I was interested in seeing whether a self-published book was any good. I’m skeptical because they seem like such wild cards – some have lots of spelling and grammatical errors, not to mention derivative plots. I prefer to read books that have been professionally edited – is that such a bad thing?*

I have only read the first three volumes (Wool, Proper Gauge, and Casting Off -- as a knitter I love these allusions but these books are definitely NOT about knitting). So far the plot and setting seem a little like “the survivors of the vampire apocalypse go to District 13” but I have a feeling that greater complexity is right around the corner. At least I hope so; right now these feel a bit formulaic to me, but perhaps that’s a function of reading three in a row, rather than spacing them out as you would if you were caught up. Howey is a good (if workmanlike) writer (and there are no typos); the characters are likable (except those that are supposed to be hate-able) and there is no shortage of strong women characters. That said, why am I not rushing out to read volumes 4-8? I’m not sure. Maybe I just need a break from post-apocalyptic dread?**

I noticed on Amazon that at least four authors have self-published e-books that are set in Howey’s world. From what I can tell, two of the authors have Howey’s blessing, as evidenced by quotes from Howey in the product description. So he’s authorizing fan fiction; that’s interesting.

(Book 12, 2013)

*I know that commercial publishers release bad books all the time, and that many good books never get published.  Nevertheless I don't want to waste my limited reading time on something that absolutely no one has vetted, as is the case with some self-published e-books.

**I promise not to write about this genre any more for a while.


nfl jerseys cheap said...

Thanks so much for all the reviews.
I have used your site frequently as a source for books to read.
Best wishes in all you do.

Laurie C said...

I have this on my Nook, but keep reading other books instead. I've seen so many good reviews of Wool, I've got to get to it soon!

Shelley said...

"A break from dread" sounds perfect. I can only take it if there's something much more than ruined-world-cynical-hero-cute-babes.

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