Hugh Howey's Wool was originally published as five novella-length e-books that he wrote while working at Scholars' Bookshop in Boone, N.C. His novel is set in the far future, with humans living in an enormous silo under the ground in a society long since stratified to ensure their own survival. There is dissent in the air, though; glimpsing freedom through the pixelated screens piped in from the ruined outside, a few souls risk everything to find the truth.

Wool begins with a melancholy that pervades every page, as a bereaved sheriff makes the inexorable way up the silo to his death, and from there it spins an action-packed, suspenseful yarn with intensity and depth. Who built the silo? What lies outside? Who truly runs things? No character is left unscarred by the events; many will not make it all the way to the end.

Mayor Jahns tries to talk Sheriff Holston out of throwing his life away; she is herself fated to find out how far those in power will go to keep the secrets of the silo safe. Juliette, a young mechanical engineer from the deepest levels of the silo, takes the stage only in the third act, but she quickly becomes the focus of Howey's tale. A hasty denouement doesn't spoil the brilliance of this post-apocalyptic novel. The characters are fully realized and well written, and the story itself is gripping from start to finish. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

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