Week #21 – Hugh Howie – Wool (Silo Trilogy 1)


This weeks blurb breakdown is Hugh Howie’s, Wool, the first book in his Silo’s trilogy.

At the time of writing it was 58th in Amazon UK best-selling kindle store, and number one in the post-apoc category.

Here’s the blurb…

Here’s the Amazon link for a closer look

The breakdown…

Opening: 

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SOON TO BE A MAJOR APPLE TV SERIES

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Ooh look… Social proof. And you can’t get more socially proofed than the credibility that an Apple TV series brings.

Thrilling, thought-provoking and memorableone of dystopian fiction’s masterpieces alongside the likes of 1984 and Brave New World.’ DAILY EXPRESS

They chose this bunch of superlatives to sell you on the experience, coupling it with the genre signalling and comparison books. It’s a pretty strong opener. Then we get into the blurb proper…

In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo. 

As is common among sci-fi stories, there’s a heavy focus on world building. Here, the repetition of ‘In a […]’ makes you read faster, and rather than bloating your brain with info, the repetition helps it slide straight in. 

‘Ruined’ and ‘hostile’ and ‘future’ and ‘unlucky enough to survive’, all nicely signal the genre. It also uses the rule of threes to set the scene. 

Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies.

This is an intriguing line as it opens up some questions. Why are they living in a silo? What are the rules? Who’s making the rules? What secrets? What lies? Oooh, I must read on to find out…

The other ‘trick’ to note is the use of repetition, again. It’s two sneaky little ‘of’s, and again, it gives you information without bloating your brain. You can kind of skip over it quickly to build a solid mental image. 

To live, you must follow the rules. But some don’t. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others with their optimism.

This paints a pretty grim picture of life in the silo. A dangerous one. I like the contrast of hope and optimism being dangerous.  

Their punishment is simple and deadly. They are allowed outside.

Now this is a juicy open loop—well, a few loops actually. Why are they being punished for their optimism? Death seems a pretty harsh punishment for hope. What’s happened to the earth that makes going outside so deadly?

Jules is one of these people. She may well be the last.

Notice how it’s not until the last line that we get to the name of the main character. We’re not told anything about any other characters. They used pretty much the whole blurb to set the scene and we’re left wondering who this Jules is, why she might be the last to hope and the last to die.

Traditionally, you’d want a little more information about a character to form a mental image of them and to help you empathise with them. Here, what’s happening is you empathise with her because they’ve set up the hard reality she’s living in.

All that’s said about her is that she’s optimistic and that puts her in danger. It’s got a fighting for the underdog, against-all-odds kinda vibe and that’s what makes you want to find out what happens to her. 

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‘The next Hunger Games’ SUNDAY TIMES

‘Well written, tense, and immensely satisfying, Wool will be considered a classic for many years in the future.’ WIRED

‘Howey’s Wool is an epic feat of imagination. You will live in this world.’ JUSTIN CRONIN

‘Wool is frightening, fascinating, and addictive. In one word, terrific.’ KATHY REICHS

And at the end, we have this closing of the social proof sandwich. These are well chosen quotes that build up an image of the experience of reading this book.

The overall effect of this book description sets the scene and builds curiosity, they dangle enough carrots to whet the appetite of dystopian fans. I have to say, it’s on my TBR pile.

Have you got any thoughts about it?

Want to suggest a book description to breakdown?

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