Book reviews and assorted musings of a book lover

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Wool by Hugh Howey
Publisher: Century
Published: 2012
537 pages (US Hardcover)
Received: Bought at an independent bookstore

“In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo. Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies.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. Their punishment is simple and deadly. They are allowed outside. Jules is one of these people. She may well be the last.”

“What would you do if the world outside was deadly and the air you breathed could kill? And you lived in a place where every birth required a death, and the choices you made could save lives or destroy them?

This is Jules story.

This is the world of Wool.”

I had seen this book in a few different stores, but had put it back on the shelf more than once. I regret doing that, because this book was amazing. It was thought-provoking and gripping and I loved every minute of it. I got this while I was on vacation and instead of swimming at the beach, I was completely absorbed in the story.

To start off, this is an adult dystopian novel. The setting is a massive underground silo, with over one hundred levels. The top is were the wealthy live, the middle is for the computers and middle class, and the bottom is for the Mechanics, where our main character comes from.

Juliette, Jules to everyone, is stubborn, strong willed, and creative. She works in the darkest, dirtiest place in the entire silo, and loves it there. She is the best girl for any job. I loved her take on problems that didn’t involve her and how her sense of right and wrong drove her to ask questions. I loved following her through the story and I was rooting for her the whole time.

For the record, the title has nothing to do with the book. There is no wool in the story, not even sheep. I don’t quite understand where the title came from. Perhaps he is referencing the saying, “removing the wool from someones eyes”, but it seems a bit far-fetched. It bugged me the whole book.

I found this book to be a more mature Hunger Games. An oppressive government keeping secrets from the people, a heroine fighting for the truth, and a world that is alien, but at the same time eerily similar to our own.

This story was originally five separate novellas, that have now been combined to make this great book. Each one is slightly different, whether in perspective or overall tone, but they all flow together.

This is the sort of book I would recommend to anyone. When I finished it, I begged members of my family to read it. No one has yet, but I will be suggesting this to everyone I know for a long time.

Overall opinion: I absolutely loved this book. Five stars, ten stars, the highest it can go. The title was annoying, but the book itself was spectacular. As I said, I suggest this to anyone and everyone.

If you liked this book, you may also like:

The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

Update (9/5/13) : I just discovered that Wool is part of a trilogy. Woohoo, two more books!!! I’m so excited. The second is called Shift and the third is called Dust! I can’t believe I didn’t see them sooner. I want to read them so bad!

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Published: 2013
457 pages (US Hardcover)
Received: An ARC in a contest on Goodreads

“After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until see meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother – or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.”

     I wanted to read this book since I saw the blurb. The idea of different waves of destruction really caught my attention. The aliens didn’t outright attack, but sent four waves to wreck havoc on Earth. The first killed the power, the second was a massive tsunami, the third was a deadly disease and the fourth was them picking off humans. I wanted to know how people survived these “waves”. Not to mention, it had a cool cover; just a girl walking by herself.

     I really enjoyed Cassie’s narrative. She spoke as a girl that grew up during a series of catastrophic events, and turned into a different person. She is strong and smart, and devoted to finding her brother. I liked how she carried his teddy bear to remind her of her promise. She is sarcastic and I found myself rooting for her from page one. She is afraid, but she hasn’t given up and when faced with a choice, she decides to fight. I loved her spirit, and the way she tried to not let her past decisions haunt her.

     Throughout the entire book, I felt connected to Cassie. She lost everything and is now all alone, but she feels compelled to find and rescue her brother. She is realistic about her situation and predicament and she doesn’t hide her fear of death. I understood her and could easily relate. I believe that most readers, male or female, will be able to, on some level, connect with Cassie. The author does an amazing job of creating a character that in no way feels like a piece of fiction, but rather like a friend.

     I was hesitant about the character change, when halfway through the book the point-of-view was no longer Cassie’s. I was deeply engrossed in Cassie’s story and I didn’t want to leave. However, because of the change the reader experiences the other side of humanity. The other children that are now being trained to fight and kill. I didn’t like the nicknames, “Zombie” and “Nugget” were just odd and I stumbled over them. I was horrified to see how the children were treated and manipulated in the camps.

     I am usually against relationships in books, most times it takes away from the story, in my opinion. At first, I was disappointed when I realized that there was indeed going to be a relationship between certain characters (it’s very difficult not to write any spoilers), however, the author manages to balance out the relationship(s) with action and suspense. It didn’t feel forced or rushed, and it didn’t hinder the story at all.

    The pace of this book is just right. Cassie’s flashbacks allow the reader to see who she was before the Arrival and how she has changed. Her memories, such as the Crucifix Man, haunt her. There is enough action to keep you interested and enough backstory so the characters seem real. I could not put it down, I was hooked. I am fairly certain I missed a few meals while I was reading this and I anticipate doing the same when the next book comes out (which it is scheduled to do so next spring).

Overall Opinion: I loved this book. It was fast-paced and the characters were realistic and imperfect. Cassie especially. There were plenty of unanticipated plot twists that blew my mind and I could not put the book down. This book got me in a dystopian book craze. The author does a great job of creating an unfamiliar setting, even though it takes place on Earth. I absolutely cannot wait for the second book.

If you liked this book, you may also like:

Divergent by Veronica Roth

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell
Published: 2006
512 pages (US Hardcover)
Received: A used book sale at my local library

  “An orphan’s life is harsh- and often short- in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentlemen Bastards, Lock is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly.
     Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Lock vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game- or die trying….”

     My first reaction after finishing this book was “Wow. I haven’t read anything like that in a long time.” It draws you in and tells a story that you will not soon forget. It’s complex and layered, the characters are lovingly imperfect , and the setting is not pristine. It’s gritty and realistic, and I loved every word of it.

     Surprisingly, I had to put the book down the first time I read it. I couldn’t get past the cursing, particularly the use of the “F” word. This is my personal preference when it come to fantasy. When characters use swear words from real life, it takes away from the story, and breaks the illusion. The characters in the beginning of the book curse frequently and profusely. I expected the entire book to be like that, and I didn’t want to read it, at first.

     Once I got past the exposition, and began to discover Locke’s story, I realized that this was going to be a different kind of tale. It wasn’t going to be pretty or heroic, there weren’t any knights or princesses. Locke Lamora is an orphan, living in a graveyard, who eventually is bought by Father Chains and learns the fine art of thieving. The author uses flashbacks to show how Locke grows from street rat to criminal mastermind.  These flashbacks were usually in chronological order, and as a result, the reader sees Locke grow up and befriend Jean and the Sanza twins. The relationship he has with these young men is profound and defines Locke as a character.

     Scott Lynch is a master at manipulating his story. Not a single word of this story is a mistake, there are absolutely no accidents in his writing. Everything comes back, ever detail is important, everything is connected and convoluted. There is no black or white in Camorr. More than once I came up with a logical guess as to what would happen next, but after a few pages realized that logical thinking doesn’t help you figure out where the story is going go. I would say to myself, “Here is a perfectly understandable reason for this character to do this, but hang on… nope, I was way off. Why didn’t I think of that?” The reader is as much in the dark to Locke’s plan as his mark is. I enjoyed figuring out the scheme along with the Don and Dona Salvara.

     I loved all the characters. Locke is the charismatic, charming, smooth talker. Jean is the scholarly skull cracker. The Sanza twins, Calo and Galdo, are twin perverts, but are endearing with their banter. Bug is the apprentice, the youngest, and he looks up to all of them. Locke is like a big brother to all of his friends. He protects them and in turn, Jean protects him. Sometimes the two of them would sound like an old married couple.

     The book takes place completely in the city of Camorr. This is a rough and tumble city, where crime runs rampant in the streets. Because of the Gentlemen Bastards exclusive dealing with the wealthy citizens, the reader sees very different sides of Camorr. The Don and Dona represent the nobility. they watch pseudo-gladiatorial games, where the “gladiator” must face off against a man-eating shark that can leap from the water, and they drink rare wines and squabble amongst themselves. However, Locke and Jean don’t always rub noses with the elite, and that is when the reader experiences the darker side of Camorr. The side where you must always watch your purse and your back. The shadowy underbelly of the magnificent Camorr. Ruthlessly ruled by Capa Barsavi, there is a tenacious Secret Peace between thieves and the “police” force.

     The Gray King is a spectacular ‘Bad Guy’. I hated him. He is completely and utterly despicable. He was clever and managed to out-think Locke and Jean for a while. I wanted both he and his Bondsmagi, the Falconer, to die. I have to say, he is one of my most un-favorite characters I have ever read. But I couldn’t stop reading, I had to know what he did next.

     Mr. Lynch is not only a manipulator of plot, but of language as well. He spins sentences effortlessly and easily portrays his character based on the words they say. Locke is incredibly eloquent, both when he is in disguise and when he argues with his friends. this book is full of memorable quips. He manages to make the characters both sarcastic and wise at the same time.

Overall Opinion: I really enjoyed this book. I still can’t stop thinking about it. I will be comparing the next dozen books I read to this one. I fell in love with the characters, even if they were thieves (They, at least, were thieves with morals). For me, I didn’t like the cursing, it took away from the story, but that is my only complaint. I loved the world that Mr. Lynch created, the cultures, the histories, and most importantly, the bond he crafted between the Gentlemen Bastards.

If you liked this book, you may also like:

The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick