Monday, December 9, 2013

WOOL (Review)

A lot of people will say that Wool is the greatest science fiction novel in decades. And then you’ll have the occasional straggler who says Wool is utterly overrated. The thing is, if you’ve discovered Wool prior to its Simon & Schuster-published release on March 12th, 2013, then you very likely specifically searched for dystopian or post-apocalyptic books—more likely than not, you found Wool on countless Goodreads lists or maybe a blog or two (plus, at the time, Wool’s Omnibus edition was quite cheap)—and with that being said, Wool delivers on its promise (and premise): it is an original science fiction book with dystopian and post-apocalyptic undertones.


What makes Wool so dang good is that I can actually see the world and people he describes; and I—despite the avid reader that I am—have trouble with some science fiction works within the last decade (Neil Stephenson’s The Diamond Age comes to mind: the concept is good, but its discombobulated with so many scientific terms and ideas that the characters and details are lost in the background; Wool’s characters and locations, on the other hand, are crystal clear). And Hugh Howey never lets the science outweigh the characters. We accept that the characters know what they’re doing; that’s good enough for the reader. Many science fiction writers tend to go overboard on the “science” part of science fiction, rather than the fiction.


The premise is simple. It’s not overly perplexed. People live in underground silos; to control their population, one person is sent out to die in a toxic world (which brings us to the plot of the novel, and the reason for the title—the people are given wool suits to wear; they are given the task to go out into the wastelands, clean the sensors—which are essentially cameras, so everyone else can see the landscape—and then . . . die), and then, after the cleaning, one married couple are given permission to have a child. This processed has gone on for hundreds of years.


Wool begins with a LOST-esque mystery which unravels over the course of a few chapters until we meet the main protagonist, Juliette. That’s as much of the plot that I’ll get into. Just consider Wool as Game of Thrones-esque drama in the confines of an underground silo.


Expect great things from Hugh Howey in the future because the future of science fiction (and self-publishing) is in his hands.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Gifts for the Serious Reader: Book Series

Firstly, this is a list of only five book series. In case I don't choose your favorite franchise, don't be offended. For this list, I mostly stayed away from young adult series (with the exception of Abarat), since young adult series seem to be blowing up pop culture lately; plus I really want to give recognition to series that are underappreciated (with the exception of A Song of Ice and Fire, but even so, I fear many will skip the books and just watch the masterful HBO series—but guess what? As good as the show is, the books are better).

Without further ado, I bring to you five series that would be ideal for the serious reader you know as Christmas gift.


Stephen King—you’ve heard of him, I know you have. You’re probably familiar with his more popular works, such as The Stand, ‘salem’s Lot, and The Shining. However, horror isn’t all that Stephen King writes. A lot of people are blown away by the fact that he wrote Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.
Which brings us to the first gift for the reader you know: The Dark Tower series.

Combining Science Fiction, Horror, Action, Western, Romance, you name it—it’s the Linkin Park of book series, you could say. And the books are incredibly written (The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass is my favorite novel of all time). The ending is similar to J.J. Abrams’ LOST—you’ll either love it, or hate it, but you’ll feel a whole storm of emotions overcome you.

And get this . . . the Dark Tower series connects to other Stephen King books, so if one gets hooked on TDT, they will have a very busy reading schedule in 2014.

Unfortunately, however, there isn't a set where you can buy all seven books. But I recommend buying the boxed set containing the first four books (which are considered the best in the series anyway).

Similar to: LOST (TV show), Fringe (TV show), Thor (film series)

PRICE: $26.05.
(not including the last three books)


Yes, the HBO television series is great, but the book series is even better. A Song of Ice and Fire is the greatest fantasy series (by an American writer) of all time. Hands down. And nobody kills off characters better than George R.R. Martin.

Similar to: Lord of the Rings, Skyrim (video game)

PRICE: $27.47


There's a lot of talk about Hugh Howey. If you haven't heard of him, then perhaps you've been living under a rock (or aren't into books; but this isn't about you, it's about whoever you're thinking about buying this series for for Christmas).

Hugh Howey is a self-published author. What does that mean? He didn't have an agent, a professional editor, or a publisher. The first book in the series, Wool, started out as a short story e-book; and then, over time, fans wanted Hugh to finish the book. And he's written two other books since, Shift and Dust.

A lot of people consider Wool as one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time; I concur.

Similar to: Fallout 3 (video game), Oblivion (film)

PRICE: $41.28


Robert McCammon is one of the most magical writers out there; nobody writes characters quite like him. From Swan Song (often compared to Stephen King's The Stand) to Boy Life (which has a perfect 5-star rating on to Gone South, McCammon's characters really come to life. He creates characters that we understand, that we can see; there's never a moment where the reader thinks, People don't talk like that. (Trust me, as much as I love Stephen King, there are lots of dialogue that isn't natural.)

You won't be disappointed in the Matthew Corbett series. The series consists of: Speaks the Nightbird, The Queen of Bedlam, *Mister Slaughter, and The Providence Rider.*

Similar to: Sherlock Holmes, The Raven (film)

PRICE: $27.20 (*note: 2nd two books are only ebooks at the moment*)


Disclaimer: this is an odd book series full of odd characters with an overall very odd tone. Clive Barker wrote The Hellbound Heart (later adapted into the beloved cult classic Hellraiser); but this series isn't quite as dark. It's one of those series, while reading it, I couldn't quite tell if it was for young adults or for adults. But I certainly do recommend this series for young adults; fans of Harry Potter would definitely enjoy this series. Plus Clive Barker doesn't get nearly as much recognition as he deserves.

The Abarat series consists of three books so far: Abarat, Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War, and Abarat: Absolute Midnight.

Similar to: Neil Gaiman (author), Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and a really bizarre dream.

PRICE: $24.15

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comment section.