5 star book
Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1-5) by Hugh Howey
I purchased Hugh Howey’s Wool Omnibus 1-5 to see why the series had become so popular and launched Howey’s career from indie author to potential mega-stardom. My curiosity was rewarded with one of the best post-apocalyptic science fiction stories I’ve ever read. The book transcends the genre’s clichés to create a post-nuclear world far removed from contemporary reality but strangely near in its intimate dealing with human nature. Many are calling the Wool series “classic”…and I agree.
Wool Omnibus is a series of five novellas that follow the lives of multiple protagonists who inhabit Silo 18, a large underground bunker in what was once the State of Georgia burrowed in the ground as deep as a skyscraper. Designed centuries ago to protect a small remnant of mankind from a harsh environment on the earth’s surface rendered lethal by nuclear strikes, Silo 18 thrives on rules and order intended to keep its inhabitants as safe and secure as they can be in an underworld. The effect of this stark environment on the personalities and behaviors of the characters that appear in the series makes them all too human. The humanity of Howey’s story is what sets it apart from other action-driven books in the genre. The rich, multi-layered world he created lends itself to an expanding universe, perhaps even a multiverse.
Howey cleverly wraps up the plotlines at the end of each novella tightly enough to leave the reader satisfied that the story has ended, but he leaves unanswered questions that draw readers further into his world. The five-part series brings closure but whets one’s appetite for more Wool installments. Combining the novellas into a single novel addresses the one concern I had about the book – that each novella ends much too soon with too many cliffhangers, like a tantalizing bunch of grapes that we want to devour but can only pluck one by one. The Omnibus satiates this desire by offering the first five novellas in one book.
Wool Omnibus 1-5 earns my enthusiastic praise as one of the best stories I’ve read in the science fiction genre. I give it five stars and highly recommend it to any reader. Even those who do not like post-apocalyptic stories should find something to love.
Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1-5) is now available at:
Embryo by J.A. Schneider
J.A. Schneider’s debut novel Embryo takes you on an emotional high-speed chase through its pages that’s apt to leave you needing medical assistance – to understand fully the nature of bioscience and genetic engineering, that is. It’s a superb medical thriller with a surprise ending that will infect even the most pre-med reader with a curious case of “Could this really happen?”
The story’s protagonist, Jill Raney, a sharp and inquisitive intern who works at a large medical center in New York City, discovers a suspicious pattern of chromosomal abnormalities in pregnant patients and a fetus that died under the hospital’s care. Brushing aside the protestations and admonishments of her superiors and her love interest, Jill digs further and uncovers a shocking secret in the bowels of the hospital’s renowned fertility and genetic engineering facility. What ensues is a thrilling race against time as she tries to get to the bottom of the terrifying mystery and halt the bloodshed before more patients – or she – fall victims to the terror lurking in the hospital’s corridors.
The novel’s fast pace and plot twists left me turning the pages to keep up with Jill and her next move. The ending’s unexpected conclusion tied up loose ends and set the scene for a sequel. Embryo tackles the thorny issue of genetic engineering with a deft hand. The author avoids moralizing about playing god but challenges readers to consider the moral and ethical implications of biological engineering in an intense, entertaining story. A former staffer at Newsweek Magazine who can tell a story worthy of news headlines, Schneider demonstrates a solid grasp of the medical field and the ability to simplify technical concepts in a way even a novice can understand.
If I have any quibbles about the book, it’s that its medical terminology – such as abruptio plancentae – sent me scurrying to look them up in an outside source. Although the author did a fair job of explaining the term in the story without bogging it down, a reader with little knowledge of primary care medicine and epidemiology may be left struggling to understand what’s happening.
Schneider has written a gem of a book. I give Embryo five stars and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys medical thrillers. You’ll be left looking forward to reading more.
Embryo is now available at: