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Dystopian fiction is at the height of popularity, even if it has been around for decades. The term comes from a play on the word “utopia” coined by Thomas More. Dystopia is a society that claims to be perfect, fair and equal, but in reality offers regression and a controlled state. In fiction, the dystopian society is often characterized by overcrowding, oppression, human misery, and squalor.
Most popular right now among teens and young adults, the dystopian genre is dominated by The Hunger Games and Divergent. The Giver, a Newberry Award Winner, and The City of Ember (series) offers dystopian reads for the Middle Grade set. Among adult books, this genre tends toward a post-apocalyptic, horror type read, often with zombies in the population.
Then along came Wool. Hugh Howey originally wrote this short fiction in 12,000 words, 60 pages, and never intended the story to become the phenomenon that it has. Readers clamored for more, and it spawned a five part serial of shorts. As a series, it has sold over 100,000 copies since its publication in summer of 2011 , and 20th Century Fox is now optioning it for a movie.
I read the first story in this series out of curiosity for the hype (before the movie deal ramped the hype more). My expectations were low, considering that the writer is self-published, and popular fiction can sometimes be too artsy or go over my head. Imagine my shock when I found purposeful prose, mesmerizing characters, and a story with more twists than you’d expect in sixty pages. There are few writers of whom I can say “I want to write like that when I grow up.” On that list are Poe, Hemingway, Wilde, and Koontz – after reading Wool, it now contains Howey.
The first story in this series is only 99 cents on kindle, perfect if you just want to dip your toes in this ocean of prose. Or if you’re ready to make the full commitment, Howey offers the omnibus of all five stories in the Wool dystopian universe. Then again, you could always…
Congratulations to Greg Schmidt, Winner of THE KINDLE EDITION of the Wool Omnibus!