Posts Tagged ‘Dystopia’

I have just finished reading “Wool” by Hugh Howey.

“Wool” by Hugh Howey (via Goodreads)

The blurb reads:

“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.

But some people choose not to conform.

These are the people who dare to hope and dream.

These are the dangerous ones.

Jules is one of these people.

She may well be the last.”

I picked this book up in Waterstones as it was on a display table by itself, and I was intrigued by the clearly dystopian ideas in the novel, a theme which I have been interested in for years.

I wouldn’t say it is as good as “The Hunger Games” but it is of sufficient interest as a dystopian novel to warrant some attention.

It takes a while to get started in my opinion, even though it dives right into life inside this huge silo, and doesn’t get exciting until people start dying.

It’s interesting how relationships are forged in the silo, with so many rules and restrictions on how they live their lives. The connections between people are vital in aspects of life and death in this novel.

I was disturbed by the way people are punished in this novel, and how easy it is for everything to go wrong quickly.

Juliette is an interesting character: initially an unknown from the bottom of the silo, her promotion brings up to the top of the silo where she starts to learn just how easy it is for things to go wrong and fights for her life and her sanity. When her future in the silo seems lost, she quickly discovers how much people care about her and how their help enables her to survive the very worst thing in their controlled world.

It is a really good novel, although not the best dystopian novel I’ve read. It’s always fascinating to read about different scenarios in a future where things have gone badly wrong. This ranks around a 7/10 because it is an interesting concept what with being underground and has good characters, but it ends too suddenly and too easily for me. I felt short-changed by the ending, but I wasn’t particularly enamoured of the novel as it seems to be missing something, a little je ne sais quoi. It’s full of ideas to think about, but it doesn’t feel as intense, desperate and gripping like other dystopian novels I’ve read. I would like to read the other books in the series, and I hope they will have more in them to hook me.

I have just re-read a short story called “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin. I studied this story at university and thought it was a good example of an almost utopian place.

“The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin (via Goodreads)

A small blurb for this story:

“Some inhabitants of a peaceful kingdom cannot tolerate the act of cruelty that underlies its happiness.” (via Goodreads)

Omelas is beautiful city by the sea, full of people who were happy, yet were not boring or simple. There is no clergy, no King, no soldiers, no slavery, no drugs. Yet the city is not boring: the people who exist there are peaceful but as complex as normal people. Life seems fairly pleasant in Omelas.

Except that there is a terrible secret buried underneath Omelas.

A child is hidden away in the depths of the city, in a disgusting room where little light enters and food only provided every now and then. A couple of people are brought to this room from time to time to witness this poor child in such a sorry state.

The reason this child is in such a terrible condition is to ensure the rest of the city lives happily. One small act of suffering to enable mass content. And everyone in the city knows this.

Some people accept this situation. They live in the city, feeling glad they can live their lives this way.

Occasionally, there are people who don’t like it or can’t see past it. These are the ones who walk away from the city and are never seen again.

The story sounds so nice at first, but you can tell there is something amiss. It reminds me of the idea of Ying and Yang: two halves of a whole, one half good, one half bad, and each cannot exist without even a tiny piece of the other.

It is horrible to read about this poor child, left in darkness with no-one to love it, with hardly any food or drink. I can understand why people stay and why people go. It just goes to show that no kind of utopia can exist because there will always be something that can’t be resolved so that everyone is happy.

“The jagged, saw-edge teeth of the Lunar craters stood up sharply against the light of the sun but what Olga had screamed at was the globe of the Earth, swimming there huge and green in the light from that sun embedded in the black curtain of space.

But now its greenness was tarnished. Ugly fiery streaks coursed around the globe. Dense clouds drifted around the disc, giving the whole sphere a ghastly glowing penumbra. The red cracks grew as they watched and so fiery were they that even the thick masses of cloud did not obscure their fierceness.”

- When The Earth Died, by Karl Mannheim