A blog for people who take books seriously, but little else.

A Review and a Half? What Does That Even MEAN?

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading the last two books in Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld Series. Since I’ve been gone a bit, I’m going to give you a review and a half. For the half, I am going to suggest that you read the series. Ms. Armstrong has a unique vision of the supernatural, and an enjoyable writing style. As there are thirteen novels in the series, and I’m actually intending to give you a full dose of my Irreverent thoughts on another subject, I’m not going to summarize the individual stories. However, you’ll meet beings familiar and unfamiliar, and discover a mythology different from any you may have read previously. These are serious books, not particularly lighthearted, and they manage to mention adult issues without focusing on them, or causing yours truly to roll her eyes. That puts Ms. Armstrong head and shoulders above others writing in the genre. I enjoy her, and I think you will, too.


Dystopia, despite being a scary place, is more familiar place to most humans than Utopia. The Matrix theorized that people would not accept Utopia as real. Don’t worry, I’m not about to talk about The Matrix. My point is simply that I accepted that idea rather easily. I tend to worry when things are going too well, waiting for the BOOM of disaster. With the preponderance and popularity of dystopian fiction, I suspect I am not alone. Most dystopian fiction is irreverent by its nature. We are taught from childhood that most people are basically decent, and for Dystopia to arise, they must not be. I’m a pessimist, but even if you happen to be an optimist, how many times are you actually shocked by the horrors going on around you? Disgusted, yes, but surprised? Not often. From my youthful readings of Anthem, and Fahrenheit 451, I have explored this genre most of my life. You’ve probably read a few dystopian novels yourself, if you enjoy the irreverent.

I recently discovered Wool, by Hugh Howey. I have only been lucky enough to read the first story in this series. I think when you are knocked off your feet by art, you should probably remember what led you to the spot, but I honestly don’t. Maybe I ran across a review, maybe it was suggested to me by Amazon, but whatever the agency, I’m grateful.

According to the blurb: “Thousands of them have lived underground. They’ve lived there so long, there are only legends about people living anywhere else. Such a life requires rules. Strict rules. There are things that must not be discussed. Like going outside. Never mention you might like going outside.

Or you’ll get what you wish for. “

I was very simply blown away by this piece. While the modern world of publishing may make the definition of length—short story vs. novella—increasingly irrelevant, 58 pages is a short work. I make this point to say that the density of the work surpasses many novels. Howey’s world simply closes in around you, a fully realized dystopian society. The people, and their desperation, are palpably real. Modern authors sometimes sacrifice detail from their word pictures in the interest of cutting the work to the bone, as the fashion is. They should take lessons from Howey. Not a word is wasted, but vivid imagery and characterization take shape nonetheless. The story hits like a punch in the gut. There are six more of them so far, and I can’t wait to read them. On the Imaqulotta Scale, I consider Wool to be Heavenly.

2 responses

  1. Wool sounds good. I’ll be looking into that…

    October 9, 2012 at 11:10 am

    • jenxbyron

      Oh, you definitely should. It’s primo, sledgehammer between the eyes bad-ass.

      October 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm

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