Wool by Hugh Howey, (2011) This book is science fiction, set in the far future, with people living in 100 story silos without the majority of the people being aware that there are other silos with living people as well. Cartoon villain, but it is hard to write good villains.
This book was a pretty good read, despite my criticisms here. It started out pretty interesting with the world building, but I had a lot of trouble suspending my disbelief that anyone designing silo underground living would NOT HAVE AN ELEVATOR. The whole protagonists must overcome “obstacles” is routine, but usually the obstacles should be believable. 100 stories and lots of equipment and so on, yet no explanation to justify why no elevators. Maybe I missed some sentence or two somewhere offering some lame excuse but I would think that it would be a critical component. However, the desire to have “runners” who pound up and down stairs (geez, not even a DUMBWAITER) to carry stuff and messages is so absurd that it really spoiled the book for me entirely. Of course, I could predict that there would be a fight and that the ability to blockade said SINGLE stairwell would be a crucial plot element (one I just started flipping through yada yada yada). Similarly, it was totally obvious that the second tube [spoiler alert, although of course you will guess before getting there anyway] would have one more person lurking.
I don’t remember now how I learned about The Core of the Sun, but I am so glad I did, and so glad my public librarians are astute and consistently have almost every book I want to read. Johanna Sinisalo is Finnish, so that is unusual to have the opportunity to read books by Finnish authors. But, WOW, this book is so original and odd and the dystopia envisioned is akin to what all the critics are saying when they compare it to The Handmaid’s Tale, one of my favorite books ever.
On Goodreads, after reading some of the reviews, I wrote:
Michael’s description was well done, but did include an error: it is Vanna, the morlock lead character who becomes addicted to chilies. Manna is the sister she is looking for. And it must have been important to the author to also head the chapters with Vanna/Vera because it represents how they even took her original name away from her, just because they could or as a deliberate psychological ploy. The comment is made a bit later about not allowing women to have r in their names, but it was not explored or explained further, beyond her later meeting a morlock woman with an r in her name. But she just leaves it there, without attributing any significance to it. So I was kind of waiting for that to be a foreshadowing of a twist of some sort, or some further exploration on gendered names, but none was developed. It is a slim book, and probably would be too digressive from the narrative if she didn’t have a consistent basis for it in her world-building.