I'm reading Wool - Omnibus Edition by Hugh Howey, not because it's my preferred genre, not because I've heard of the author, or because the cover caught my eye. I'm reading this book because I just so happened to notice that it had a lot of great reviews.
How many great reviews? This book has amassed 978 reviews and is holding a 4.9-star rating… let me repeat… 978 reviews with a 4.9-star rating. Even as I write that, I'm shaking my head in wonder. How can I not read this? How can I not want to know what it takes to receive such incredible marks? As a writer, I'm obligated to my readers to study this book, and I truly want to read a book like that. Like I said, I don't write science fiction, but as a writer I need to know what a guy or gal does to earn an almost perfect score.
So why is this book so amazing? That's exactly what I'm in the process of learning right now. I've read part one of five and here are my findings… observations from a writers point of view.
1. After part one, I care deeply about the husband and wife team (the primary characters so far). I know who they are, where they've been, and have had a glimpse of their past via narration flashbacks. There's nothing complicated going on. This story feels like it's told by a calm, gentle voice, much like a well-lived grandfather telling a story to his grandchildren, while all ears are glued to his every word… you just don't want to leave.
2. There isn't that much dialogue, which surprises me. The dialogue consists of short lines and almost always accompanied with action no matter how mild it may be. But still, the dialogue is simple, not overly dramatic.
3. Hugh's not trying to impress me with an expansive vocabulary. The writing is simple, clean, and polished. I haven't come across a single stumbling block, misspelled word, or formatting glitch. I'm looking. I'm trying to be critical. I'm studying his sentence structure and paragraph length and word choice. But what I'm finding is that I'm lost in his world building, flow, and the mind of the protagonist. From what I've seen, this book is flawless.
4. Hugh is making this a difficult study. He makes writing look easy. His writing is so clean and so basic that I'm scratching my head trying to figure out why it is so good. And I guess that's what makes it excellent. When the story line is engaging, the writing melts away, the author disappears and the reader dissolves into the book. That's the magic. That's the joy in reading and exactly what I aspire to become.
That's all I can say at this point. I've dissolved and I'm not sure if I'll be able to continue studying. Congrats to Hugh Howey. Wool is excellent and I still have 4 parts to go. Click on the pic to the right to buy. ~>
Jeff Bennington is the best-selling author of Reunion, Twisted Vengeance, and The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe.