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Showing 1-25 of 39 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 6, 2012 11:28:03 PM PST
Josh Gribble says:
Wool clearly has a very high score in the customer reviews. The percentage of 5 stars blows away every other rating, with only 4 stars offering any competition (and this is not even close). The thing is, this seems TOO good. If there were few reviews, that would be one thing, but at 2,500 reviews you have to take it seriously. By comparison, Wool has more 5 star reviews than the mega hit "A Game of Thrones," and considerably fewer negative reviews. So, whats the deal? Is it:

1. Legitimately an amazing book that will remembered as a classic.
2. A good/decent book that greatly exceeds the low expectations of readers.
3. A good/decent book with a very strong and active following, possibly (slightly) distorting the rating system.
4. A decent/bad book with some kind of rating fraud

Posted on Dec 13, 2012 9:23:54 PM PST
I think it is a legitimately amazing book. Will it be remembered as a classic? There is no magic formula for that. Many a worthy book lies forgotten while comparatively lesser books stand the test of time. Should it be? I think so, in part because of the quality of the storytelling and in part because of the self-publishing aspect and what it has the potential to say for the world of self publishing.

Posted on Jan 2, 2013 2:19:24 PM PST
catullus says:
For what it's worth - of my 17 reviews, this is my second 5-star. And the first one for a fiction book. I could have given it a 4, I guess, but for fiction read in 2012 (of which I still haven't rated all), this is the best. So why hold back?

Posted on Jan 24, 2013 11:41:09 AM PST
Perhaps a lot of people simply really liked the book. You leave that out of your options. Your list forces people to either think the book will become a classic or choose from three disparaging choices. I don't know if it will become a classic, but it doesn't have to become a classic to be a good book and have a lot of people who like it. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean that other people - even a lot of other people - don't like it.

The sales of this book rank #235 on the list of paid books, and #20 in the science fiction list. Thus it's not much of a surprise that it has a lot of ratings, and that people rate it highly.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 24, 2013 12:17:56 PM PST
Good stuff Robert. Additionally the book has been signed to a print publishing deal in the UK and US and the film rights have been sold to legitimate well known film makers. People like Ridley Scott don't option movie rights to a book that has a bunch of fake positive reviews.

Posted on Jan 30, 2013 11:31:11 AM PST
E. TeSelle says:
I gave it 5 stars and it was b/c it was really one of the best sci fi/dystopian books I've read (and I've read a lot). I know it seems unlikely that so many people would love it, but, well, they just DO! I'm now one of Hugh Howey's FB "friends," but I've never met the guy and I knew nothing about him at all when I downloaded the first one. It was just really GOOD!

Posted on Feb 1, 2013 5:27:22 PM PST
TazerProof says:
I gave it five stars and hardly every review books. I felt this book earned all five stars and just wanted to help give anyone even remotly hesitant the extra boost to read this story.

Posted on Feb 3, 2013 10:56:41 PM PST
Josh Gribble says:
Thanks for your input. It certainly seems that we can rule out the option of some kind of weird ratings fraud. I still find the reviews for this book rather intriguing and wonder about the elements that came together to generate such a high percentage of readers writing reviews and such high ones at that. This is by no means a criticism, just genuine curiosity.

Thanks to feedback suggesting the reviews are in fact legit, I gave the first 2 stories a try and although they weren't really my cup of tea I can applaud the unique setting and solid writing.

Posted on Feb 4, 2013 5:07:11 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 4, 2013 5:08:56 PM PST
Travis Stein says:
So I bought the Wool 1-5 Omnibus edition yesterday and so far I'm digging it. A little strange and different kind of dystopia read, but I am enjoying it and see why people like it. It reminds me a lot of playing Fallout for xbox and 360 with the whole outside world has undergone extreme trauma, people can only live in certain areas, etc. I loved Fallout, so I could be a little biased but it's definitely been a good read so far. I'm on book #4.

I was pretty skeptical as well with the outpouring of 4 and 5 star reviews. At the same time, I wanted to try out a book that had been well-reviewed and haven't been disappointed so far.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 4, 2013 5:11:00 PM PST
I had the same reaction to Wool in regards to getting that Fallout vibe. Made reading the book even more fun.

Posted on Feb 6, 2013 12:53:51 PM PST
D.Marie says:
I had a passing wonderment of the same question "How could a book have that many consistent 5 star reviews?" -- and then when you compared it to the "Game of Thrones" ratings, I was more confused still. As I said in my review of this book, the first chapter/book was amazing. From then on, I found it to be only okay. "Game of Thrones" is about twenty times better. Perhaps those books just get more highly criticized because they are more well-known?

Posted on Feb 7, 2013 8:58:33 AM PST
Sandy says:
I wondered this myself as well! I read the series and didn't think it was worth even half of the praise it's been getting here. I think I rated it 3 stars. It makes me wonder if these reviews are legitimate because like you've said, they're way too high.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 7, 2013 9:10:52 AM PST
It is a really silly argument to doubt the legitimacy of the reviews after all this time. Self-published books that don't deserve their praise don't get picked up by major publishing companies and released all over the world and don't get major movie deals. It is perfectly understandable and expected that some will like the book more than others. It would be silly if we all had the same taste. But those who praise the book for what we believe it is (a 4 or 5 star read)...and I am one of them...are giving it our honest opinion.

Posted on Feb 7, 2013 9:25:15 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 7, 2013 9:28:20 AM PST
D.Marie says:
I agree, and I think the people that love this series truly love it. But I think this comment section is a more believable microcosm of reviews -- there are those that rate it very highly (the majority), and then a fair but lesser share of those that found it to be around 3-star worthy. That is more realistic to me than the truly startling amount of 5-star reviews.

At first when choosing a Kindle book, I would glance at that ratings bar graph and not bother to delve into the comments. I've since learned my lesson, and even scroll through two or three pages of comments to see what some of the mediocre reviews say. If the 3-star reviews seem honest and genuine, I give it a second thought. If the mediocre reviews sound unfair and biased, I tend to believe the high ratings. It's just that many of the 5 star reviews seem too HYPER SUPER PRAISING for me to feel that they are genuine. I've learned that the rating system on Amazon is just a teensy bit flawed. If I had glanced at the "Game of Thrones" rating and passed on it, I would truly be remiss. I've just mentioned that book because the originator of this thread brought it up, but there are certainly others that fall into that category. For instance, Stephen King's "The Stand" is probably my favorite post-apocalyptic novel, hands down, not even close, and that has a lesser rating than Wool. Granted, I know that Amazon ratings don't revolve around my own personal tastes, but I know I share that sentiment with many other readers. That's all I'm saying. As I mentioned in my previous post, it could be that reviewers tend to be harsher on well-known authors and "classics."

Posted on Feb 27, 2013 2:20:19 PM PST
Josh Gribble says:
Read an article on Yahoo news,"Author of hit Wool reveals how he went from working in a bookshop to Hollywood in 18 months," and thought I'd post about it here.

Posted on Mar 25, 2013 7:46:42 AM PDT
Wundt says:
FWIW - I gave Game of Thrones 3 stars. I thought the first book had some good concepts, but it also meandered and had significant amount that could have been cut, resulting in a better, cleaner book. Martin seemed to enjoy being edgy for the sake of being edgy. The rest of the books meandered even more, all of them feeling like hundreds of pages of foreshadowing.

I am half way through Wool omnibus. The conclusion of the first book/story caught me by surprise, which doesn't happen often. If I reviewed the book on the first story only, I would give it a 5 hands down. The later books do slow down, so we will see how this concludes before I decide on my final review. Does it deserve its high average... I don't know.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2013 9:09:37 AM PDT
Josh Gribble said: "I still find the reviews for this book rather intriguing and wonder about the elements that came together to generate such a high percentage of readers writing reviews and such high ones at that. This is by no means a criticism, just genuine curiosity."

Hey, Josh, I'm happy to give you my personal theories. I'm also stunned by the reviews. I can name a few hundred books that I enjoyed more, and none of them have this distribution of reviews. It has led to much head-scratching, as I haven't seen this on any of my other works. I think three factors come into play (this is going to be a bit long, but I may repurpose this for a blog post, and I haven't set this down in any one place before, so I'll be working some of it out as I write).

1) I believe the uneven pacing of the book actually helps it. This is something I tried to explain to my publisher, Simon & Schuster. We were having a sales meeting (twenty or so people sitting around a board room table, including my editor, my publicist, and the head of the entire publishing house), and someone mentioned that they've never seen this much excitement across so many sales reps. And I explained the following: Some people love the first two stories and tolerate the rest of the Omnibus. Some people feel the first two stories drag and love the last three parts. Both groups of people forgive the book's weaknesses more than they would if the book was consistent.

I think. This is a theory derived from the reviews (I read them all, as I promised I would. See the next point). A lot of reviews praise one half of the book over the other. I think there's something for everyone to like. Justin Cronin's THE PASSAGE is similar in this regard. Of the three theories, however, this one is my weakest.

2) As I wrapped up the fifth book, I felt like the epilogue came too quickly. I didn't want it to follow the last chapter. I needed something in-between. Just going on my gut, I inserted a quick Q&A wherein I made up some questions and answered them (I cop to this with the final question, which is: "Did you write these questions yourself? A: Yes").

The purpose of the Q&A was simply to take the reader OUT of the story for a moment. I wanted them to get a little upset (sorry) that I had left one group of characters hanging, that I didn't wrap up their predicament. While they are thinking how evil I am or how much I suck as a writer, they are getting to see my personality in the Q&A. I wrote it straight out without editing the thing. I treated it like a real interview. And then, following the model of a snippet of film after the credits, I give them what they are pining for, which is a scene of Solo and the kids. After that, I close the book with zero acknowledgements or credits. It makes for a satisfying emotional roller coaster (I think).

What does this have to do with reviews? Well, one of the questions in the Q&A is something to the effect of: "I really loved this book. How can I tell others about it?" My answer was, paraphrasing: "Tell your friends and family or write a review on Amazon. I read each and every one of them. It means a lot to authors, so review everything you read!"

I didn't ask for a good review. And this shows up at the very end of the book, so I can assume that people have read the entire thing. And this is why I think so many first-time reviewers write a quick and dirty review. I had no idea when I wrote that Q&A that so many people (over half a million to date) would read the dang book! My hope is that a lot of readers will grow comfortable writing reviews and leaving feedback and do this for future reads and authors. It's important for both authors and readers to have a high rate of reviews for the system to work. Still, with 500,000 purchases and less than 5,000 reviews, that's not a very high percentage.

3) I make myself very available to readers. I do it because I love it. I've always wanted a readership, and so I feel incredibly lucky right now. I post videos on my blog. I have a great time with readers on Facebook. I do reader Meet-Ups as I travel the world and just hang out with whoever shows up to them. I don't do this for any other reason than I enjoy it (writing is otherwise incredibly lonely). But one of the things I think this leads to is a very rabid fanbase. They see how much I love discovering a new review on a blog, and I think this encourages them to write their own. I don't ask for them. Only in that Q&A, which was quite accidental.

I hope that helps the discussion. There was never a plan or a scheme to get reviews. I have asked friends and family not to review my works, because I feel that would be unfair. This is just my theory on why it has happened.

I will add, though I'm uncomfortable saying so, that the book has had an uncommon response from publishers. Random House in the UK said they've never seen so many people in the company go crazy over a book before. People were stealing copies -- people who didn't have to read the book for work. That doesn't happen often. Foreign publishers have had the same response. And we had a bidding war for the film rights. A lot of big names and huge companies were calling me and trying to talk me into going with them. For whatever reason, a lot of people like the work. That doesn't mean everyone does. And I'm sure that makes it confusing for the people who don't. Personally, I hated the third Christopher Nolan Batman film. Hated it. Everyone else in the theater applauded during the credits. I just chalked it up to me being out of synch with the crowd. But it still confuses me.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2013 11:43:05 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 5, 2013 11:45:24 AM PDT
Sandy says:
Carl V. Anderson - I don't think it's silly to be skeptical about the legitimacy of any reviews for a book or any product for that matter receiving a startling number of perfect stars. While I don't doubt that there is a large group of legitimate reviews from people like you who really enjoyed the book, I've run into many instances of overly inflated reviews done by fake accounts, etc. which is why I was initially skeptical. I'm glad that many have enjoyed the book and I'm glad to have read it, even though I decided for myself that it didn't live up to the hype. Either way at least it is our honest opinions and at the end of the day even though I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped, I have to give the author props for succeeding as much as he has.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2013 11:44:01 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 5, 2013 11:44:31 AM PDT]

Posted on Apr 12, 2013 8:03:47 AM PDT
Janyaa says:
Just wanted to verify that I'm a real person who read this book of her own volition and was so inspired (and loved the story so much) that I decided to write a fair and unbiased review. No one paid me or coerced me. If you did any research at all, you'd discover that Hugh Howey is very interactive with his readers. He's talented, humble, accessible and obviously cares very deeply about his craft and his readers. I think, you would not find it so hard to believe that he's managed to amass a huge following of devoted fans.

One 5-star reviewer

Posted on Nov 3, 2013 1:21:12 PM PST
Charles says:
I liked the book. I loved the concept. The characters are interesting. It is definitely (mostly) a great read if you ignore the glitches and the omnibus is worth 5x what you pay for it. The author is a great guy and i hope he has continued success. But this book will never be considered a classic even simply a sci fi classic.
The reason is the series seems to have been put together with writers tools. A LOT of the characters decisions are bizarrely illogical (the investigation of a certain death was.. loopy for one). Characters introspect for days over every little emotion.. this is the part that makes me think it was built in writing software. A character could be about to fall off a cliff and they would... spend a chapter musing over their emotions about what jack said to jill and why people dont refill the watercooler... it gets bizarre.

The thing is the writer has imagined the world so thoroughly, it is such a vivid reality he has created that we forgive this. Simply put i think he needed a professional editor.. or if he has one he needs to fire them.. and this series could have been the next got. But sadly theres just too much illogic and too much illogical soap opera in it.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 11, 2013 8:38:44 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Dec 3, 2013 11:44:24 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 11, 2013 8:49:09 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 11, 2013 8:50:45 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2013 8:10:36 PM PST
Jeremy Bell says:
I agree with Charles. I initially rated it a 5 star because the silo world was very intriguing and held a lot of promise. The first two books are incredible. The protagonists are real and fragile (and die). The story makes you believe you know what's going on and then hits you with a sucker punch at the last second. I was completely riveted and became a fan boy.

I lowered my rating to a 4, because the writing and the story fell apart in books 4 and 5. The story reaches the "main" protagonist and then that protagonist basically becomes a cliched "die hard" invincible hero. Then the situations become completely unbelievable. The part where the hero dives hundreds of feet under water for several hours to fix a pump that is completely unnecessary was outlandish and bazaar. It could have been completely cut out and it wouldn't have changed the story at all!

My guess is that the author developed a really good vision of the silo world and the initial few stories over a long period. Then the demand shot through the roof and the rest of the books were semi-rushed and the plot was kind of hacked together.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 9, 2014 6:17:53 PM PST
Totally agree with your premise. The book has not only great reviews but about 10-100x as many reviews as other similar books. Yes the book is above average but is it a timeless sci fi classic? I don't think so.
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Participants:  22
Total posts:  39
Initial post:  Dec 6, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 6, 2014

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