Wool by Hugh Howey, is what I consider to be a dystopia. It involves a huge number of people who have been living in a (mostly) underground silo for as long as anyone can remember. There are more than 100 levels, and many are filled with families. There are large cafeterias, a sheriff’s office, a nursery, schools, shops, and more. The lower parts of the silo have gardens and mechanical areas that keep the place running.
The people who live in the underground silo absolutely do not want to go outside. They have been taught that the outside is toxic (which seems to be the truth). Sometimes, however, there will be someone who insists that they want to go outside. They end up in the sheriff’s office, in a cell, as they await their doom.
Wanting to go outside is considered a form of treason (for lack of a better word.)
Those unfortunate few are held in the cell until it is time for them to get what they asked for – to go outside. The Sheriff’s office (which is ground level) has an area where the person is helped into what amounts to a space-suit like outfit. The inner door of this “room” is closed as the outer door opens.
The person is expected to do a cleaning – which means wiping off the dust and debris that has gathered on the upper windows of the silo. Some insist they will not do a cleaning – but everyone seems to do it anyway. They use wool to scrub the windows clean.
The person who has now gone outside is looking through a visor on their helmet. It makes the outside world look absolutely beautiful. Bright blue sky, green grass, this sort of thing. After cleaning, the person usually will take a walk – thinking they are in a beautiful place.
Not long after that, the space-suit starts malfunctioning. The person starts to asphyxiate from their own Co2 levels that they breathed out. They typically fall over when they reach what they thought was a green hill, which, after they take off their helmet, realize the land is brown and scorched.
Somewhere in the silo, underground, is an IT department. The man in charge is disagreeable and does a number of despicable things to other people. I’ll leave you to find that out when you read the book.
There’s also a woman who works in mechanical. She is on a list of three people that could become the next sheriff. It takes some convincing for her to accept the position. What eventually happens next is unexpected. She goes outside.
Thanks to some help from her friends, she is able to walk farther than anyone else has. Which leads not only this character, but also the reader, to understand more about the world these people live in (and who has been controlling it). This leads to changes – for the better- in the silo she came from.