Howey peppers his story with ideas about population control, genocide, and war in general, among other things.
A big fan of the rain, I love the storms in Palan. I'd say Howey grew as a writer, between his first book in the Molly Fyde series and the first Wool book. Not sure he grew as a storyteller, because the story he spins in Molly Fyde is quite good.
My favorite character in Book 1 is the Drenard, Alyna. My favorite quote is:
She scratched his arm and pressed her lips into a flat line. "Have you seen the girl in Albert's ship?"
"The Drenard? Absolutely. Extremely fragile, in my estimation."
"She's a slave, Edison."
"I concur. Liberated organisms do not decorate themselves in chains."
With all the metal, plasma, mechanics, and mathematical equations, this is definitely an out-of-my-comfort-zone-read, but if the idea of a girl and her space ship sounds good to you, I highly recommend it.