Wednesday, December 16, 2015

#Wednesday Review - Soundless by Richelle Mead (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

From Richelle Mead, the #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, comes a breathtaking new fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore. 

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom. 

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever..


Soundless, by Richelle Mead, is a standalone novel about a girl named Fei who lives in a village at the top of a mountain where nobody can hear. It is a place where the villagers use sign language to communicate, and artists paint the days events on canvases so that the villagers can keep current with events that effect them. The village is separated into three faction; artists, suppliers, and miners. Please don't ask me why there are no doctors, for there is no answer to that question. Fei's village trades silver from the mine with the township that sends food via a zip line. It's not exactly a fair trade, but it's the only way to survive.

After discovering that her sister Zhang Jing (also an artist apprentice) is going blind, and her once savior Lie Wei's miner father dies in an accident after also going blind, Fei and Wei climb down the mountain to try to barter for more food. But, that isn't until after Fei mysteriously gets her hearing back that things get interesting. When her hearing comes back, she tries to research what happened to her, but with no clear answers. No worries. That answer is resolved by the end of the book and it does make sense if you allow your imagination some leeway to understand the nuisances behind it. 

Thanks to Fei's hearing, Fei and Lie Wei reach the bottom of the bottom of the mountain to find an entirely different world where everything is brighter, more dangerous, and food is more than plentiful than they've ever seen. They discover that they aren't the only one's who have experience similar loss. But, that is the easy part. The hard part is trying to return to the village, and explain to the elders why one of their best and brightest went off on her own, and why King Jianjun of Beiguo hates the hearing impaired so much.

Let's talk about the romance that has gotten a bit of buzz. I know people will talk about Fei's supposed betrothed to a fellow artist. I know they will hiss and holler about how easy Fei and Lie fall in line. But, let's cut thru the crap. Fei and Lie have been friends ever since they were kids. She's always had feelings for him but has been told that since they are different castes, they can't together. So, yes, I fully accept the romance between the two without hesitation.

Negatives: Sorry to say there are a few areas that I really had issues with. The first being the utter lack of world building. We are thrown right into the story without understanding anything about the location of this village, or whether or not this was based on some Chinese mythology with flying dragons called Pixiu who once protected the village before leaving. 

There is talk about this evil King Jianjun from Beiguo but we really don't have a deep understanding about why he hates the hearing impaired so much, or why he is afraid of those like Fei who end up getting their hearing returned to them. 

I have no real problems with Fei. I think she is an honorable character who would do anything to protect her sister, and does just that. She goes out of character in order to discover a whole new world, and then ends up being a key player in the attempt to save her village from complete destruction. I do think the ending is fairly predictable. If you truly pay attention to the hints, you know that something stunning will happen to save the village from the evil minions.

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