Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Soundless by Richelle Mead

In a village without sound…

For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so 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. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation.

One girl hears a call to action…

Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon.

She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever…

And unlocks a power that will save her people.

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Before I started Soundless I knew that there were a lot of mixed reviews, most of them negative so I didn’t have my hopes up but I still wanted to read this book because of the incredible premise:

Fei and everybody in her village are deaf. Nobody knows how it happened or why, but since they live on the top of a mountain and the unstable cliff makes it impossible for them to climb down, they have learned to live with it. Unable to grow food for themselves, the village survives by exchanging food for the metals they mine from the mountain with another town, but with more people going blind the metals they can get are reduced, and so is the food. When Fei wakes up one day and is able to hear she’ll embark on a journey down the mountain to help her people and finally discover why everybody but her can’t hear.

As I said, the premise was fantastic, but the execution was sadly lacking. Instead of hearing one would think Fei can’t see because the descriptions are simply not there. Fei loves flowers and pretty, colorful things and she’ll bang us over the head with how much she wants to paint those things but can’t afford to, leaving the rest of her village completely unattended. What did other people look like? The place she lived and studied at? What about their clothing, make up or hairstyle? There were a few mentions of robes and how poor quality the fabric was because they didn’t get new ones but that’s it. The author had a wonderful opportunity to create a vivid tale based on Chinese folklore and all we got was… a mountain and mentions of arts?

The world building itself left a lot to be desired. There are three kinds of jobs, miners, artists (who record things that happen for posterity) and servants. Why those are the only three jobs available it’s not explained and why the heck are the artists the “elite” and better paid ones baffles me too. Miners are the ones with the biggest responsibility, take metal from the mountain so they can exchange it for food, no metals=no food= no people and yet they are the worst paid ones! They get the smallest amount of food rations, even though they perform the heaviest work! I mean sure, I get that recording for the future generations is important and I’m glad that art is taken seriously and all… but try to feed from those painted scrolls when all the freaking food stops coming because you starved the miners to death! Seriously, it’s dumb and the only reason it was made that way was for it to be “social injustice” in the book.
In fact, Fei is in love with her childhood friend but they can’t be together because artist only marry other artists… why exactly? Oh yeah, so Fei and Li Wei could have a star-crossed romance and defy society in their struggle to be together!!!!

No thank you. I wasn’t a fan of Fei as a main character either. She was always getting speechless or frozen in place by something dumb and saying how badly she wants to do something but can’t.

“Elder Lian comes to a stop beside my sister, and I am frozen where I stand, unable to help her.”

“I want to tell them this is only temporary. . . but I can say and do nothing as the servant escorts her out.”

I’m just not the greatest fan of that, it’s not fun to read about a character wanting to do something but unable because of.. reasons. Moreover, it always seemed like Fei’s problem were always more important than the rest, when she was in fact quite privileged.

“I take a deep breath, still having my own difficulties resigning myself to Zhang Jing’s fate. She is going to become a household servant at the Peacock Court.
He stares at me in confusion and then throws up his arms in disbelief. That is your big decision? To move her to a comfortable, safe job, where she’ll be well fed and face no risks? You actually deliberated about that and think you have anything in common with me or the other miners?”

Really, her sister losing her job as an artist doesn’t sound comparable to losing your life.

As far as the idea of getting your hearing after spending your entire life unable to hear a sound… well the author didn’t do a good job there either. Fei discovers one day she can hear things, or that’s what she suspects, so she goes to the library and reads three scrolls on the matter and she’s suddenly capable of understanding everything and differentiating all kinds of sounds which is impossible. And instead of telling someone she could hear, she keeps it to herself! Why you may ask? I’ve got no freaking idea either, because it added “suspense” to the story having Fei keeping that secret, I guess? I just didn’t care.

The pace of the story was incredibly slow and boring, even when things were happening it was still boring because Fei had to tell us how something looked or how her heart felt (what was it about her heart?? Why did it have separate feelings from her??).

I skimmed to the end and found that nothing really interesting happened except inserting a bit of fantasy into the story, but nothing else.

Overall a pretty boring and unremarkable read. I give it two stars for the wonderful premise but the book itself had nothing interesting new or entertaining.

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