Friday, January 22, 2016

Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

Title: Soundless
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: 10 November 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

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...
(summary from Goodreads)

Soundless is a slow building mythological story full of wonder.

I really like stories based on folklore. Usually they have a beauty to them that appeals to me. Soundless is one such book. When I say it's slow building, I truly mean it. This book is not in any way fast paced, it just plods along, telling its tale. That's not to say there aren't some heart-racing moments though. There's still a layer of tension that Mead illustrates nicely during moments of danger. What I loved is that Mead captures beauty, art and awe so perfectly with her words. She details a way of seeing the world that is amazing. I adored the language of Soundless. Not simply Mead's prose, but Fei's people's way of communicating, of how Fei learns about sound, and the similarities and differences between the village sign languages. It's truly fascinating. All of Mead's world building is quite enthralling. The village at the top of the mountain, the loss of hearing and now sight, the terrible isolation, the culture and hierarchy of the village, the unknown tyrannical kingdom - I admit all of it made me a little giddy. It's the kind of thing that delights my imagination. My biggest disappointment is I felt Soundless ended too abruptly. The climactic ending felt too little and too quick. It was awesome, but it needed to be fleshed out. All of the world building Mead did earlier was missing at the end. This is what I'd been waiting for, give me more! Plus as a standalone novel there were a number of storylines left unfinished, most especially that of the King and his intentions. I feel let down by that ending.

From word one Fei had me hooked. I connected with the emotion of her story. Her desperation to do the right thing, out of fear of losing her family's standing, but her need to help her sister no matter what, weighs heavy. She shows amazing strength throughout the novel. Fei's relationships are the heart of Soundless. Her love for her sister is inspiring. It's heartbreaking the pain she feels when she thinks she can't save her sister, but she's willing to risk everything to try. Fei's romance with Li suited the story. They have a connection that sparks, yet it's slow and meandering like the narrative. Fei struggles between what she wants and what's the way of the village and this acts as a more personal and emotional parallel to Fei and Li's journey to save their village. It was so frustrating, the villagers unwillingness to change even when it was so obviously and desperately necessary. I wanted to scream a few times! I would have loved to read more of Chen and her father. Chen is sassy and I always like the sassy ones. It felt like there was more to their story, just as there should have been to the book, and so unfortunately that dissatisfied unfinished feeling just won't abait. 

Soundless is an imaginative read; lovely, majestic and subtle, though lacking the perfect ending it deserved. 



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