I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Soundless by Richelle Mead
Also by this author: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice, Bloodlines, Silver Shadows, Vampire Academy, Frostbite, The Ruby Circle, The Glittering Court
Published by Penguin Group USA on November 10th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Love & Romance, People & Places, Asia, Fantasy & Magic
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From Richelle Mead, the #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy andBloodlines, 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....
I was a huge fan of Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series. I also love reading books about diverse characters. So, reading Soundless by Richelle Mead seemed like a no brainer. This book features an Asian girl on the cover and is based on a Chinese legend. I did wrestle with the question of whether this book is cultural appropriation, however, I am not the right person to answer that question. After reading a heavy, long, plodding book I was eager to get my hands on a guaranteed good read and so, I decided to begin Soundless because the majority of the books that I have read by Mead have completely sucked me in.
Fei lives in a village on a mountaintop in Ancient China. In her village, people have essentially three function, they are either artists, servants,or miners. People who do not fall into these categories are beggars. The people are dependent upon the line keeper, who sends a daily shipment of food via the zip line going up the mountain in exchange for metals. In Fei’s village, no one has the ability to hear, not even Fei herself. One night though, Fei has a dream where her people begin crying out. It is then that Fei gains this mysterious ability to hear. I found this fascinating, how she reacts to hearing. Anyways, in addition to being deaf, Fei’s people are beginning to lose their ability to see. And so, Soundless is about Fei’s hero journey down the mountain to save her people and the romance she has along the way. It is a harrowing journey, one that no one in her village’s memory has taken before. This journey will lead Fei to new knowledge and she will become the savior of her people.
Fei is courageous and headstrong. She is brave. She is also a bit impulsive. I loved her dedication to her sister. She is also an artist of extreme skill and talent. It is fascinating to me, seeing her joy at creating things. And even more, her joy and wonderment as she adjusts to experiencing various sounds for the first time. However, Fei is a bit of a boring character in that she does not have a whole lot of vulnerabilities or flaws. She seems almost superhuman and that does not entirely endear her to me. At the same time though, I did like that Fei is fierce without being violent. I liked that she was self sacrificing and all about the truth.
There is a romance between Fei and this boy she grew up with, Li Wei. He is big and brawny because he is a miner. However, he also has this skill with carving flowers and other things. Yet, this skill is never utilized because it is imperative that people in his village mine metals for the line keeper and keep the records for future descendants. Soundless has a romance that is sweet. It is not the fiery all consuming romance of Mead’s prior young adult series but it is adorable. I liked that there was some tension between Fei and Li Wei and that Fei did have to earn Li Wei’s regard.
Mead’s world in Soundless is slightly magical. There aren’t exactly magical powers but there are mythological beings called pixius that play a part. There is not any spoken dialogue in Mead’s book which is an interesting choice, but logical given that the central character’s village does not have the ability to hear. Instead, the people speak using sign language. This is depicted by use of italics. It is also interesting how isolated the village is. As well as the societal structures that arose out of the isolation. I think that the world building in Soundless is decent, but I would have liked more time in this world. It seems like the book and the world within are over much too quickly.
Soundless is a quick read with a fierce main character and a different take on Chinese folklore. Yet, it is a bit lacking in characterization and romance. It is very much a surface book, without being as impressive as what I am used to from Mead. The story is not sprawling. The solution is quite far fetched. Many characters are not used to their full potential. Things are very black and white in this book. It is a quick read and not a bad palate cleanser, but it is not of the caliber that I come to expect from Mead.