Published by Razorbill on November 10th 2015
Genres: young adult, fantasy
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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...
I expected to hate Soundless, or at least find it mildly irritating. But actually, I quite liked it. No, it’s not perfect. I rarely ever say this, but it was too short. I needed more world-building, more character development. I think Richelle Mead is used to writing series, so maybe she forgot that you need to put it all in one book when it’s a standalone (LOL), but that doesn’t change the fact that it was entertaining, a fast read, and fairly unique, as far as fantasies go.
I think the think that bothered me the most about the world-building was the whole “miner, painter, beggar” thing. I just didn’t understand why what the painters did was so important. Why was there so much value in it? And why did they paint the daily record rather than write it? And why was one painter valued over another? Seems to me if you could paint a decent scene of what went on, that should be enough. So I’m not sure about the whole “choosing between two apprentices” thing either. I just don’t believe there was enough explanation, enough motive, etc. That part of the world-building failed for me.
I remember reading the first book of the Vampire Academy series and being kind of underwhelmed by it. I just didn’t get the hype. I rated that 3 stars. Soundless was somewhere between a 3.5-4 for me. It wasn’t very shippy, and I think maybe Richelle Mead’s readers are used to that, and as a result, expected it from this book too? But I actually liked the romance. I thought there was enough chemistry and a strong foundation to build upon. I would have liked more character development overall, but the romance was decent.
I think the thing that really worked for me was the story. I liked the way it progressed–there was even a sort of slow build–and I find that to be an incredible feat, considering how short the book is. It picks up at just the right time, and from then on, it doesn’t slow down.
The blurb claims that the book is steeped in Chinese folklore. It isn’t. If that’s what you are looking for, you are going to be sorely disappointed. There is some vague semblance of a Chinese setting, and mention of Chinese architecture and decor. That’s about it. I think had I not known this going in, I would have been mad. That’s the main reason I wanted to read it in the first place. But…sometimes reading early reviews pays off, and I lowered my expectations, and actually ended up enjoying it. Had I been one of the first ones to read it, I think I would have still liked it some, but not as much as I do now. Though I know some readers NEVER read reviews ahead of time since they think it will affect their opinion, I don’t feel that way at all. I’m all about saving myself from a trying experience. And I almost passed on this one. But since I requested it from Penguin, I felt bad because I KNEW how difficult it was to get an ARC of this. I didn’t want to blow off my responsibility (sometimes I don’t care, but not this time.), and I’m glad.
That said, I’m not really a huge fan of Mead’s writing. I liked it enough, but it’s average. It’s not special, not vivid, not poetic, and it really doesn’t make me feel the feels. This is the second book of hers that has kind of left me feeling no emotion, and I really love to come out of my books feeling one some kind of emotion–even if it’s anger. I got nothing. I liked it enough, I just didn’t love it to pieces. I may not read her again. It just depends on the topic. I’m hard to impress, what can I say?