Book: Soundless by Richelle Mead
Published November 2015 by Razorbill|266 pages
Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library
Genre: YA Fantasy
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.
I was really intrigued by Soundless, because not only is it a fantsasy inspired by Chinese mythology, but it’s a village comprised of people who cannot hear. Unfortunately, Soundless was really lackluster, and I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. Actually, I didn’t like it at all.
First of all, this book is a stand-alone, and I don’t know that fantasy works very well as a stand-alone. It’s just, how do you give enough world-building to make the world feel real, while also keeping the story contained to one book? It seems like something that’s very hard to balance and do well, and things were really vague and pretty much happened because they needed to happen with no real explanation.
As for Fei’s village…I was intrigued by the fact that they couldn’t hear, but it didn’t work for me. It came across as them being telepathic, rather than signing to each other, and I actually forgot that they couldn’t hear until signing was mentioned. I don’t know if it’s something that doesn’t come across well in print, or if maybe it can be done well in print, but not with how Mead did it in this book, but it really came across as mental telepathy. I did like how some of their signs were different than signs in a couple of near-by villages, and I wish we got more of that. And back to the vagueness of world-building, I thought why they had issues with hearing and, for some, seeing, was interesting, but could have been a lot more interesting with more background.
And…I didn’t really get the sense that the book was steeped in Chinese mythology. Granted, I know nothing about about Chinese mythology and folklore, so maybe that’s why I didn’t get the connection to Chinese mythology. But at the same time, I felt like, if you changed the character names, Fei’s village could have been on any mountain on any continent. It seemed like the names were the only part of the book that were Chinese.
Overall, I really wanted to like the story, but I couldn’t. Which is a little disappointing, because her Vampire Academy series was a lot of fun too read, and the concept is such a cool idea. Maybe Soundless would have worked better as a series, instead of trying to fit everything into one book.
1 star. Soundless fell really flat for me, and it could have been really interesting, but unfortunately, it had a lot of things working against it.