Thursday, November 12, 2015

Review: Soundless

By Richelle Mead
Published: November 10, 2015

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 Beiguo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever....

My review:

Fei is a talented artist in her village where people are ranked by occupation. Fei's parents were miners, a much lower rank but Fei's abilities allowed herself and her sister Zhang Jing to improve their lot in life. Still things are hard in the village where they have to depend on food provided in return for the metals they mine. While people have been unable to hear for generations, now some are starting to lose their sight including Fei's sister. Everything changes when Fei has a strange dream and wakes up with the ability to hear. She decides to accompany her childhood friend Li Wei when he breaks the rules and tries to climb down the mountain to save their people.

Soundless is very different from Richelle Mead's other YA novels. Both Vampire Academy and Bloodlines feature teen characters who are brave (and in Rose's case, brash) and behave older than typical teens most of the time because of their circumstances. The books also feature snarky humor and mildly steamy romance. Soundless however is bland in comparison. It's like expecting pancakes for breakfast and getting oatmeal instead. 

While I felt bad for Fei, I couldn't really connect with her as a heroine. I liked her loyalty to her sister and her courage in climbing down the mountain and trying to help her people. She just isn't a vivid character. Her romantic relationship with Li Wei isn't inspiring either. I did think it was an interesting choice to portray a main character who couldn't hear and what it would be like to suddenly experience sound after a lifetime of silence. She doesn't even have the words to describe it and she obviously can't make sense of things when people talk.

The setting is interesting and has potential. Since people in the village can't hear they record everything by observing and painting what they see. Their way of life is hard but they still survive.  The book has a historical fiction feel though there are some elements of fantasy. Fei's people have myths about creatures called pixiu that used to live on the mountain and according to legend the missing pixiu had something to do with the hearing loss.

I liked this book but it didn't wow me as a fantasy novel. Even without comparing it to Richelle Mead's other works the story doesn't stand out in the genre. Cindy Pon's Silver Phoenix is a much better written fantasy based on Chinese mythology. Still I appreciate that Mead wrote something different and I think young teens who like fairy tales and light fantasy might enjoy it.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of Amazon Vine


  1. I've read on another review that she's hard to connect with. Considering I had a hard time connecting to the characters in Vampire Academy and this is harder, I don't think I will leave this on my TBR. Thanks for the honest review!

  2. Great review, Christina. I wasn't really impressed by the synopsis, even though I really love Mead, so I skipped this one. I think I made the right choice based on your sounds like it has potential, but isn't very compelling. I hope her next series doesn't disappoint. Thanks for the honest review!


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