Soundless by Richelle Mead

Soundless by Richelle MeadSoundless by Richelle Mead
Published by Penguin on November 10th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 272
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From Richelle Mead, the #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, comes a breathtaking new fantasy perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Laini Taylor and Sabaa Tahir.  "Fans of characters like Rose Hathaway and Sydney Sage will flock to this impressive stand-alone novel."--Booklist
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....
From the Hardcover edition.

1 teacup seems so harsh, but I honestly do not have anything good to say about this book. I tried to come up with something redeeming about it, but there is nothing. Mead has always been a bit hit or miss, but Soundless is my least favourite of her books to date.
I mean, firstly, if I dressed up in traditional Chinese clothing for Halloween and started calling myself Ling, I would actually be more Chinese than this book. I cringe every time I read that promotional line: “A breathtaking new fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore”. What exactly is Chinese about this story? If you changed the names from Fei, Li Wei and Chen, this book could be set anywhere.
And frankly, that’s not even close to being the worst of it. This is supposed to be fantasy, but the bland, almost non-existent, world-building reminds me of every other dystopia released over the last few years. Yet another one where an orphan attempts to protect her younger sibling, save her village and bag a hot dude all in one go.
In this village, everyone is deaf and they have been for a long time. They speak in sign language and just try to work enough to be able to eat. Food is scarce and unfairly divided between the three classes of people – artists, suppliers and miners – which all seems a bit sketchy and ill-conceived anyway, but I can’t understand why miners are given the smallest amount of food. It baffles me.
It’s supposed to be part of the horror of this world that these poor miners are starving, but why are they starving? They are obviously a key component to the survival of the village and they have the hardest job to do – so why are they given lower rations? I’ll tell you – because this world had to be UNFAIR and NASTY for the reader. What, it doesn’t make sense? Oh shush your face and enjoy the pointless angst.
Also, I expected a love story, but here it was just dull dull dull. Fei is already crushing hard on Li Wei as soon as the book opens, practically fainting in his presence:

pg.16 “His gaze is so piercing, I feel as though it will knock me over. Or maybe that’s just the earlier dizziness I felt from being near him.”

But all these things just add up to the most terrible thing of all – the book is excruciatingly boring. From Fei’s repeated dreams of chrysanthemums to the journey she finally decides to take with Li Wei (which largely consists of her staring into his eyes), the whole “purpose” behind this story is to discover why the village lost their hearing and ended up as they are now.
And, you know what? Not once did I care what they would discover. Not once did the fate of anyone in this book come to matter to me.
For a good Asian-inspired fantasy, check out Eon: Dragoneye Reborn and Eona: The Last Dragoneye.

One Star

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