Book Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

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Title:  Soundless

Author: Richelle Mead

Genre: Fairy-tale, Folklore

Series?  Stand-alone

POV: First person, present tense, one narrator.

Cliffhanger?  Nope!

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

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About the Book (from Goodreads)
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…

My Thoughts
I don’t know how to describe the fabulousness of this book!  I have been trying to write this review all morning, and I’m not sure where to start!

I went into this book both excitedly and nervously.  I have never read anything by this author, and I still have no intention go back and read her other books.  They just don’t sound interesting to me.  The day I picked Soundless up from the library, I had seen several negative reviews for it. This made me hesitant, but really, who can say no to the promise of Chinese folklore and that gorgeous cover?  I’m glad I read it.  It was sooooo worth it!

Don’t go into this book expecting an epic fantasy either.  It is nothing of the sort.  I’d say it has a very fairy-tale feel to it.  It does claim to be based in Chinese folklore after all.  And it is more than just the names that distinguish this book as Chinese.  I may have missed it before I took my Chinese language class, but the whole book had an underlying Chinese feel to it.  It’s not very obvious, but it’s there.  And the food they ate was very Chinese.  Not necessarily what we Americans think when we go to a Chinese restaurant, but Chinese all the same.  I mean, they were picking persimmons off trees!! I wish a persimmon tree would grow where I live!

Soundless is about a village where everyone has lost their hearing.  Fei, our main character, regains her hearing one night.  It scares her, and she does not know how to live with hearing.  I can’t image living without hearing, and Fei is struggling to figure out life with hearing.  It made me stop and think so many times.  As I write this, I can hear my sister downstairs in the kitchen.  I would not be able to know she was in the kitchen or hear her coming upstairs without my hearing!  This book made me rethink an entire sense that I usually take for granted.

Because the village cannot hear, there is no dialogue in Soundless.  Not to worry though, the villagers communicate through sign language.  How cool is that?!  An entire book where people communicate with sign language!  The writing is beautiful.  It allows you to feel the story.  After the first chapter, I was amazed at how each sentence is packed with emotion.  It’s just beautiful!  And sometimes heartbreaking.

I have seen some reviews complaining about the love interest.  I’ll admit, Fei and Li Wei’s relationship is sweet, but not swoon worthy.  That is because the love they share is not the point of the book.  The relationship that really drives Fei is the one she has with her sister Zhang Jing.  There are not enough young adult books that focus on close sibling relationships.  And I think they are beautiful.

I don’t know what else to say except – GO READ IT!!!

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Content: No language. Some kissing and one shirtless scene (she was going to wash the guy’s shirt and can’t help but notice how hansom he is rolls eyes). Very mild violence – it is there but nothing is really described.

I couldn’t help but see parallels in the story to Christianity.  It was probably not intended, and I can’t say much without giving the story away.  There was this beautiful scene where people cry out, and some people get discouraged because they don’t believe that it will do anything, but something does happen to help the villagers.  Ugh, did I just say too much?  I don’t know, but why are you still here anyway – Go read the book!!

My Not Book Review

This is not really a book review, but rather my gushings about the book I just read.
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Monday evening, I bawled through the last pages of Between Shades of Gray.  This is  not to be confused with 50 Shades of Grey.  The latter book I have never read, and never will.  Between Shades of Gray was published first, and, in my opinion, should be more popular.  After reading this book, I found on the author’s facebook page that it is being turned into a movie.  The movie will be titled Ashes in the Snow.  Most likely the title was changed to avoid confusion.  A movie cannot possibly do this book justice, but I’m excited anyway.  And hey!  Movies are basically two hour trailers for the book, right?

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Ruta Sepetys was inspired to write Between Shades of Gray when she was researching her Lithuanian heritage.  During World War II, the Soviets had deported people from Lithuania to work camps in Siberia.

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It is one of the saddest books I have read in a long time, but also one of the most hopeful.  I think that was something that made this book stand out.  Lina, the main character, could find hope even in the darkest circumstances.

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I am not one to write in my books, or mark quotes.  Perhaps this is because I borrow so many of my books from the library.  And Between Shades of Gray is a library book.  I wish it wasn’t.  I wish it was mine and I could write in it!  Instead I resorted to post-it notes.

07606abf82818b1ca57b2d689b790dabThe writing style is just beautiful.  I wish I could write like that!  I was trying to pay attention to why I loved the writing so much.  Maybe I could learn from it.  Ruta Sepetys writes very lyrical.  While I find that I don’t care for books in verse, I do like lyrical writing styles.  Sometimes I try to write like this, but it ends up being too overbearingly descriptive.

Ruta Sepetys had balanced writing.  Not too lyrical, not too simple. Just a perfect blend of both.  I was struck by this on page 124 with the quote, “Blisters wept on my hands.  Our fingers were caked with dirt.”  The first sentence personifies the blisters on her hands.  Lyrical.  The second sentence simply states the condition of the dirt on her hands.  Now, if I were writing, I would have tried to make the second sentence lyrical as well.  But that is not really necessary.  The story needs a balance of both to keep the writing from being too lyrical or too simplistic.  Perhaps this is not the best example in the book, but this is when I realized it.

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The story told here is not an easy one to read.  There were times, especially when I was reading before bed, that I wanted to read something else, and not focus on the hardships these people had to endure.  But it is also a hopeful story.  It is a story about standing together and supporting each other.  Strangers came together to help one another survive the Siberian winter.  I think that is just beautiful.

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Because of the subject matter, I’d only recommend this book to older or mature readers.  The harsh conditions the characters are forced to live in are not easy to stomach.  Other content includes b st rd used less than 5 times.  Brief mention of prostitution and brief mention of alcohol consumption and drunkenness.