Welcome back! First, as it is officially December and I have the thought to make a note about it, I wanted to update my NaNoWriMo progress. I failed. Epically. I didn't have anything ready when I decided to participate a couple days before the start which was a red flag but still I hoped something would come. I didn't write more than 900 words through most of the month other priorities taking precedence and such. Then with two days left in NaNoWriMo I get inspired and spend a day writing out my thoughts and get almost 7K words. Not the goal of 50K but still I was proud with that and as it has given me an idea to go forward I want to take it.
Now onto another charming review for a book I was eagerly anticipating since I knew of it's existence in the world. Soundless by Richelle Mead. Her stand-alone fantasy story and first thing post finishing up the Bloodlines/Vampire Academy worlds, for the time being anyways.
Rating: 4 Stars
Soundless takes place in a mountain village where sound does not exist. No one has been able to hear for generations but they have adapted. Still living up on the mountain they are unable to sustain themselves and rely on the mercy of the zipline that brings food up as they send metals down the treacherous cliffs. Things have been getting tighter with each passing day as the food sent up lessens and villagers start to lose their sight our main character Fei and her people are in a bit of a crisis. All looks bleak until one night Fei is woken to a noise she doesn't understand. Hearing has returned to her and while she tries to make sense of it she can use it to try and save her people. She sets off down the suicide climb down the mountain with an old friend with one mission to save her people. There are many challenges along the journey including old feelings that continue to press forward even if they are forbidden.
I didn't know much about the story before going in. I just knew it was a stand-alone which made me happy and nervous as it was so short. I really enjoyed the story and the way it was told. I was unsure how there would be much conversation given no sound but of course the characters have lived with this forever so they sign. Duh. They have adjusted their lives made adjustments to communicate which are pretty interesting, signing and just the everyday life and how they function without sound was interesting. It's frightening as well to think that anyone could just startle you from behind, anything could happen without warning. It made me realize how much I take for granted being able to hear. The system they have set up between the classes, artists and miners, was interesting. Documenting life as it happened seemed a more coveted and powerful position than those who worked for the metals the brought food to the village. It's a class system many can understand and throughout history makes no sense logistically.
Fei is an artists. She and her sister are provided for and living the better life, even if it meant giving up something to obtain. All is going okay until her sister starts to lose her vision like the others throughout the village. With so little food being sent up, if you don't do your duty you don't eat. This is hard for Fei to face, her sister headed in such a position. With her new found ability and after talking to her old friend Li Wei they decide to try and make it down the mountain and speak to the keeper of the line who sends them food and make a case for more. The journey is not easy but it didn't drag. Fei is still adapting to new sounds and understanding their meaning while Li Wei continues to get under her skin as they talk about everything from their past to the very present danger and lack of a real plan. They uncover terrible truths along the way that leave them unsure of much and in constant danger.
I really enjoyed the story and it flew by for me. I read it quickly and don't remember ever hitting a dull moment, which considering everything is told without spoken conversations I would sometimes forget that as the conversations seemed to flow naturally, and for them it would be. Their interactions with one another warmed my heart. I could feel my heart break for the situation they were in and caught between wanting several outcomes all at once. The characters and the story were interesting for me and I would recommend it to anyone based on that alone.
Now for the things that got me a bit. I didn't feel much of the Chinese or folklore aspects in the story. There wasn't much of the Chinese influence through the story aside from names, nothing else that happened made me think this story was based in that world. The folklore comes more into play towards the end, as does the fantasy part, the rest, while I enjoyed the story very much personally, didn't show some of the key aspects it promised until the end. I was okay with this again having went in with very little information on it but if you are craving deep Chinese folklore from start to finish you might be disappointed. That's the only thing I think people should know.
Overall I really enjoyed the story and was pleased with my reading. It being a stand-alone is a bit bittersweet for me. I was happy to see it all completed in one novel, everything is pretty much wrapped up but at the same time there was room I feel to tell more story if Mead ever chooses to do so. I'd love to hear more on the pixiu. I'd love to hear your thoughts below as always comments feed my blogging heart!
Until next time…