Crewel World #1
by Gennifer Albin
Published on October 15, 2013 by Square Fish
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
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Incapable. Awkward. Artless. That's what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: She wants to fail. Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she's exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. But if controlling what people eat, where they live, and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn't interested.
Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and used her hidden talent for a moment. Now she has one hour to eat her mom's overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister's academy gossip and laugh at her dad's jokes. One hour to pretend everything's okay. And one hour to escape.
Because tonight, they'll come for her.
I’m not sure what I really expected from this book. It was an impulse read: I saw it on the shelf in the library, thought it sounded interesting, and decided to check it out. I’ve been hesitant about my choices of YA dystopian reads, having slowly lost my faith in the genre over the last year or so. While Crewel didn’t quite disappoint like Matched by Ally Condie or Delirium by Lauren Oliver, I wouldn’t say it was a fantastic read either. Crewel follows the story of Adelice Lewys, a girl with the gift of weaving. Time, that is. In this future, certain women skilled at the loom are lifted into the seat of power as a Spinster. Adelice doesn’t want this life like most girls and tries to run, to no avail. Trapped in the Coventry, she must figure out how to win her freedom back before it’s too late.
The surface of Crewel is pretty. Not just the cover, which is eye-appealing, but the concept. Time controlled by weaving, the power to shape the world any way one chooses… Not an idea I’ve seen before, at least in the fashion that Albin presents it in. Here is where the problems starts.
Crewel‘s basic concept was quite original, in my opinion. She wrote it well and revealed her world of Arras in a well-constructed manner. The plot, however, remained predictable at best and dragging at the worst. It bounced around to one thing or the next, trying to cover a multitude of issues while never focusing on one long enough to make it matter to me as a reader. I expected a story where the female population held the power, both “magically” and politically. Instead, I’m treated to a world where genders are segregated and women hold stereotypical roles such as secretary, nurse, teacher, etc. [There’s also the matter of where Arras is actually located, which is quite unnecessary, but I’ll leave that out to avoid spoilers.]
Here is a world where women are oppressed by men…so where are the “oppressed” women?
It’s made quite clear that women have been placed in stereotypical roles while men rule Arras. Yet the people with the actual power, who do all the work and ultimately are needed for this society to run smoothly…are the women. Perhaps I just don’t see why none of them would have ever thought to, I don’t know, disobey their “bosses” and make a stand, considering the men supposedly can’t see the weave of the world. But my issue isn’t with the extremes of the world and this drastic difference between genders, but how it seemed to be more of a means to move the plot forward. That brings in character motivation, or lack thereof.
I think I disliked the characters the most. Not one of them contained the depth and complexity of a good character. Our leading lady, Adelice, was about as interesting as a piece of bad birthday cake — so much potential for goodness on the outside, but severely lacking on the inside. I felt nothing for these characters. They read with no emotion and no dimension. For the entire course of the story, I never connected with Adelice (or any of the cast, for that matter). There was a continuous disconnect, as if I was watching a movie — a really badly cast movie. It’s a shame because Crewel focuses so much on the characters that you can’t avoid them.
I’m not going to go in-depth on the developing love triangle because it was just a mess from the start and by the end, I wanted shoot all three characters. If there had been a little more depth to the writing, I might have appreciated it a bit more, but there wasn’t and I didn’t.
If you want to read a could’ve-been-great novel, take a shot at this one. But if you’re tired of the predictable YA dystopians, leave it on the shelf. The plot’s a mess and the characters are nothing more than cardboard cutouts sitting on the set.