by Richelle Mead
Published on November 10, 2015 by Razorbill
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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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...
I was so saddened by this book. Not for its content, so to speak, but because Richelle Mead is one of my favorite authors and yet I barely managed to push through Soundless. Where her other worlds stood out and swept me away, I felt distant and bored by this take on Chinese folklore. Between this and her other newer series, Age of X, I’m starting to lose faith in her work. It’s heartbreaking, but I have little to talk about that I enjoyed, so let’s just get on with the rest…
Mead tried to branch out from her other work with Soundless and I appreciate that. It just wasn’t working for me, though.
From the beginning, I was excited to see how the Chinese folklore played a part in the novel. I’m a sucker for all thinks mythological — tales, legends, the works. Yet, there is nothing “Chinese” about Soundless except the naming style. Change that and this story could be set anywhere. There wasn’t a world. There was a mountain. And on that mountain was a village that sent metal to a township at the base of the mountain. Later you learn there is a bit more than that but for the purposes of the story, that’s it. Within this little bubble, there was… well, nothing, really. For a fantasy, I can count on one hand (one finger, more accurately) the amount of fantastical elements I read.
The lack of world-building astonished me the most. I (thought I could) always count on Mead’s work to be amazing, intricate, beautifully built and immersive. After all, her other 22 books I’d read (Gameboard of the Gods excluded) were just that. Instead, I’m left with two many questions and not much care to have them answered.
Soundless was flat-out boring. Cliche romance, static characters, and a story that while intended to fall in the realm of folklore, never captivated me. I felt the bulk of that “folk tale” could be written in a handful of pages and be a million times better. I read the first chapter and immediately put it down in favor of another novel. It wasn’t for almost another month that I picked it up again and I fell asleep reading it.
I never fall asleep while reading except on the rarest occasions.
I know some of my comments are harsh, however I expected more from this author based on her previous work and this book definitely didn’t live up to that. If you enjoyed her other books, don’t expect the same level of attention in Soundless. And if you haven’t read anything by Richelle Mead yet and were thinking about it, don’t judge her work based on this book. It’s not an accurate representation by any means.