Monday, June 15, 2015


by Richelle Mead

Summary From GoodReads

From Richelle Mead, the #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, comes a breathtaking new fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore.

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...

Thoughts on the Book

This was one of my most coveted ARCs from BEA.  Richelle is currently my second favorite YA author (Stephanie Perkins beat her out with the masterpiece that is Isla and the Happily Ever After) and in the top 5 of all-time favorite authors.  The fact that I got to meet her was amazing, especially being on the East Coast, she usually doesn't leave the North West.  I had planned my whole BEA experience around meeting her, luckily she didn't conflict with Scott Westerfeld, that would have been horrid.  But I got the book, got to meet her, and in the process sat in probably the coolest line at BEA.

My Review

I stand by what I told Richelle at BEA - she can't write anything bad (college essays aside, since she thinks some of them weren't so good).  

This is a story about a small village at the top of a mountain in China.  No one in the village can hear, although there are records of when the villagers could hear, and there are stories of how it happened.  Art is cherished above all else in this village, and the main character, Fei is the best artist in the village.  She is destined to live the cushiest life available for the villagers, and is betrothed to the best male artist, Sheng.  There are only two issues with this: her sister Zhang Jing is one of the villagers who is slowly going blind and she is in love with her childhood friend Li Wei, not Shang.  Randomly in the middle of the night in a dream Fei regains her hearing, as she adjusts to this tragedy strikes Li Wei causing the two decide to climb down the mountain for help.

The book was beautifully written, I'm amazed at how Mead was able to capture Fei's reaction to sound, through out the entire book.  Right from when  she woke up from the dream being able to hear until the very end of the book, Fei was constantly adjusting to new sounds.  Her reactions to them seemed so genuine too, marveling at a bird song that distracted her from talking to Li Wei, hearing music for the first time.  Hearing, and being able to always recognize, Li Wei's voice.  Even the imagery of the scenery was incredible.  Since it is written from Fei's perspective the world is viewed with an artist's eye, and she is constantly expressing her desire to capture certain things on a canvas.  Even right at the end all she wants is to capture it in a painting, so she describes the colors and how the shift and blend together beautifully, and she sadly admits that it would be impossible for her to capture.  Her adviser later has to tell her, when trying to paint those colors perfectly, that the best artists have to know when to stop trying to be perfect.

This book was so unlike anything else Mead has written.  All of her other books start with something utterly fantastical.  You meet Rose and her vampire best friend.  Sydney is off protecting vampires, Georgina immediately starts speaking of mortals selling their souls while she's sitting around with another immortal, and you meet Eugenie when she's performing an exorcism.  You meet Fei and she's completely and utterly normal.  Throughout most of the book I was wondering if they mis-classified the book as a fantasy, everything, while amazing, was so ordinary, especially when the cause for the hearing loss was explained.  I loved it though, because when the fantastical element finally appeared it made it that much more amazing.

This book is also different from anything Mead has even written because it's a standalone.  I absolutely loved that this was a standalone, the pacing was perfect for it, the resolution was amazing.  And, if it weren't a standalone I would have invented time travel to go into the future to be able to finish the series, it was that good.  As much as I love series I'll argue that the best books ever written are standalones.  Series tend to draw out insignificant parts, or try to hype up the end, unless, of course, if it's an epic tale that happens to be told in installments and reads like one gigantic book (Lord of the Rings and Song of Ice and Fire to name a couple).  If Soundless was told in a series format it would loose a lot of the magic that it has.  The pacing, as I've said, was perfect, the amount of detail was perfect, you learned just enough about each of the characters to understand them, there was the perfect about of action combined with the perfect amount of explanation.  The book, in short, was perfect.

I give this book an 11/10.  Definitely my favorite Richelle Mead book to date.  I highly highly highly recommend this, and I feel awful for all of you that have to wait until November to read it, but have heart - it's only six months away, it could be worse.

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