SoundlessBy Richelle Mead
YA Fantasy
3 of 5 stars

I wanted to read this book for months before it finally came in at my library. The cover art! The setting! The protagonist! It seemed like a real winner. I wasn’t previously a fan of Mead’s books (think Vampire Academy) but a story based on Chinese folklore instantly grabbed my attention. Turns out that much like old fairy tales, it’s hard to connect with these characters emotionally, which isn’t a problem when a story is 10 pages long, but becomes a little more awkward when it’s 250 pages. Although Fei undergoes an incredible amount of changes and adventure, I felt distant from it all, as if I was watching her through a paper screen.

Fei lives in a small village at the top of a mountain. A long time ago the passes were blocked by an avalanche, so her people depend on a zipline system with a town below to receive supplies. They get a meager amount of food in exchange for the precious metals they mine. Everyone in her village is born deaf—their ancestors lost their hearing centuries ago—but now they are starting to go blind as well. As fewer people can mine, they receive less food. Fei and Li Wei decide enough is enough: they are going down the mountain to get more food and find a way to help their village. This is only possible because Fei has mysteriously regained her hearing.

I loved the setting and Fei’s descriptions as she tries to describe what it’s like to hear for the first time. This is probably the strength of the book. Characters rarely have a sensorial disability, and the depiction of the village’s sign language and Fei’s subsequent ingenious ways to communicate throughout the book are interesting. Prejudice comes into play, as well as caste hierarchy. The culture is  vibrant and the pacing is good—I just wish I felt closer to the characters while everything was happening. It’s hard to say more without spoilers, but pick this up with you want something different.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Soundless is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • The Brothers Grimm 101 Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm – This has a close match in tone and plenty of magical tales that wrap up in a similar manner. Although these come from Europe, the gist remains the same. If you like the interesting but distant tone of Soundless, you’ll like these. See my review here.
  • Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman – A combination of traditional Chinese culture and the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe. Eon is struggling to be chosen as a Dragoneye apprentice—bonding with one of the twelve zodiacal dragons to keep order in the empire. But Eon is secretly Eona, hiding her true gender because women are prohibited to be Dragoneyes. If her secret is discovered, she’ll be killed. See my review here.
  • Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – Meira just wants to help restore the fallen kingdom of Winter, but she has no idea what her true destiny is. Fast-paced, interesting world-building, and a traditional character arc, but still fun. See my review here.
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – A rich tapestry of culture and characters, this re-telling of the 1001 Arabian Nights is fantastic! If you love visiting less common settings in fantasy or you love fairy tale retellings, add this to your list. See my review here.
  • The Young Elites by Marie Lu – An Italian-inspired fantasy world of powerful children given markings and powers if they survive a deadly blood fever. Addictive and engrossing with amazing characters. This is a bigger departure from Soundless but deals with the same theme of understanding new gifts and how it changes your life and world. See my review here.
  • Risuko by David Kudler – Risuko is a young peasant girl in feudal Japan who just wants to climb. But when a noblewoman notices her talents, she is recruited into an organization because she could become “a very special kind of woman.” One that can save her country. See my review here.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kiwi Reads
    Jan 05, 2016 @ 11:40:38

    I’ve seen less than thrilling reviews for this one, which makes me really sad because it’s richelle mead and i think she’s AWESOME. great review! I’m definitely pushing soundless back on my TBR list



  2. Trackback: Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale | To Live a Thousand Lives
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