Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publication date: November 10, 2015
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...
A fantasy with a Chinese-inspired setting? An isolated village high up in the mountains, full of deaf people? A heroine who regains her hearing back and aims to use it to make a difference? WOW, BADUM-TSS!
On a perfect, ideal day, this would have been an absolutely great treat. Just from these few sentences, we can already feel the diversity of the premise!
But, alas, it is not a perfect and ideal day, because this book is boring and dull as hell. But hey, there’s one thing positive from this: I’m done with it! Yay!
First of all, let me just say that I’ve read the first book of Vampire Academy and I’ve read her GAME OF X series which I absolutely, absolutely adore (to the moon and back). I’ve seen what Mead can do with her books: make a teenage voice very unique, authentic, and dynamic (like Rose), make scenes full of urgency and tension (like Game of X), and make settings that are full of life, history, and character (once again, like Game of X). This is why I am so flabbergasted with Soundless, because this book has NONE of the things above, even when the author is well-capable of writing them excellently. Throughout reading, all I can think of was, “Really? Mead wrote this? The one who brought Rose, Dimitri (however awful his movie actor is), May and Justin to life?!”
1. Flat heroine – if you’re hoping to look for rootable, dynamic, and vibrant heroine here, I’m warning you now that you may end up getting disappointed. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t need a feisty heroine inmy stories, but good lord, I at least require them to have some personality in their bones. At first glance, you’d think that Fei would be intriguing – like her fellow villagers, she is deaf and she uses sign language to communicate, but she can draw and paint a mean portrait/picture. Her job as an artisan is to draw the “news” every day – what do the radishes look like today? Are there many people suffering and giving in to sickness? She and her fellow artists will draw that shit up. Like I said, intriguing, yes? However, for me, Fei is as interesting as watching paint dry. She goes on really, really long monologues about what she is seeing and observing and feeling and you’d think, “Oh this must be so poetic and life-changing!” But nope. BORING. BORING. BORING. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORING. She has absolutely 0% personality. She doesn’t make me feel like I could root for her anything. The most she made me feel while I was reading was a jump on the bed, because I fell asleep while reading and my Kindle hit my face.
My poor fucking face.x
2. NON-EXISTENT WORLD-BUILDING – Do not be fooled by the promised Chinese folklore or mythology or whatever bull the premise tells you because this aspect was non-existent. I was waiting for the world to be expounded and built-up, but that did not happen. We only get characters with Chinese names (we don’t even know what their Chinese names mean… usually Chinese characters have their own literal meanings that when combined can turn up something ridiculous or poetic, and let’s just say Soundless forgot about that part), with a Chinese-sounding city nearby and then that’s that.
World-building. Chinese-inspired. Yeah-fucking-right.
This was a half-assed book with a half-assed “Chinese-inspired” setting. We don’t even know how their village came to be, or how they came upon this sort of “trade relationship” with the people down below. We hear about this sorta EVIIIIIL emperor who we only get to know in very short passing. We don’t know who he really is, what his role is in the grander scheme of things in connection with the heroine’s village, how his fucking empire operates, or even just a tiny bit of history of his bloody dynasty. NONE! NONE! NOOOONE! We don’t even know what their fucking metals are for and why they are so coveted. Then all of a sudden, we get two or three paragraphs explaining this mythological creature called the Pixius textbook-style and then they save the day and everything’s done.
On an ideal day, I would have gone, “Wha—? WHAT THE FUCK?! WHAT’S HAPPENING!? WHY ARE THERE MYSTERIOUS THINGIES COMING IN A DEUS EX MACHINA MANNER?! WHY IS EVERYTHING SO FUCKING VAGUE?!?!?!?!?!” But it wasn’t an ideal day, and I was just so bloody booooooored to even care.
Oh, my god. Fail. Just utterly fail.
3. Shallow plot – Don’t go into this book expecting to be wow-ed by its premise and its cultural aspects (lol) or by its story in general because even for a fantasy, this is shallow. It has a story (or conspiracy?) that I bet you’ve seen before.I can work with predictability, sure – it’s hard to find a truly original idea nowadays, and oftentimes, I rely on execution to make up for it. But this one was SO FUCKING PREDICTABLE that it made me feel like I was reading some sort of adventure book for 8 year olds. By the time I reached 1/4 of the book, I already knew which direction it was going, and since it was already boring as hell, it made the ride so much more excruciating.
I still get shivers from thinking about it guys. Predictability + flat heroine + non-existent and half-assed world-building = 1-fucking star.