Book Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead
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 super excited when I got Richelle Mead’s new book, Soundless, in my November Owl Crate box. The wait list for the library’s copies was several people deep and I didn’t think I’d get to read it until after the New Year. But here was my very own copy! Yay! Richelle Mead is a big name in the young adult novel arena. Her Vampire Academy series is pretty much on everyone’s list. I believe Soundless is her first standalone novel. I haven’t read any of Richelle Mead’s other books, as I tend to avoid big series. I don’t have the patience. But I was curious enough about her writing to delve into a standalone novel.
I was fairly disappointed. I know Mead was trying to showcase her characters’ Chinese-ness (cringe) by making them reserved and formal but it just serves to make her characters uninteresting and without spirit. Her use of Chinese culture and myth is superficial at best. Soundless could have been set anywhere, with any mythical creature as the focus. I was particularly thrown by the walled city at the base of the mountain Fei and Li Wei arrive at. Nothing about it made me think ‘China’. The world and all the characters were dull and without appeal. There is a heavy dose of “special snowflake syndrome” with the main heroine and kind of a cop out ending with magical creatures saving the day.
I think Soundless would have been better if Mead hadn’t gone for a Chinese angle. It really doesn’t lend anything to the book and if she had made her characters livelier, I think this would have been better received. That being said, I did like the plot. The events were interesting and unique. The premise is fantastic. It was fairly obvious why the villagers were losing their senses, so no surprise there, and it could be a bit slow in places. Soundless by Richelle Mead had so much potential but lacked character support and ended up being a little vague and insubstantial. As it stands, Soundless seems like a first draft rather than a complete work. A longer, more detailed book would have been better and there was definitely room to put more in.