Hope you weren't out doing anything to crazy in honor of April Fool's Day!
So for Dystopian Monday, we're going to review Gennifer Albin's Crewel. The book came out almost a year ago, but the sequel's coming up right around the corner. So we figured, why not revisit a Reading Nook classic?
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
So when I read that Crewel was about spinsters who could actually spin time, I knew I was in.
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has always been special. When her parents discover her gift—the ability to weave the very fabric of reality—they train her to hide it. For good reason, they don’t want her to become a Spinster — one of the elite, beautiful, and deadly women who determine what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die.
Thrust into the opulent Western Coventry, Adelice will be tried, tested and tempted as she navigates the deadly politics at play behind its walls. Now caught in a web of lies and forbidden romance, she must unravel the sinister truth behind her own unspeakable power. Her world is hanging by a thread, and Adelice, alone, can decide to save it — or destroy it.
Things that worked:
* The geopolitics in Adelice's world. Albin has obviously put a significant amount of thought into the infrastructure of the world - e.g. the idea that men and women would be segregated to maintain purity standards; the warring between various council members; etc. It's rich, detailed and complex, and extremely interesting to read.
* The complexities of the spinster system. Albin does a good job of explaining the intricate work that the Spinsters do.
* The characterizations. Albin has created a rich world full of intriguing characters, including a LGBT sub-plot which I really appreciated. All of the characters have extremely complex and compelling back stories, and kept the plot moving forward even in the quieter moments.
* The ending. Albin's ending completely comes out of left field, and basically wipes out an and all expectations that the reader had for the story. Even though the ending is very much a cliffhanger, Albin doesn't do it in a annoying "YOU MUST READ THE NEXT BOOK!" sort of way.
Things that didn't work:
* Adelice's temper
I liked the fact that Adelice didn't lack self-confidence like some of the other female protagonists in YA, but I thought her attitude was a little odd, at times.
Why did Adelice go out of her way to deliberately provoke others - especially those in authority - when she already knew that she was on very thin ice, due to her family and her attempts to avoid retrieval? It seemed unnecessary, and made her difficult to like in a lot of the scenes.
* The logistical questions, or the nitty-gritty
I'll be honest - I didn't really think about these details until I read some reviews on Goodreads, because I was just so enthralled with the concept of a person being able to weave time.
But some of the reviewers pointed out that Albin didn't answer some of the most fundamental questions - e.g. how do the spinsters decide when/where to weave things like mountains? Do they just pop up out of nowhere? What about pregnancies? Do babies just appear?
These logistical questions not be an issue for younger readers, but I definitely see it bothering some of the older YA readers out there.
* The romance
Albin's written two very compelling and diverse male love interests, but they just didn't seem to have the necessary chemistry with Adelice. I'm going to chalk this up to Adelice's attitude. She just didn't seem to gel with any of them.
Recommend for: fans of Dan Wells's Partials Sequence and Lauren Oliver's Delirium trilogy.
About the author: (courtesy of Goodreads)
I hold a Masters in English with a specialization in 18th century women's studies. While this is a highly marketable area of expertise, I stay home with my kids, which means my 3 year-old son uses correct grammar and doesn't burn down the house.
I have a ridiculously supportive husband who dreams of being included on a book jacket: "The author lives in Kansas with her husband, two children, and a Tuesday cat."