Published by Razorbill on November 10, 2015
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…
I’ve been hearing amazing things about Richelle Mead’s books for years now, but haven’t picked one up until receiving Soundless at Book Expo America (“BEA”) this past May. Soundless is a stand alone fantasy novel following Fei, a young artist who lives in a Chinese village in which everyone is deaf. No one is entirely sure why the people in Fei’s village lost their hearing several generations ago, but now members of her community are losing their vision as well. This poses a danger for them, because they are stuck at the top of a mountain, and their only chance at survival comes by way of a zipline connecting the village with the township at the bottom. So long as Fei’s village sends down the precious metals they mine, they receive food in return, but the more they lose their vision, the less food they receive. Things are looking bleak until one day Fei’s hearing suddenly returns. She decides to use this new ability to make the dangerous trek down the mountain with her childhood friend Li Wei in hopes of saving her community.
What follows is a short but incredibly well-written account of what Fei and Li Wei discover at the bottom of the mountain, and what, if anything, they can do to save their people. I found Soundless a very unique and refreshing story, and I really liked that I never knew what was going to happen next. I was especially fond of all the characters in Soundless, and felt a bond with them throughout the story. Fei, in particular, is an incredible heroine. She is brave, self-sufficient, and always does what is best for her community over what may fulfill her own selfish needs. Richelle Mead does an excellent job creating a heroine who is realistic, yet still surprisingly strong.
My only critique of Soundless is with the ending. In order to keep this review spoiler-free, I will generally explain my disappointments. The ending for me was a bit of a cop out, because it turned an otherwise contemporary-feeling read into a fantasy one. While I still enjoyed the ending overall, I do wish it flowed better from the rest of the novel. Similarly, I found that everything in Soundless wrapped up a bit too easily. I recognize that this is a middle grade novel, though, so that is understandable.
Overall, Soundless is a great read, and I highly recommend it if you are looking for a unique and diverse story. I appreciate that Soundless is a stand-alone fantasy book, as I tend to avoid fantasy due to the long series that are often involved. That being said, I am definitely looking forward to picking up Richelle Mead’s other books now that I know I enjoy her writing.
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