by Richelle Mead
Summary: In a village without sound…
For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so 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. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation.
One girl hears a call to action…
Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon.
She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever…
And unlocks a power that will save her people.
Source: The book was part of an Owlcrate I purchased
I really enjoyed Soundless, despite being a bit apprehensive about it due to reading some pretty mixed reviews. While I’m a fan of the Vampire Academy series, I’ve never been too fond of the way the author begins books, which was another reason for my apprehension. Fortunately, the book was better than I expected.
Soundless was loosely based on Chinese mythology, but I’m not familiar enough with Chinese mythology to say whether or not it represented it well. In Fei’s village atop a mountain, everyone was deaf. Inhabitants were going blind as well. The villagers were either miners, servants, or artists. Instead of being able to pass along stories orally, the village was aware of their limitations, so they placed a lot of importance on those who could paint and observe in order to keep a record of events so they wouldn’t forget the past. The town mined a rare mineral, sent it down a zip line, and received food as a result from a mysterious person working the line from the bottom. The system worked well, but they were getting less and less food due to mining less because of the rapid spread of blindness.
Fei regained her hearing right around the same time her childhood friend’s father began to go blind. He was upset that his dad kept attempting to mine, causing accidents, and potentially harming himself or other miners, so he craved a solution to what he saw was a major problem that wasn’t being addressed by the village. No one usually survived a climb down the mountain because they couldn’t hear and therefore couldn’t avoid falling rocks. Fei decided she would help her friend confront the line person and find a way to get more food since she could suddenly hear and could use her new sense to assist him. What they discovered once they climbed down changed everything. I was expecting a twist like The Village movie, but that’s not what happened really, so I thought the book was pretty unpredictable.
Soundless wasn’t the best book ever or anything, but I enjoyed the story and liked the characters. I can see why other reviewers mention that the characters were flat, but I liked them and felt that they had strong motivations.
I have seen some reviews that discuss the slight offense to disabilities because Fei “saved” everything by regaining her hearing rather than staying deaf, making it appear that the book doesn’t support heroes having disabilities. I think it just depends on how you view the story. I felt like it made sense and the story never made it sound like it was a bad thing for the villagers to be deaf. The love interest didn’t regain his hearing or anything, so it wasn’t making deafness seem negative. It just made discovering sound for the first time kind of cool.
I definitely recommend Soundless, so long as you are expect the right kind of story. It’s not the next Vampire Academy, but it’s a great story with an interesting plot. I finished it quickly and definitely enjoyed it.