Book Reviews

[review] Crewel – Gennifer Albin

11556960Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Macmillan)
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: ARC received from publisher

Enter a tangled world of secrets and intrigue where a girl is in charge of other’s destinies, but not her own.

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.

Tell Me More: One of the very first YA novels I remember reading was a dystopian novel, The Giver. Over the years, I’ve developed a soft spot for similar novels–and therefore always give them a chance–but sadly, Crewel did not live up to my expectations.

On the surface, Adelice’s story appealed to the feminist in me: who wouldn’t love to read a novel about women who used their talents to bring about a better world for everyone? I loved the magical quality of the Spinsters’ work, and I wanted to know just what it would take to control and weave time. I loved the conspiracy and the danger that Adelice would find herself in. All in all, Crewel seemed to be exactly the kind of dystopian novel I was looking for.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t support its premise very well. Adelice’s narration was muted at best, boring at worst. I couldn’t get a clear sense of who she was within the first few chapters, which makes it difficult to go on in a dystopian, since it is particularly important for the reader  to want the protagonist to succeed in their endeavours. If I don’t know who Adelice is, and what she wants out of life, how can I throw my support behind her? How can I be sure that what she tries to do makes sense for her character? Part of the difficulty lies in Albin’s choice to begin the novel in media res–the reader is immediately brought into Adelice’s world in an alarming way, but it feels a lot like entering an empty film set and seeing the lack of a ceiling.

The plot itself is predictable, but again, I say this having read many dystopians. I don’t mind the same kind of setup because I read those books for the characters, which quickly became a problem with Adelice. Because of the lackluster introduction to her character, I couldn’t muster up enough interest to want to see her deal with the usual dystopian problems, not to mention the inevitable love triangle. Neither Jost nor Erik were intriguing enough to make me fall in love with them, and there were times that it felt like this specific plot device was just another checkmark on the Official Dystopian Tropes list. Likewise, the villains never felt all that dangerous or ruthless. The conflict never reached the promised high stakes, and by the last few chapters, I didn’t hate the book, but I was ready to move on.

The Final Say:  Crewel doesn’t quite hold its own as a dystopian novel, but readers new to the genre may still find lots to love about Adelice and her dangerous world.

4906436About Gennifer

Gennifer Albin  holds a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Missouri and founded the tremendously popular blog theconnectedmom.com. She lives in Lenexa, Kansas, with her husband and two children.

Add Crewel on Goodreads | Follow Gennifer on Twitter @genniferalbin | Visit Gennifer’s website

Order Crewel from Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters

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