Sunday, January 20, 2013

Review: Crewel - Gennifer Albin

Crewel by Gennifer Albin
Series: Crewel World #1
Genre: YA, dystopian, futuristic
Published on October 16, 2012
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 368
Read From: 1.18.13 - 1.19.13

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.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? No. Love all of the swirly colors, but I'm tired of covers that feature girls with parted ruby lips, as if they were drooling over a slice of chocolate cake.

Characters: Our protagonist, Adelice, was an acceptable narrator, but she was just like every other dystopian protagonist out there: causes her own problems by smarting off to the wrong people, helpless, hates being pampered, but also kind of enjoys it, not very good at forming escape plans, and even worse at sneaking around, and randomly flirts with guys she's been nothing but jerky to previously when she wants something. And somehow the dudes never wonder if many she's up to no good. While Erik was proclaimed an arrogant cad oozing charm, I actually failed to see his arrogance, and he didn't really come across as a cad, either. Jost was flat, Enora and Valery were your typical beautician and mentor that all dystopian protagonists simply "must" have, and the villains - Cormac and Maela - were laughable. Cormac was somewhat slimy, but neither of them frightened me in the least. And while Pyrana was a big-time jerk, I didn't have fun hating her. She just made me yawn.

The Romance: I'll admit, the love triangle between Jost, Adelice, and Erik (surprise, surprise!) wasn't the worst ever, but it was still pretty annoying. For one thing, it was painfully obvious which one Adelice was going to fall for the most, and Erik's attraction to Adelice doesn't even make sense. Why does he like her? She's not fascinating, she's not especially smart, her sarcasm isn't even witty, and there are plenty of other pretty Spinsters he could mess around with. His infatuation isn't explained; it's just there. The rivalry between Jost and Erik, I can tell, is going to get annoying in the next book.

Plot: The whole weaving thing was, I'll admit, rather original and interesting. But there was also a major problem with it: It didn't make sense. It's not because the Author didn't explain it very well; I think she explained it as well as she could. It was just a concept that didn't make a whole lot of sense in itself, and I spent the majority of the book with a befuddled expression, then finally give up trying to understand. it. Apart from this weird, but unique, element, Crewel's plotline is just like all of the other dystopian novels flooding the market. A girl is torn from her loving family by an unconvincing controlling government, taken to a ritzy place where she's pampered and powdered and given everything she wants. She then attends fancy parties and relates in detail all of the clothes she wears, while still trying to convince the Reader that she really does hate this new life, falls in love with two guys - one of them whom she initially dislikes for no legitimate reason, - and then attempts several escapes, which are horribly botched because she didn't think it through. Oh yes, and her newfound "love" is what gives her the motivation to do this, even though she's known the guy for like two weeks. That's pretty much the whole of the storyline for Crewel. I can't list the number of dystopian books that I've read in the last year or two that have had the exact same story. It worked in The Hunger Games because it was original, and Suzanne Collins also abandoned the makeover sessions blessedly fast. Katniss was also a character who I genuinely believed didn't enjoy her makeover. Between you and me, I'm tired of reading about bubble baths, chiffon, and mascara. When someone says dystopian, I expect the overthrow of a totalitarian regime, and death! Not an episode of What Not to Wear.

Believability: The Author managed to just skirt the necessity of secret police in this, by making it to where the government could just completely alter peoples' memories and behavior, or they could execute them remotely by ripping a thread from the weave of Arras. I suppose I'll accept this, but the government still didn't scare me. It lacked the quality of menace a dystopian novel needs to be truly good. The Author kept stating all of these horrible things the Guild did, and I agree - it's horrible! But somehow the imagery failed to scare me the way it should have.

Writing Style: Present tense, and we all know how I feel about present tense. I hate it! Crewel was no exception. It worked better than in most books, but I still didn't like it.

Content: What was the purpose of making Enora and Valery gay?

Conclusion: The climax to this story was so weird and confusing that I just plain don't know what to think about it. I couldn't visualize at all what was happening, though I gathered the general gist of it. Sort of. Okay, not really. There was a somewhat surprising twist that I wasn't entirely expecting, though Adelice's deduction skills definitely need work. As a whole, Crewel is not the worst dystopian I have read, but it came close. I think it could have been really good if the Author had abandoned the fads among dystopian books - makeovers, love triangles, things like that - and given us characters that we could actually care about. And villains who were actually creepy, and not cartoonish in their evilness.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, fifteen-and-up, fans of dystopian novels like The Selection and Wither.

Others in the Crewel World Series:

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