Author: Richelle Mead
Format I Read: Physical ARC
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Synopsis from Goodreads
For those who are unfamiliar with Soundless:
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…
There is nothing more satisfying than finishing an amazing standalone novel. There’s something about the perfectly packaged story of a standalone that just leaves you so content. Honestly, I have the loveliest feeling in my heart right now. I feel like I can move mountains and change the world. I feel that good–Soundless was that amazing.
Since reading the synopsis and seeing the absolutely gorgeous cover, I’ve been coveting this book. Luckily, I got it in a spontaneous galley drop at BEA this year. As I read this book, I savored it–I let it muse in my mind, spreading the relatively short book out over four days. I’ll have you know, this is not something I normally do. I’m a “devour the book in one sitting with no regrets” kind of girl. But Soundless was just different. There’s something about Mead’s writing that just makes me want to drown in her words. I really don’t know what it is about Richelle Mead’s books, but I just want to wrap myself up in her stories.
The world that Mead created was so fascinating. I loved the culture and folklore that coated the story. Though the fantasy element was peculiar, it was still interesting. You see, Soundless was only really a fantasy in theory at the beginning. It was fantasy in that we didn’t know what was causing the deafness, so it must’ve been magic. What else could be causing the loss of the villagers’ senses? However, in the last twenty or so pages, the Mead cranks up the fantasy. I loved how it all came together with the folklore. It made so much sense and was really satisfying!
The characters were fantastic. Fei was such a great main character. She had imagination, she had passion, she had compassion, she had spirit. She was well-rounded and real. I really loved her. Though I didn’t always agree with her decisions, I respected her. In addition to having a strong and contemplative heroine, Soundless also had a completely swoonworthy hero. Li Wei was strong and realistic, but also romantic and creative. He was hard and soft, tough and kind. His romance with Fei was lovely and natural. I felt like their relationship was perfectly balanced with the story!
The only character I didn’t like was Zhang Jing, Fei’s older sister. I felt like Zhang Jing played the role of Prim to Fei’s Katniss. She was the weak sister who evoked all of Fei’s protective instincts, driving every single action Fei made in the book. The relationship just didn’t click with me. I felt like Zhang Jing was ungrateful and shallow, while Fei was stifling and smothering. Their relationship just wasn’t natural. Perhaps if Zhang Jing was younger and more helpless, it would’ve been more believable. Unfortunately, it didn’t strike as much of a chord with me as Fei’s relationship with Li Wei.
As I said, I felt like the romance was perfectly balanced. Not too rushed, not too unnatural. It was sweet and endearing. I liked the childhood romance aspect. It added an extra kick of believability to the romance. It was very satisfying!
I already knew I loved Mead’s writing (I’m an avid fan of Vampire Academy), but I wasn’t sure how she’d do with a standalone about a deaf village. That’s not exactly your typical situation. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised! Though it was weird not to have dialogue and quotations – she used italics for the translations of the hand signing -, it was easy to adjust to the writing style. Mead also compensated for the lack of dialogue with vivid descriptions. The writing ended up being a major asset to the story.
I just really think that Soundless is a perfectly balanced book–it’s a perfect, quick bite of brain food. It was short and sweet. Like a roller coaster, the ride was brief but exhilarating. And, like a roller coaster, the wait will be well worth it. The book achieved the charming balance between romance, adventure, mystery, fantasy, family, and culture. Mead mixed everything together and popped out a fresh standalone that will earn a place in your heart.
Overall, Soundless earned four well-deserved stars in my books! Mead, the queen of the series, was astoundingly successful in this fantasy standalone. I definitely recommend pre-ordering it if you enjoy diversity, folklore, and short reads!
With lots of bookish love,