Richelle Mead’s ‘Soundless’ centres on an artist’s apprentice Fei and how her silent world (as everyone who lives in her village is deaf) is shattered when she is suddenly able to hear. Fei then becomes intent on using this renewed sense to help free her village from the fact that they are slowly starving due to the system set in place for the village’s survival.
To be honest, I was halfway through this book and really felt like it wouldn’t remain a standalone novel. I was not sure how Mead was going to be able to tie it all together in the space she had provided; but she did. In saying that, I suppose it means I felt the first half to be a little slow if I was wondering how everything would come together. So there is probably a lot of text before you can really get into the story that really picks up in the last quarter.
The world created was adequate for me. There wasn’t loads of description about it, but I could see it well enough whilst reading. This was particularly true of the description when Fei was introduced to new sounds, and allowed the reader to really understand and feel what Fei was going through. Also, was the book “steeped” in Chinese culture? Probably not; though it was in part highlighted in particular moments. While description could have been more in-depth in regards to Chinese culture, I believe there was still enough there to at least see what Mead was trying to accomplish.
The characters were interesting. The characterisation gave me good insight into Fei’s village and how she saw things; particularly in ways different to myself. I especially liked the fact that all the main characters written about only signed, so that there was no verbal discussion whatsoever. I think that this differing aspect to the book is what makes the story so valuable. Whilst the protagonist is “healed” of her disability more than working through it to show her other strengths (which could be seen as a flaw if you were looking for that kind of hero), Li (Fei’s possibility of romance mentioned on the back cover) actually works as a character who is able to do this.
‘Soundless’ was a quick read and enjoyable for a Young Adult novel. I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I did her Vampire Academy series, but it was still fun.
3 / 5