Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Title: Crewel
Author: Gennifer Albin
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Pages: 368 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC via Amazon Vine
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: author website

Crewel (Crewel World, #1)Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.


Review:


This book makes me tired.

There are a lot of things in YA that I'm tiring of: slut shaming; girl/women hate; abusive relationships being gussied up as "edgy" and romantic when they're not; me saying no to a book only for friends to say it's great and then I realize my gut feeling was right when I read said book; bland love triangles that don't really capture how difficult being in that situation can be; and so many more that I can't even remember at the moment. Crewel, thank God, does not have all those elements to it, but it does have a few. A few too many, sadly.

The bright lights in this experience are the worldbuilding and writing of Crewel. Albin's world is fascinating and will draw many readers in with its fairly original concepts, though certain pieces can be a little derivative of other novels, and the idea behind the looms. And ooh, what delicious writing! The scenes describing how it felt to work on the looms made me feel like I was eating the most decadent chocolate to ever exist. It was beautiful to the point of almost being torturous, it was so good.

Fantastic writing and compelling worldbuilding, no matter how great, are unable to save this novel from its weak characters, lack of explanations, and how tired I am of seeing this dystopians aim for women in particular.

Perhaps I've read too many novels lately where women are once again forced into obedience to men. I can't do it anymore. I really can't. Seeing this time after time in novels, even though Crewel and most other novels end up objecting to this nasty treatment of women, has gotten depressing and at some points, it made me not want to read anymore. Even calling Adelice and girls like her Spinsters when that is such a loaded term to me hurt, though I'm sure the author used it with its negative connotation in mind--which will be great writing and something I thumbs-up her if it's true. It's stressing me out and I can't keep doing this. I really can't. (But none of this counts against the novel. I just needed a moment.)

The weak characters make it difficult to keep going despite the novel's strong points. Adelice lacks the distinctive personality to really make her pop off the page and the supporting characters, to the two bland love interests that make up the love triangle to the shallow cartoon villains, are no better. She flip-flops between Jost and Erik and I simply don't care. There's no life to it.

Not everything about this worldbuilding makes sense. The neighborhoods are segregated so that boys and girls rarely, if ever, meet before it comes time to set up courtship appointments when they're sixteen and older. Yet fathers live with their daughters and mothers presumably live with their sons. There's sense in keeping that family unit together because the Guild likes the family unit, but that sense disappears when we remember the sexes are segregated to keep the girls' purity standards in place. What, like adult men and adult women don't ever sexually abuse children--even their own children?

More questions, such as what happens when married couples have sex and conceive without permission, the full limits of what Spinsters can do,, how these social dynamics came about, how people began to develop the ability to be Spinsters and Crewelers in the first place, why the men are still in control when it's the women who really have the power, and more are left unanswered. These questions and Crewel's cliffhanger ending are perfect lures to bring readers back for book two in the Crewel World series, but readers who are unenthralled by the book may not want to come back.

2 stars!


What am I reading next?: Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh