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Monday, May 23, 2016

Soundless by Richelle Mead

This book is beautifully written. Inspired by Chinese folklore and culture, Richelle Mead was able to paint an exquisite setting for this standalone book. I haven't read anything like it and it's refreshing to read such an intelligent and meaningful story. While the book is quite short, as a reader you develop a strong admiration for the characters, especially Fei who has defied all odds.

The heroine of the story is Fei, a young artist and apprentice. Her main duty for her community is to paint and record everyday events. Her mining village is a small one, isolated in the mountains, and their only way of communication and trade is through a zip line with a township at the bottom of the mountains. Isolated generations ago, everybody in the community has lost their hearing, and many are on their way to losing their eyesight. For Fei, as an artist, her sight means everything, so she dreads the day where vision loss will leave her with no purpose, no duty and no honour. So, quite surprisingly, in the middle of the night, she is blessed with the sense she never born with. At first, noises are a hindrance and she hides her new ability, but then she uses her newfound hearing to travel down the mountain, something no one has done in generations because of the fear of being buried alive in a rocky avalanche.

Along with her childhood friend, Li Wei, she unravels the mystery behind her village's isolation and deafness. They have been lied to and used for years without realizing they were actually slaves to a tyrannical king. I love Fei and her courage. She's the type of heroine that inspires without fancy abilities or incredible strength. She simply searches for balance and righteousness, and in doing so, she rallies her entire village to stand up for their rights. Fighting oppression is the main theme in this novel, and while slavery has been condemned in the western world, there are still some cultures that consider it justifiable. This is 2016, and we have come a long way as humans, but we can't forget that oppression is still present in some societies. Personally, I feel like this story has a lot to teach.

Fei relies almost entirely on her vision and Richelle Mead conveys that wonderfully through vivid imagery and wonderful description. When Fei starts hearing sounds, I thought it was brilliant how the author was able to convey emotion through sound, such as Fei's surprised reaction when hearing rain for the first time, or the pain she felt when she heard someone cry in anguish. Simple noises like birds singing and teacups clinging might be very ordinary for those people blessed with hearing, but for Fei who had never heard such noises, they were awe inspiring.

As an optometrist, I see patients weekly that are on the verge of losing their eyesight. To have a fictional writer describe that in novel and to convey such a message is wonderful. Pity and sympathy might be something we feel for someone about to go deaf or blind (or already there), but in my opinion, most people afflicted would prefer empathy. That we understand what they're going through but still allow them to function and be a part of society. That's the general feeling I got from the villagers that were going blind. They wanted to keep working, knowing that it was their honour on the line. However, I think it's important that they ask for help whenever the situation it too dire. No one should be forced to work or do something if they are unable to, or if it puts them in jeopardy.

Personally, I thought Soundless was a little bit too short but despite that fact, I think it was able to convey many different lessons, along with a great story rooted in Asian mythology. I wish we could have learnt more about the history and the folklore of Fei's village, but I think what we don't know adds a little mystery to the story. The novel was very well written, and unfortunately, I feel will be overlooked by Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy fans.

stephsig moon

Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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1 Person left their mark:

  1. I've heard so many mixed things about this book when it first came out. I wonder if it had to do with the fact that it's such a short standalone novel that people didn't feel like they understood Fei and her world fully. I haven't read it yet but it's sitting on my bookshelf with Mead's other books. Thanks for the honest review. I look forward to reading it.

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