Author: Gennifer Albin
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Release Date: October 16th, 2012
I think we’re all familiar with the saying, “It’s not you, it’s me!” and while I would love to claim that my disappointed feelings concerning this book stem from me, and not the book itself, I honestly don’t think I can. Yes, my unusually prolific knowledge on dystopian and science-fiction novels definitely played a role in my lack of amazement at the so-called creativity of this novel and that same understanding enabled me to predict the ending of this novel far before the half-way mark of this book was even reached, but overall, I really do think it’s the book as well, not just me. Yet, then again, with my reputation of being a black sheep, you could just say this book wasn’t for me, but who knows? Ultimately, the point is that Crewel was a disappointing read with a lot of potential which failed to live up to the immense amount of hype surrounding it.
Adelice lives in
Arras, a world where unmarried women with weaving talents, known as Spinsters, can control time and matter. Ever since she was young, Adelice has discovered that she has this power as well, but she has struggled to keep it suppressed due to her parent's fear of Adelice becoming separated from her family and taken away to the lone towers where the Spinsters live their lives. On the day of testing, however, Adelice fails to fail and when The Guild, the totalitarian government which controls every aspect of their lives, comes to take her away, her parents force her to run away. Nevertheless, Adelice is soon caught and taken to become a Spinster where she causes as much trouble as she possibly can. Yet, as she will soon find out, there is more to The Guild than what meets the eye and her parents just may have been on to something when they begged her to run away…
Wow, a dystopian novel where women control time? Awesome! Original! Creative! Riiight? Wrong. I’ve heard all those three words used to described this novel, but in reality, Crewel is no different from any other dystopian book. We have our classic government which controls everything, from who you marry to what you study to what you eat and how many children you have. We all know that dystopian novels are about fixing the wrongs on Earth and restoring control, so really, this is nothing new. Furthermore, the whole idea of being able to kill people at mere whim isn’t anything new either! Lois Lowry did it in The Giver, Kurt Vonnegut did it in his short story “2 B R 0 2 B” and I’m sure countless other authors have done it in the past as well. While I’m not denying that Crewel does have an immense amount of originality in its conception – which we see only after the 50% mark of this novel has been passed – for the most part, this story just focuses on a dystopian government like any other. If anything, I found it to be formulaic and extremely typical, which was all rather disappointing.
Speaking of disappointments, I think the characters where what ruined this story for me. On the surface, Adelice is an amazing heroine – she’s a strong protagonist, she’s clever, she’s intelligent, and she sticks up for what she believes in. Yet, like any building, her foundation was off, which only made her overall character topple down as the story progressed. In Crewel, Adelice is credited for running away from The Guild on her own and for being a rebel – a role she quickly assumes without much reason. I think we were supposed to realize that the reason Adelice caused so much trouble was because her parents were killed, but this was hardly mentioned. It felt, to me at any rate, that she lacked true motivation for her actions and was falsely perceived as a rebel throughout the novel when she made it quite clear that she wouldn't have run away if it wasn't for her parents. Thus, the question for much of the novel which begs to be answered is why does Adelice do what she does and cause trouble for herself and for others as a Spinster when she doesn't even know why her parents hated The Guild? We never find out and while Adelice receives plenty of answers later, for the most part, her actions lack logical reasoning.
In addition to Adelice though, the villains in this story were mediocre at best. If anything, they were predictable, unoriginal, and almost cartoon-like in their anger, misbehavior, and evil deeds. In general, they failed to impress me and didn’t add anything to this novel. Furthermore, they were vastly underdeveloped – much like the love interests in this story as well. Yes, that’s right, love interests, plural. We have, ladies and gentlemen, another love triangle on our hands! While this wasn’t as bad as some I’ve read previously, it was still extremely irritating. Still, I have to admit though that Jost was an extremely developed character and I loved him throughout the story, although I did think the “problem” between him and Adelice was way too easy to see coming. Erik, on the other hand, was as flat as paper and seemed to pine after Adelice for no reason, so that aspect of their romance irritated me. Overall though, the love triangle really could have been worse.
Crewel is one of those novels that had so much potential, but just fell flat. I really loved the manner in which Albin revealed to us that this novel was a dystopian and some of the cruelty she exposed and horrors of the The Guild and the life in
Arras were beautifully written, as was the character of Adelice’s mentor. Yet, despite all those good qualities, it still remains that this novel was predictable, contained mostly underdeveloped characters, lacked originality, and had an extremely slow pacing to start with. I feel as if so much of the beginning could have just been cut out and if the second half of this was better edited, it would have been a much better story. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if I’m going to continue with this series. I really do think I can predict most of what will occur in Book Two already, so that definitely does not bode well. If you haven’t read a lot of dystopian or science fiction novels in the past, I think this will blow you away, but if you have, this might just wind up being another typical dystopian story for you. Ultimately though, Crewel joins my pile of extremely disappointing reads – after all the hype, I think I was just expecting more.
Thank you to NetGalley and MacMillan for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for a honest review!