by Richelle Mead
To be published
on Nov 10, 2015
Source: ARC giveaway at BEA
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
My take: Overall, I enjoyed reading Soundless. I'm a huge Richelle Mead fan and after reading so many of her books set in the VA world, it was fun to see her write something set in a completely different place and time, not to mention a standalone. Other pluses for me were Fei's character, her relationship with her sister, and the challenge that Mead set herself in writing a book featuring characters who can't hear and therefore don't speak, only sign. At first, the italicized signed-dialogue was a little odd, but I quickly got used to it. And I really love this cover (way more than the VA ones...)
I also loved the whole set-up of the book. It's hard to explain, but it felt a little like a folk story or a fable: a group of people beset with a mysterious, unexplained affliction, an unseen enemy, and the unlikely hero(one) who will save them all. Soundless isn't that short (272 pages) but I still kept feeling like I was reading something that wasn't a novel, like a story or a novella. As a rather reluctant fantasy reader, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I could have used even more fantasy/paranormal elements, even if that added a few more pages to the story. I think fantasy books need that 350+ page length to get in all the world building that readers expect.
But all in all, I ecommend this if you're up for something short and self-contained!