Soundless by Richelle Mead
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Published by: Razorbill
Soundless has received a lot of mixed reviews, mostly because people were surprised that it’s a fantasy novel and yet it’s only 260-something pages. At first I was hesitant to pick it up, because I have similar tastes to those that said they didn’t enjoy it, but when I found Soundless in my local library, I couldn’t resist. From this I’ve leaned that we shouldn’t be surprised just because one book doesn’t fit our conventions of the genre, because, for me, Soundless was refreshing and completely beautiful! I LOVED IT!
P L O T
Our main character Fei, lives in a village on the top of a mountain so they rely on the township at the bottom of the mountain to send them food parcels, and in exchange they mine the precious metals from the mountain and send them back down. The people of the village are all deaf, and rely on visual communication, through either sign-language or paintings. Fei is the most skilled artist of her village but something is troubling her. Her sister is going blind and more and more miners are losing their sight too! For a town that relies on their sight to communicate there doesn’t seem to be a cure, until hearing returns to Fei and she turns into a girl on a mission to save her family.
Soundless is a fantasy based on Chinese folklore. Richelle Mead has already proved to us with the VA and Bloodlines series, that she’s amazing at translating mythology into kick-ass stories, and Soundless is no exception! The characters are so wholesome and the setting so rich, you really feel like you’re a part of the world.
My only issue with the world building was the world outside of the mountain village. We don’t get to see it for very long and it’s complicated system of hierarchy and privilege isn’t explained in much depth and because of the otherwise isolated mountain setting, it was difficult to imagine the world as a whole.
C H A R A C T E R S
Fei isn’t a stereotypically Richelle Mead protagonist. She hasn’t got a quick wit, or a sharp tongue, but she does share the same overwhelming urge to protect others that Rose and Sydney have. I loved how calm and different she was, it was refreshing to see a different dynamic unlike what I’ve already read.
Li Wei is the love interest and I fell in love with him too! The two protagonists have shared a long history together, growing up, but it’s obvious the way they interact with each other how much they value the other. The pair team up to save the village and I have to say my favourite parts were when they were working together.
Soundless has a collection os other background characters, that don’t do much other than fill out the world, or give the characters motivation to risk their lives, eg. Fei’s sister. I would’ve liked a bigger cast of characters, but at the same time I thought it was really sweet that we only focused on the building relationship of Fei and Li Wei.
R O M A N C E
The romance is SO cute! Once again, it’s not the lusty forbidden loves of VA or Bloodlines, in fact Fei and Li Wei seem to have this little thing called Destiny pulling them together. As I said they share a history, so the romance doesn’t start completely from scratch, but they haven’t talked to each other in a while before they decide to team up. I’d describe the romance as cutesy and down-right adorable. I fell in love with the pair of them and although their was some drama they weren’t silly about expressing how they felt. They had to communicate because their mission was so risky!
P A C I N G
It’s easy to think the ending was rushed, because there’s a lot of action compared to the rest of the book, which is otherwise a pretty slow paced. I have to say that I loved the pacing, I thought it built beautifully and what was actually happening plot-wise made me want to keep reading. I literally didn’t put this book down until I finished it!
It might not to be everyone’s tastes, especially if you’re a big fantasy reader, and you’re used to 600-800 page whoppers of action-adventure. But the slow pace really does suit the fairytale style of Soundless, and as long as you go in knowing that’s it’s not all guns blazing from the very beginning then you can’t be disappointed!
V E R D I C T
There was a lot of criticism about how the logic behind why the village was deaf was lacking detail, but I found it to be perfectly clear! The only think that isn’t really explained is how the villagers found themselves so far away from the rest of the world in the first place? I’m not entirely sure if the mountain was once capable of growing food, but it seems kind of crazy to choose an infertile mountain as a place to build your settlement. Overall, Soundless was amazing and I’m so glad I read it! It’s a quick read so I would definitely recommend it, especially to fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, because it’s the same sort of slow burner. I can’t wait for The Glittering Court to come out next year because so far, I’ve loved absolutely everything I’ve read of Richelle Mead’s. Soundless gets 5 stars from me!