Soundless has such a unique concept! It’s set in a Chinese village of 300 residents that sits on the top of a mountain. The conditions of the mountain are less than ideal for farming/gardening and the residents of this village have all tragically lost the ability to hear many decades ago. Being deaf prevents them from descending the mountain because they would never hear avalanches. Luckily, there are mines and the villagers have been able to trade the metals from these mines for food and supplies from the village below via a zip line. As if being deaf was not bad enough, some of the villagers have now begun to lose their sight, which is an obvious must-have for mining. With the amount of metals declining, so has the amount of food, but Fei has miraculously gained her sense of hearing. *cue gasp* Something has to be done before everyone in her village dies of starvation and as the only person able to hear, Fei knows it’s all up to her…. no pressure! hehe
I’ve been wanting to read a Richelle Mead book for ages but with the Bloodlines and Vampire Academy series both being 6 books I kept putting her off til later. When I saw she finally had a standalone being released I was super excited to check out her writing style and see what all the buzz was about. Although Soundless is not what most would consider a “page turner”, Mead had a way of ending each chapter in such a way that makes you want to read at least the first paragraph in the next chapter just to see what the heck happens next! I quickly realized why she has so many fans.
A fantasy novel that is not only a standalone but less than 300 pages long? Of course there’s a possibility of pulling that off, but it was done so much better than I thought was possible! Being less than 300 pages did not hinder the world building at all. Richelle did a great job at explaining the history of the village and the reason for why things are the way they are. Although there is no verbal dialog between the characters, they communicate through sign language and Mead made it all flow perfectly. I could vividly imagine the scenes as they were playing out and walked away from Soundless like I had just experienced something magical!
One of my favorite things about this story was the bond between Fei and her older sister, Zhang Jing, because it was something I could totally relate to. I have a sister named Carmen, who I’ve talked about in reviews before, that is my other half, my partner in crime, (for all my fellow Grey’s Anatomy lovers) my person. Although she’s older than me by 2 years, we share a super close bond and I’ve always felt the need to protect her. The way that Fei is willing to do anything for Zhang Jing really gave me all of the feels!
Lately, I’ve been falling for the losing end of love triangles so I was really glad that the “love triangle” (if you can even call it that) in Soundless was super minor and lasts a whole 3.5 seconds! So if love triangles or insta-love aren’t your thing, you have nothing to worry about here. :)
Halfway through the book, I thought there was just no way it could all be wrapped up by the final page, but Richelle Mead pulled it off and really gave Soundless a great conclusion. My reason for this book not scoring higher is because I lacked a greater connection to the characters. Sure, I wanted them to succeed, but when the story was over I wasn’t left wanting more from them. You know those books/characters that will stay on your mind for days/weeks/months long after you’ve put them back on your shelf? Well, this one didn’t do that for me. When I was done, I was simply ready for the next one.
This year I’ve decided to keep track of the characters I live through and all of the places they take me to. Starting off 2016 as a young talented artist who lives on a mountain top in China and helps save my village is really a great way to kick things off!
In a village without sound…
For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so 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. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation.
One girl hears a call to action…
Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon.
She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever…
And unlocks a power that will save her people.