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Thursday, November 29, 2012

[Review] Crewel (Crewel World, #1) by Gennifer Albin

Title: Crewel
Series: Crewel World, #1
Author: Gennifer Albin
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: October 16, 2012
I received an ARC from NetGalley.

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

Crewel is a highly unique addition to the YA Sci-Fi genre. It's some strange combination of Utopia and Dystopia. I know that sounds weird, but it's true. On the surface Arras looks like a nice place to live. There's no crime, just peace, but this is actually accomplished through weaving time and matter, done by Spinsters. Adelice is 16 years old and has just been recruited as a Spinster despite her's and her family's attempts at hiding her gift. She doesn't want to be responsible for every single aspect of people's lives, including removing those who deviate from the tapestry of life.

One thing that really bothered me about Crewel was all of the talk about gowns and cosmetics. The Spinsters live a very glamorous lifestyle, but why? Their clothes and makeup didn't add anything to the story except a bunch of empty words. I much rather would have been reading more about their job and the compound. They can manipulate space and time, so who cares what they're wearing?! Even Adelice doesn't care very much about the glitz and glamor, so why does the author spend so much time talking about it? It just became irritating about a third of the way in.

The world, Arras, was what I really wanted to learn more about. It's an extremely fascinating concept to have a world where everything can be altered at a simple touch. But it's not very clear how it all works, and even the character don't know. There's plenty of "we're still working things out," and "it wasn't explained" or "that has now been forgotten" and other phrases to kind of push the world building aside. I want to know how this all works! If the Spinsters must weave everything pertaining to life, who weaves the Spinsters? Why the looms? Why do some girls have the gift and others don't? If women ultimately have all of the control, why are they run by men?! Some answers start popping up in the last third, but they also sparked more questions about this complex and compelling world!

As for the plot...I was less interested, but there wasn't much of a plot to start out with anyway. The first two thirds are essentially just Adelice being "tested" by a jealous head Spinster and basically being told to "shut up and look pretty" by everyone who knows about her special talent. Of course, there's also the love triangle, but we never really get any real scenes of the boys and Adelice doing anything lovey related until a random kiss with one of them. It's more implied though, since she's never been around boys before and now all of a sudden there's two set to guard her and cater to her.

We also don't even get to know Erik that well at all, so it's almost like he doesn't exist until he's needed as eye-candy. I did like Jost though, but he was also the more fleshed out of the two love interests. This isn't really surprising though, since our heroine is a pretty bland character, too. In short, the world and the concept completely out shine the characters and the plot, and ultimately, it's what kept me interested, if not invested.

By the end I was getting a headache trying to figure everything out, and things started getting very weird and slightly creepy. There's some explanations about the history of Arras, but it's still confusing as heck. Plus there's all kinds of random things that start popping up seemingly out of nowhere. Overall, Crewel is an interesting read even if the plot, characters, and romance are lackluster. Will I read the next book? Most definitely! Would I recommend this one? Yes, if you're looking for something really out there and can overlook my complaints.

Favorite Quotes

It's one thing to be catty about others' misfortunes but harder to admit your own. (21% eARC)

"I'm dead already. We all are."
"Death is peaceful," he growls. "This half-life is worse." (27% eARC)

"Perhaps there was a purpose to the natural order of things," I say in a soft voice, but he ignores me. (85% eARC)

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  1. I have read some similar reviews about this novel. Still am going to check it out. Maybe get it for Christmas :)

  2. I've been working on this one for a while. NaNoWriMo started taking over in October so I had to put it down and I've been picking it up for piece meal bites. I'm only about 30% through and I have all the same concerns/questions that you do. After hearing so much hype about it at BEA I'm a little confused, I feel like I'm missing something. But I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the how and why. It sounds like those questions aren't answered later... boo.

  3. My copy of this one came in the mail today, so your review was perfect timing! It's disappointing to hear about the world-building though—that's something I always have issues with with dystopian novels, and I admit I'm hard to please.


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