Book Review: Crewel
By: Gennifer Albin
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Genre: YA science fiction/dystopian
or Barnes and Noble
Source: I own it
Source: I own it
One of my favorite experiences as a reader is having a book highly recommended, then finding out that it's the real deal- that it really is as good as you've heard. Crewel is one of those books.
Crewel was first brought to my attention by my local indie bookseller, Rainy Day Books. They announced that they would be hosting the launch party, since the author is local to our area. Being the nerdy YA book blogger that I am, I had to get in on that action- so I bought my ticket and took myself to that launch party. The event was fun- but then again, I love book signings. The very best part, however, was when I got that book home and got to dive into its pages.
Within the first 20 pages, our heroine is being ripped from her home and carried off to a distant institution, where she is imprisoned for a while before she is even spoken to. She finds few there who are willing to be a friend, and fewer who earn her trust. She learns that she has extraordinary abilities, and that she will need to find a way to access them in order to save herself and others. So far, it sounds like a lot of YA novels, right?
Crewel is different from the rest of the pack in several ways. First, there's the whole structure of the society, with a strict patriarchy that requires separation of children of different genders, to the point of not allowing brothers and sisters to be raised together- which makes for some great dialogue one the heroine actually gets to talk to a boy. Next, there's the ingeniously purposeful use of mixed genre; the book begins much like a fantasy novel, shifts to science fiction, and is revealed to be dystopian near the end. Crewel is another book in an elite handful that feature strong, independent female characters who are worthy of girls' reading time. Last and best, the imagery of the world being created as a work of woven art is simply lovely- and deliciously fun to visualize.
One complaint I've read in others' reviews is that not everything in the book is completely explained. This is actually something that I very much appreciate about this book: it tells me a story, but allows me to participate by leaving room for me to supply some details from my own imagination. This book has such a rich texture and so many elements that are unique that if each was explained fully, the first book would have easily been 500 pages, and the plot would have been hopelessly weighed down. Bravo to the author and editor for culling all that was unnecessary and allowing the story to unfold.
I often end reviews of first-in-series books by gushing about how much I am anticipating book 2. In this case, because I think I know where the series is heading, I am eagerly awaiting both books 2 and 3. Please, Gennifer, write faster! I want to know if I'm right- and if I am, this is going to be one to push on every single bookish friend you have.
Summary from GoodReads:
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.