by Gennifer Albin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Source: ARC from Publisher
I find this cover to be prettty! The colourssss. However, I could do without the girl and I on paper this cover is a bit too garish for me.
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.
'They came in the night. Once, families fought them, neighbours coming to their aide. But now that peace has been established, and the looms proven, girls pray to be retrieved.'
I HATED IT. Every simpering, ridiculous, cheesy second. UGHGHGHGHHHH.
Highs: It's hard to think of any. The concept maybe- I loved the idea of weaving time. However, the execution was shit so the idea was ruined for me.Lows: Where do I start? The awful main character? The doubly awful love triangle? The lack of characterization? Seriously, this book set my teeth on edge.
NOOOO. This is bad. I didn't just dislike this book. I hated it so much that it made me angry. I had a look of appalled disbelief on my face as I read more and more, quickly realising that the awesome book I had heard about full of time weaving and Spinsters was actually WORSE than 'The Selection' by Kiera Cass. I'm sorry but I cannot forgive. Hopefully I can forget.
The characters in this book do not act appropriately considering the world that they are in. This world, and its rulers, are supposed to be so terrifying that Adelice's parents attempt a suicidal escape mission right at the start of the novel. So, we are directed right from the beginning to believe that this world is dangerous, and the people who are in charge are evil. However, the flippant and disrespectful manner in which Adelice treats her captors is shockingly consequence free and nothing particularly bad happens at all. Sure, she gets locked in solitary confinement now and again but as the details of her time there are completely glossed over, we never get the feeling that she has truly suffered in the cells. She comes out pretty chipper and making eyes at the porter whilst she is being released rather than gasping for water or unable to walk. I never once felt that she was in any sort of danger, because it was obvious that the people in charge were incompetent and found her backchat charming, because she is oh-so feisty and scrappy. Ugh. Oh, and don't forget attractive because the guy in charge even gets a crush on her. In fact, every single man she meets seems to be falling at her feet. This world is a complete joke.
I hated Adelice. Her parents and sister are either dead or in mortal danger and the only people who can prevent their further harm are those you have been captured by. So what do you do? Complain because you don't like the clothes? Moan about the bath? Have stirrings of sexual desire every time you see a man? Make jealous comments about the beauty of the other girls? I think the author tried to make Adelice a ballsy, gutsy heroine but missed the mark entirely by making her seem just plain arrogant and idiotic. I mean, at a time when your parents have probably just been killed and these people could do the same to you at any time do you moan about getting dressed up? Also, the author imbues Adelice with this aversion to clothes and make-up and fancy pants things, yet there are an awful amount of makeovers and descriptions of gowns in this book. It really reminded me of 'The Selection' in that way; the heroine has this irritating mock-modesty and humility and hatred of femininity yet the book is teeming with dresses and balls. You don't have to make a heroine hate pretty things to make her likable y'know.
The supporting characters? What supporting characters. The other Spinsters are hardly touched upon, so we have an anonymous herd of girls whom are indistinguishable from each other and are all portrayed en mass as shallow and materialistic. Only one is picked out, so we know right from the beginning that she must be important. I hate it when there are no decent characters despite the ones the author requires to drive the story forward. Aside from the stock characters, we got nothing. Adelice has no sympathy when she hears that some of these girls who lack Spinster powers are destined to become servants and lackeys- they deserve it for being so excited about their new life and being hopeful about their future. But as Adelice has deemed them all ignorant and unimportant, it's fine that they are basically slaves til the end of their days. Even though she never once has a conversation with any of them. She says at one point:
'I want to tell him that unlike the other simpering idiots here I've actually read a book or two in my life.'
Yeah so, modesty is not a strong point of hers. Neither is mercy, or sympathy that these girls are sucking up to people whom will kill them if they don't. She would have them laughing in their faces and throwing tantrums everyday like she does. I suppose she knows there's no real danger considering the amount of times people tell her that she is going to be killed/going to die and all she can muster is an angsty sigh or a rude retort. I mean, if you don't want to cease to occupy the mortal realm all you have to do is stop being a rude brat to one woman (an albeit nasty woman but I think it's a small price to pay). Can she manage that? Oh no.
This world just isn't dangerous. Whispering works a treat in the compound; oh yeah there's surveillance but apparently it doesn't pick up whispering or lowered voices. Something you would've thought they'd fix. Oh, and blurting shit out such as secret powers and secret plans in the grounds in earshot of a guard is fine as long as you clap your hand over your mouth afterwards or drag someone into an empty room (which coincidentally is free from CCTV). However, not only is there no tension or danger in this world, it also just doesn't make any sense. We already learn at the beginning of the novel that the Spinsters are looked up to and admired by the general population. Yet, when Adelice is interviewed she has to rehearse answers set by the rulers which make her sound shallow and dumb such as the answer to 'What is your favourite part of being a Spinster?' to which she replies:
'The clothing. It's so nice to have pretty things to wear everyday'
WHY!? Why would they make their Spinsters like this? The public are supposed to trust and revere the Spinsters, but how could they do anything but despise them with such mind numbing answers? Surely, if anything, the Spinsters should appear ethereal and wise and mysterious, not straight out of a beauty pageant. And don't even get me started on how she treats the man who has potentially massacred her entire family, and then forced her to travel with him endlessly smiling and posing for pictures. She isn't sure she is justified in not liking him because he has always been nice and respectful to her. Despite the family killings, this is a man who slimes all over her every time he sees her. Oh, and at one point she is being sent to a hotel alone to meet him, and is warned by a guard that he may do things that would require her to defend herself by 'a knee to the crotch'... in other words he may try and rape her. Her reaction? She has to SUPPRESS LAUGHTER. What's a bit of casual molestation between friends, eh? Adelice generally has very strange reactions to the men around her, including a love interest who tells her of his horrendous past and what happened to his family, and her reaction is jealousy that he has already had sex with someone. I couldn't even.
The reason this book even got the one star I gave it, is the weave itself. Every person, object and place in Arras has its own thread, or, in the case of a place, a woven section. The Spinsters maintain Arras by redistributing, adding, and removing the strands and sections that are weak and compromise the whole tapestry. I like the tapestry and the way the strands reflected people and their personalities; I love the image of a shimmering, vibrant weave that shows time and space, and each strand is unique. I just wish someone else had thought of this idea and written a decent book about it.
Overall, this book was most definitely not for me. There is only so much nostril flaring and 'crumbling' into men's arms I can take, unfortunately. While this book may be about weaving, the story and characters are no rich tapestry.
This Book has Inspired me to Read: I read 'The Shadow Society' by Marie Rutkoski straight after finishing this and IT WAS AWESOME! So that helped me to feel good about books again.
Three Words to Describe this Book: Cliche, boring, irritating.
But Don't Take My Word For It...
- Blog Reviews of 'Crewel':
Cuddlebuggery Book Blog says:
'Overall, I really like Crewel and think dystopian fans who are looking for something completely different, will eat this up. I don’t usually say this that often, but Crewel is definitely a debut that lives up to the hype and will have readers hungering for more. I know I am.'
Ivy Book Bindings say:
'Crewel is one of those novels that had so much potential, but just fell flat. I really loved the manner in which Albin revealed to us that this novel was a dystopian and some of the cruelty she exposed and horrors of the The Guild and the life in Arras were beautifully written, as was the character of Adelice’s mentor. Yet, despite all those good qualities, it still remains that this novel was predictable, contained mostly underdeveloped characters, lacked originality, and had an extremely slow pacing to start with.'