This is the first novel I’ve read by Richelle Mead. I was especially intrigued by the Chinese folklore and disability-like aspects. Soundless was not quite as exceptional as I expected considering all of the hype that surrounds Richelle Mead but it was enjoyable nonetheless.
For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. 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 and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.
But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.
Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever…
Soundless tells the story of Fei, a young girl living in a Chinese village that has been trapped on top of a mountain for years. Her people have gone for generations without having the ability to hear and some people are slowly beginning to lose their ability to see, including Fei’s sister. This causes panic in the village as they depend on their workforce to mine metals which they trade for food with a kingdom at the end of a zipline. Spurred by decreasing food deliveries and the sudden ability to hear, Fei and her friend/love interest Ling set off down the treacherous mountain to try and save their village. On their journey, they learn more about the mythology surrounding their lives and the ruthless king they are subject to.
I thought Mead did a great job of describing what it was like for Fei and her people to be living without sound and what it was like when she suddenly was able to hear for the first time. The descriptions were very vivid and easy to understand. I liked Fei’s strength and perseverance and her willingness to do anything for her sister Zhang Jing, even if it meant sacrificing her own happiness. She was easy to relate to and I wanted her to find the answers she was looking for.
The folklore aspect is very subtle and at times, I found it easy to forget that there was supposed to be a fantasy element to the story. The ending was a bit jarring with the fantastical elements since they hadn’t been very prominent throughout the novel. I also wish there had been more emphasis placed on the Chinese heritage and folklore, but that could just be a personal thing. Some of the plot points, including the ending, felt predictable but I was interested enough to find out the cause of loss of hearing/sight to keep reading.
Ultimately, Soundless was enjoyable but not mind-blowing in any way. I enjoyed Fei as a main character and was kept interested by the mysterious elements of the story. I recommend Soundless if you’re looking for a light fantasy novel.