January 28, 2013

Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Title: Crewel (Crewel World #1)
Author: Gennifer Albin
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Page Count: 368
Source: Borrowed from the New York Public Library
Rating: Nope. Not for me. At all.
Enter a tangled world of secrets and intrigue where a girl is in charge of other’s destinies, but not her own.

Sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has always been special. When her parents discover her gift—the ability to weave the very fabric of reality—they train her to hide it. For good reason, they don’t want her to become a Spinster — one of the elite, beautiful, and deadly women who determine what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die.

Thrust into the opulent Western Coventry, Adelice will be tried, tested and tempted as she navigates the deadly politics at play behind its walls. Now caught in a web of lies and forbidden romance, she must unravel the sinister truth behind her own unspeakable power. Her world is hanging by a thread, and Adelice, alone, can decide to save it — or destroy it.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

I saw this one in the library, recalled someone on my Twitter-feed writing a positive review for it and so I grabbed it. It sat on my nightstand for a while but I finally decided to read it, even though I was getting a bad vibe from it. Truth is: I probably should have just returned it unread.

Let's break this down:

Hold onto your deerstalkers, nerds, this one's a rant-y doozy.

First of all, the world building's not too convincing. I think I vaguely grasped the concept when Loricel was explaining stuff to Adelice (it's the MATRIX, Neo), but I still can't really describe what weaving looks like. I can't even tell you what pages to turn to in order to cobble together some semblance of what weaving looks like. I mean, at every turn it seems we're reminded that Adelice ISN'T practicing her skillz or learning how to harness her massively important talent instead of someone telling us how all of this fantastically awesome sounding stuff really works.

So what does happen in this book if not Adelice learning how to use her gift? A lot of misogynistic, patriarchal pageantry. I feel like this goes back to the shoddy world-building, but I don't understand how the men are in charge when the women are the Crewelers and Spinsters (i.e. the people who run The Show). If anything, this should be a world of Amazonian-esque women. But even if it somehow made sense that women should be subservient to men, the rampant sexism and homophobia in this book are outwardly offensive. A lot of books contain these elements, but I feel like this book kind of just beats you over the head with it, almost like it wants to indoctrinate you instead of encourage you to cheer the characters on as they work their way through this terrible scenario. It's honestly a little disturbing.

But world-building issues aside: The characters. Every single one of them was entirely black and white. You could draw a chart with columns. One side titled "Good Guys" and the other titled "Bad Guys". They're all completely one-dimensional and I don't really care for most of them. But to explain my feels for all of the characters to you, I put everyone into their own columns myself.

The "Good Guys":

Adelice wants her sister back and to maybe save the world? She's kinda snarky and demands some answers, which is nice, but ultimately she just gets wrapped up in pretty dresses and boys and just lets this story happen to her until she has NO CHOICE but to take charge. I mean, she knows what the government is capable of, how can she just SIT there and not even TRY and think up an escape.

Enora, well, that's a tragedy that falls kind of flat.

The boys. Ugh. Guys. Can I tell you? I saw that twist coming really early on. Also, can it please be noted that I totally don't understand why there had to be a love triangle. Seriously, she just kisses Erik and then completely forgets about him. It's almost like the boys are one person instead of two. But I will say that if I had to pick one, I'd pick Jost. His character is way more compelling than Erik's.

As for "The Bag Guys" (AKA: The Authority Figures):

Cormac wants to be Prime Minister at any cost. But what ARE those costs? It might help if I understood the government in any way shape or form. But seriously, could you be anymore generic?

Maela... I don't know what Maela's angle is. Does she want Cormac? Does she want Eric? Does she want world domination? What's really terrible is that even though she doesn't seem to have any direction she has plenty of ambition (the only female in the book with ANY) and she's made to seem like some kind of deranged psychopath who maims teenagers and throws them into cells when they're misbehaving. So basically she's a Disney villain. Which means she's totally evil, has no redeeming qualities and we're all obliged to cheer when she's done away with.

Pryana is the rule abiding hussy we all have to hate because she's awful to Adelice for indirectly killing her sister, clinging to powerful politicians, and supposedly being a scheming monster. Don't even get me started on the parody of a character because I will probably end up throwing something and that could end poorly.

I think the only one here who throws me for a loop is Lorciel, but that's because she just kind of steps aside and lets everything happen, both for the people in the good column and the bad column. So really she's just a placeholder.

This whole book basically boils down to bad world-building and more or less non-existant character motivations. There's a lot of potential, I think, especially for Adelice, and there's a TON that could actually motivate her (let's start with her parents and sister, shall we?) and some of it FINALLY hits her at the end. But it was too little, WAY too late for me. Maybe the ending of this book shows some promise for this series and the ONLY reason I'd pick it up when it comes out is because I want to see what happened to Earth (PS: saw that plot twist at the end coming, too). And because I generally need to finish a series. I'm terrible at abandoning series and DNF-ing books. It's a curse, really, no gift to be seen.

The long and short of it?

Plot? What plot? Nothing even really seems to happen until the VERY END.
World Building: I couldn't even tell you what Weaving looks like and it's the base of the story. Literally.
Character Development: Why do they want what they want? I don't know. What do they even want? Besides for Jost and Adelice's familial motivations, I have absolutely no idea.
Prose: It just didn't do anything for me.
Would I Recommend This Book?: No. Really, no. Maybe if you're curious grab it from the library but only the last, oh, 75 pages or so were in the least bit interesting.


  1. I did kind of like this one, though I will admit the world-building definitely needs some improvement. Every time I thought I understood weaving, I got confused all over again.

    Also, NO to that HORRIBLE love triangle. It's not even supposed to exist. Just saying.

    1. I'm not even SO picky when it comes to world building. I just need SOMETHING to hold onto, y'know?

      Also, I hate love triangles in general, but this one was just freaking absurd.

      I'm glad you kind of liked it tho! I'm hopeful it gets better in the next one (as I'll be reading it since I can't NOT finish series - yes, I do hate myself).

  2. There are many fascinating layers to the world created by Gennifer Albin in Crewel, Book 1 of the Crewel World Series. It is a combination of fantasy, science fiction, dystopian, mystery, and suspense.
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