CREWEL by Gennifer Albin
Published October 16, 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Series: Crewel World, #1
Blurb: 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.
Favorite quote: (uhhhh, actually? I don’t have one)
I can’t begin to describe this book. I’m staring at this empty white page, trying to find words to describe the confusion and wonder I felt while reading. This book is bizarre. Okay.
On the surface, Crewel follows the path of typical dystopian novels. There’s a society that’s controlled by the government. It controls who you marry, how many children you have, what job(s) you have, where you live, what you eat, where you travel, and so on. And of course there’s the protagonist who discovers how bad the world is, or maybe she already knew, and then she helps unravel the society and chooses one of the two boys she’s been agonizing over. We’ve seen this a million times in a million ways.
Crewel has all of that, and then it has more.
Adelice’s world, called Arras, is controlled on looms. Every person has a thread. Every building, flower, street, cup, cloud…every particle has a thread. The women who can see these threads and weave with them are called Spinsters. Supposedly only women have this power, which is interesting because in this world men are considered better than women. Spinsters live happy, pretty, privileged lives. Every girl dreams of being one.
Adelice’s parents don’t want her to become one of the Spinsters. At first, this seems shocking. What parent doesn’t want such a good life for their child? But they understand the real truths here, as you’ll discover. Arras is a world of many layers, quite literally. When you’ve reached the last page, you’ll understand how.
Every time I thought I understood what was going on, something new would be revealed. It took me a lot of rereading to figure things out.
Eventually I had to look up the word “crewel”. I thought it was just a clever spin on “cruel”, but I was wrong! It’s actually a word.
Crewel: slackly twisted worsted yarn used for embroidery (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
But then, what about “spinster”? Because obviously here it’s meant as someone who uses the looms, but we know spinsters as old ladies who never married. And in Crewel, the Spinsters are expected to abide by purity laws so they never get…distracted…from their job. So perhaps it’s really about wordplay after all. Hmm…
As for Adelice, in my opinion she’s a run-of-the-mill character. She’s quite sassy, but I felt like it was just words put in her mouth. I didn’t feel like it was her personality. She’s rebellious but only because of boys she’s in love wit (yup, there’s a love triange…) She’s just kind of…meh.
As for the EVIL AWFUL LOVE TRIANGLE (*cue scary music*), it’s surprisingly not that bad. I wish there wasn’t a love triangle at all, but so far it’s okay. Adelice hasn’t begun the whiny how-can-I-possibly-choose stuff yet. Here’s to hoping Albin doesn’t go down that path!
The ending will shock you. ‘Nuff said.
If you’ve been hesitating about reading this, you should absolutely read it. I waited a long time because I was unsure. But even with its flaws, the praise this book has gotten is totally deserved. It’s an original and very creative story, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
I would recommend this book for dystopian and fantasy fans.
Rating: 4 stars
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