[Review] Soundless by Richelle Mead
Soundless by Richelle Mead features a female protagonist named Fei who lives in a village on top of a mountain, a village without sound.
When I heard tell of this book, I was immediately intrigued, mainly for the fact that it takes a somewhat different path from the other best-selling books that this author has written which includes Vampire Academy and Bloodlines. In this series, our female protagonist, Fei, and the rest of her village has been unable to hear for many decades. It’s been so long since the village has actually been able to hear, that having the gift of sound appears to be a myth. Their village conjures up no food from the land so Fei’s people dig up precious metals from their mines and daily, send them down on a zip line to their Line Keeper as they call him, for they have never actually seen the person. Whoever is at the other end, per the amount of metal they bring down, brings food back up.
This has been the norm for Fei and her people but slowly, her village starts to lose another vital sense. Their sight. Because of such happenings, work has been limited resulting in less food from the zip line. Fei and her people are plunged into a crisis with nothing more to look forward to but darkness and starvation. For the people of the village, this appears to be the new daily occurrences they would have to go through until, one night, while dreaming, Fei is awoken by noise. She wakes up with the ability to hear and throughout the novel, sound, becomes Fei’s ultimate weapon to save her people and her family. She sets out down the mountain, which no one has dared tried again because of the constant avalanches, to find the source of their problems and change the fate of her village.
Mead chose a very difficult subject to write about. An entire book based off of no sound. That may not sound like such a hard thing to do, but when one actually considers how sounds rule our world and how we as people place this gift into the art of writing stories, one can start to see why having sound in a novel is so important. I had my doubts at first. I had questions that arose in my mind. How will the character describe some things in detail if there is no sound? How will the audience be able to connect with the character if she doesn’t hear anything and everything is in her point of view?
I can’t say I was fully satisfied in everything that author had to offer, but the audience is able to imagine things in a new light. The characters in this story use their other senses more thoroughly since they have no hearing and we see, through the eyes of Fei, the wonders she finds in painting and colors for that loss. But because this subject is so difficult to write about if you are someone who can hear, writing about someone who cannot may make you leave some things out. I believe the audience was left with a lot of undescribed images. Specifically the world. Though the concept of this book was unique and intriguing, the audience is missing out on the world building of the place around Fei, where she travels, and the sights she sees. The descriptions are lost more and more when Fei starts to hear.
Though this is an unfortunate aspect of the novel, it does, however, give the readers a chance to experience the difficulty of hearing sound for the first time, which I believe Mead captured in great essence and it gives readers a chance to understand, to some degree, what people with the inability to hear must go through. So for those who wonder the experience, I believe this novel to be a good read, especially if world building does not bother you as much.