on November 10th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic
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Set in China
For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from being 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.
Fei lives in a small village on the top of a mountain. Generations ago the passes through the mountains were blocked by avalanches cutting off the village from the land below. The village survives by mining metals and sending them down the mountain on a small zip line. Food is sent up in return. It is hardly enough to keep the village fed and the amounts that are being sent up are getting smaller.
No one can go down the mountain because of avalanches. Everyone in the village is deaf so they can’t hear the rocks falling as they are repelling down. Now, people are starting to go blind also so something has to be done. When Fei mysteriously regains her hearing, she knows that she can guide a trip down the side of the mountain to the city below.
I liked the author’s description of how a town with only deaf residents would function. She also did a good job of trying to describe what it would be like to suddenly have a whole new sense that no one you know has ever had before.
Interacting with the outside world for the first time after the isolation of the mountain village was interesting. This book lost me a bit though at the end. I swear I’ve never said these words before in my life but I don’t think the fantasy elements of this story were necessary or helped the story. They don’t show up until the end and seem jarring to a story that was well grounded with scientific explanations for events.
It was like I was reading along and then:
It was very deus ex machina and not needed.
I was looking at some other reviews and noticed that there aren’t a whole lot of nice reviews about this one. A lot of those are done by people who DNFed it. I don’t get that. If you didn’t read the whole thing, you can’t complain that you don’t understand things that aren’t explained until after you quit reading it.
Some readers seem to think “world building” means “explain everything to me in one chapter right at the beginning so I understand how everything works and don’t have to figure it out as I go along.” I think of that as lazy reading.
Yes, the book isn’t as Chinese as it is touted as being except for the names and the calligraphy and the fantasy part at the end and I don’t know what people were expecting. People are complaining that it could have taken place anywhere like China is the most insanely different place that isn’t at all like anywhere else. It isn’t like people living in China run around pointing and yelling, “Oh look! That’s a Chinese person. There’s another one!” Were people expecting more stereotypes?
This is why I shouldn’t read reviews while I’m still writing mine. I go off on rants.
Take home message
Soundless is an okay way to spend a few hours. Don’t expect to be blown away but it isn’t as hideous as some other reviews make it sound.