|TITLE: Crewel SERIES: Crewel World #1|
AUTHOR: Gennifer Albin
PUB DATE: 10/16/12
PUB: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
FORMAT: eARC SOURCE: Netgalley
Incapable. Awkward. Artless. That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail. Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested. Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape. Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.
THREE WORDS: Innovative & Lovely World-Building (yes it is one word!)
MY REVIEW: Gennifer Albin's Crewel really surpassed any expectations I had when I started reading it and surprised me with its rich and lovely complexity and world-building.
In the world of Arras, time is weaved and manipulated by the Spinsters, and being a Spinster is a coveted role because it comes with beauty, privilege, and power. Young girls dream of being a Spinster, but Adelice Lewys is trained by her parents to fail the weaving test. Adelice isn't interested in the isolation or strict rules that come with Spinster life. But her Spinster abilities are strong and she accidentally weaves a moment during testing and when they come from her the results are deadly. Adelice quickly finds herself under the strict rule and watch of the Guild and living amongst other Spinsters, and her powerful abilities don't go unnoticed by those in charge. Secrets, revolutions, loyalties, and romances begin to unravel around Adelice and she must learn to harness and use her abilities or risk those she loves.
On the surface, Crewel is a familiar and basic dystopian story with fantasy elements (a young, but powerful heroine, must rise to the occasion to overthrow a corrupt government and save the world), but what sets Crewel apart is Albin's innovation and imagination. The world of Spinsters who literally weave time and manipulate matter, controlling the weather, reproduction, and even life itself, is captivating in its originality and quite lovely in its rich, complexity and layers. I fell into this world easily and I think a part of me is still in there. Albin weaves (see what I did there?!) a smart, riveting story full of the unexpected and intriguing.
For the most part, the world-building is fantastic, with lush vividness and complete, realistic layers. But, despite Albin's impressive writing and storytelling, this isn't always an easy world to comprehend or follow. I did find myself a bit overwhelmed and confused at times by the sheer amount of complexity and intricacy of this world. This isn't a story that can be merely skimmed, it demands keen attention and thought, but is well worth it.
The characters in Crewel were mostly either hits or misses with me, Adelice being the exception. I have a love/hate relationship with Adelice. She isn't what I would call a remarkable heroine, but she is relatable. I like her feisty snarkiness and adventurous curiosity, but at times her characterization seems awkward or inappropriate for the situation she is in. There are several characters that could be called the “villain”, and while these characters are certainly ruthless; cruel; creeptastic, and diabolical, I hope they up the vile villainy in the next book.
There is a bit of a love triangle *sigh*, which I could have done without, but Adelice clearly has stronger, more real feelings for one male love interest, and the romantic elements don't dominate the whole story. And I liked each love interest, but for different reasons. Erik is a charmer with plenty of secrets up his sleeve, and I like that I wasn't sure of his loyalties or motivations; a wild card can be fun. And Jost *fangirl squee*, I couldn't help but fall for this witty, sweet guy...GO TEAM JOST!
Albin threw some twists at me that had me all WHAT THA WHAT NOW?! And the ending certainly left me reeling and excited (and desperate) for book two. It also left me with so many thinks and feels! (I haz theories y'all)
MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Crewel has its flaws and weak spots, but overall it really won me over. The innovative, thought-provoking world-building and Albin's ability to weave a lovely and captivating story wowed me greatly and kept me enamored from beginning to beyond the end. This is a fantastic debut and I will be eagerly awaiting the sequel!
Gennifer Albin holds a Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Missouri. During her student years she served as an editor for Pleaides and The Missouri Review, and since then she’s founded the tremendously popular blog theconnectedmom.com. She lives in Kansas with her ridiculously supportive husband, two small children, and a Tuesday cat.