Written by Beth Winters
I was not sure what to expect when I began reading "Soundless," as it is considered a stand-alone fantasy, but for the most part, I ended up enjoying it. I have read almost everything written by Richelle Mead, so I found it unusual that "Soundless" is a one-off book rather than a series. Regardless, Mead successfully packs an interesting story into only 272 pages.
At first I was skeptical about how the premise of "Soundless" would work. A whole book in which all main characters are deaf? How can the dialogue be portrayed if everyone can only communicate using sign language? A one-off story plus a very pared down page count, at least for Mead? Mead was able to address these questions throughout her book.
"Soundless" started off slowly, granted Mead’s books usually do. Since "Soundless" presents a completely new world (as opposed to the "Vampire Academy" and "Bloodline" world), there is some serious building of the setting in the first 50 pages. It is a little hard to follow the description of the town the main character lives in. More than once, I wished the book included a map of the village to help with visualization.
There is also a lot of detail and backstory that could be better explained to allow readers to understand the village members’ situation, how their situation came to be and how they cope. I will not spoil anything, but the main theme is explained in a very non-paranormal way.
Yes, the book has adventure, and as is Mead’s trademark talent, I found myself having to read the last 150 pages in one sitting because that is where the majority of the action takes place. Regardless, I found the main character only so-so. Sometimes she is likable, sometimes she is not. Sometimes she is brave and able to face her fears, sometimes she is super whiney.
One of the brave moments occurs when the protagonist saves her sister (from what I will not tell), but the sister is upset about it afterwards—what? Seriously, the sister is quite ungrateful. I am glad there are not too many scenes with the sister present. Though I ended up liking the sister-sister relationship overall, I was not crazy about the portrayal of the main character’s sibling.
An interesting consideration did not occur to me until I read "Soundless." What happens if you and everyone around you have always been unable to hear others and then suddenly obtain the ability to hear? With no one to teach you how to understand words, everything must seem a garbled mess. It is interesting to see how the main character fares in this exact situation.
Overall, this book is simply OK. I recommend it to people who like Mead's work, unique storylines and fantasy.
Author: Richelle Mead
Publication date: November 10, 2015
Page count: 272
List price: $19.99
Book type: Advanced Reader’s Copy from BEA
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