Review: “Crewel” by Gennifer Albin

Title: “Crewel”

Author: Gennifer Albin

Genre: YA, fantasy, speculative fiction, wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey stuff, paranormal

Publication Date: October 16, 2012 (North America – FSGBYR/Macmillan)

Source: NetGalley review copy/Publisher-provided Review Copy

Summary: 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.

☆: 4.5/5 stars – one of the best of 2012, most definitely!

Review: “Wow” doesn’t cover how much I’ve fallen in love with this book and this world, or how I felt when I finished the last page. One of the best of 2012 by far and absolutely gorgeous, “Crewel” takes us to a parallel world where everything is tightly controlled (for our own good, of course), and where things aren’t always as they seem. If you’re looking for one of the most original books in YA in the past few years, look no further – “Crewel” is definitely the book for you.

You can’t trust your eyes or your memories in Arras, and I love stories that have the potential to turn pretty much anyone (especially our protagonist) into an unreliable narrator. If you’ve been reading the blog for awhile, you’ll know that I’m very into worldbuilding no matter the genre (even contemporary books need a bit of it), and that one of my most coveted tenets of top-shelf worldbuilding is that the characters and the world weave into each other and feed off of each other. In “Crewel”, this is literally the case. The world of Arras is literally WOVEN by the Spinsters – women with the supernatural ability to mess with time and space. Now, while they have power, unfortunately, like any good dystopia, it’s the dudes that have power over THEM. I loved the hierarchy and structuring of the government of Arras. Albin puts out the rules of the world fairly quickly – you can have so many kids, the neighborhoods are divided by gender and so forth. Albin sticks with these rules pretty steadily throughout the book – until the plot twists start.

And everything I’d wanted in the “Matched” series? “Crewel” has fulfilled and beaten it out by a mile or more. Yes, it really is that awesome. Albin is fearless when it comes to the content of her book, and ruthless when it comes to killing her darlings repeatedly to get the desired emotional payoff. There are no hesitations in this book, there are no places where you can feel the writer hit the wall. It unfurls smoothly, even in the rockiest of places in the individual character arcs and mail plot (and especially where the two collide).

The characters are awesome – Adelice is a wonderful protagonist who kicks ass, takes names, and basically thumbs her nose at the system – but not without severe cost. She learns the cruel (no pun intended) truths behind what keeps Arras and its people alive, as well as how the world itself came to be by some of the most awesome villains in fantasy/dystopian (or paranormal dystopian) that I’ve read so far this year. You want to hate them, but at the end of the day, with some of them, you just can’t make yourself once you find out their reasons for being, well, evil. I love hateable characters and Albin isn’t afraid to make those characters in the traditional mustache-curling villanous way.

What I could have done without (and why this isn’t a straight-up five star book) is the love triangle. I can see why Albin did it, and how it works well with the story, but guys, I’m love-triangle’d out regardless if it’s MG, YA, NA (New Adult), or Adult. I’m done. However, this love triangle was easier to swallow because of how it sets up everything for book two. Which I really, really, really want. Like, yesterday.

But, final verdict? If you’re a fan of fantasy, paranormal, or dystopian books (or a mix of all three), you simply must check this book out. Hell, even if you’re not a fan, check it out anyway. “Crewel” will be out October 16, 2012 from Macmillan in North America, so be sure to go out and find a copy. You will most definitely get lost in this world. Its place on my best of 2012 is very well-deserved, and I just need that second book now!


2 thoughts on “Review: “Crewel” by Gennifer Albin

  1. Pingback: usagi’s challenges for 2012! | birth of a new witch.

  2. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves: Week 18 | birth of a new witch.

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