Crewel by Gennifer Albin
Published by Faber & Faber
3 out of 5 stars
Summary – Crewel is the story of Adelice, a 16 year old girl that has the ability to weave time and matter, a fantastic talent, yet in Adelice’s world that power makes you a spinster, and despite the spinster life calling to Adelice (comfort, luxury, security), her parents train her every day to ensure she keeps her talent a secret at the compulsory testing age 16. But Adelice lets ego get the better of her, and wants to prove to the other girls on the testing that she CAN weave, and makes a tiny mistake resulting in her being revealed as a very powerful spinster. Her parents try to help her run, but fail, and Crewel is the story of Adelice’s journey into the spinster world, where nothing is black and white, few can be trusted and she learns exactly what she can, and can’t, do with her powers. Adelice is extremely talented and its not long before she is noticed for all the wrong reasons, by her superiors, the Creweler (the boss, really) and the ambassador. Adelice finds out the secrets of her world, and faces a choice that will rock that world, one way or another.
Ok, so here’s a book which is loved by many of my friends, followers, GR buddies etc. I am going against the grain with my 3 stars, and even more so when I admit to considering making it a 2.5.
Well firstly there is the cover, I was really drawn to the cover above, its so pretty, it was even on my ‘best covers’ list. Yet when the book arrives I get the boring old UK cover (below) with a plain, yet individual girl on it. I HATE it when books have a character on the cover that is anything other than ordinary, it puts a picture into your mind for the character, rather than letting you build your own. Now I’ve not taken any marks off for the cover, but it did annoy me, and put me in a bad mood before I even started.
There is nothing wrong with Crewel, at least I can’t think of anything, maybe as I write I’ll start pin pointing things. The world is very clever, it took me a little while to get my head around it, perhaps a better explanation of the spinsters and the matter that they weave would have been beneficial, as it felt like I was always one step behind. The dystopian society is a bog standard, off the shelf, model – a ruling power, controlling and oppressing the minions, with a small rebellion starting, which ultimately tries to draw the lead character in. Maybe that was the problem here, with such a clever premise, there was major laziness when the rest of the world was concerned, nothing original or even repackaged.
Adelice was a simpering idiot, thats not a bad thing really, as it helped to build her, it made a change from the usual female leads, but she was hard to like for that reason, she was incredibly self-absorbed, and unaware of the attitude and airs she appeared to be giving off. I do wonder why she had so many admirers, there was nothing on the paper that was appealing, yet they were all over her. Jost and Eric were interesting, but once again, as is the pattern in YA fiction, the twist was obvious, annoying and again lazy.
The last third of the book, saved it from the 2.5 stars, the pace quickened, and the story really took off, but the scene building in the first two thirds was dreary in places, and there was little sense of time given to the reader, I have no idea if the events took place over days, weeks, months….
As I said, I’m in the minority here, and thats fine. I ‘got’ the idea, and its a good take on a dystopian, the time weaving particularly clever, but I just didn’t buy into the book. So my suggestion for those thinking about reading it is: Read it if you like mainstream YA fiction, its a good read, and most like it. But don’t read it if you are someone that likes your YA fiction quirky, this for me was anything but.