Crewel by Gennifer Albin
published on October 16th, 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Young Adult | Dystopia
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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 to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. 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 used her hidden talent for a moment. 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 jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.
Because tonight, they’ll come for her.
Between the enormous amount of glowing reviews it has received and by the fact that I personally met the author and found her to be a very intelligent woman, I suppose you could say that I was expecting high things from Gennifer Albin’s Crewel. Unfortunately, however, I found it a bit mediocre and disappointing.
The premise of Crewel is one that, to me at least, was quite intriguing. The story is set in the futuristic world of Arras, where the Guild rules the world and control everyone’s daily lives – from how much food you receive, to your job, to your family.
Our protagonist Adelice has a secret: she can manipulate time and matter. She’s a Spinster. The government needs girls like her to help enforce society. If she turns herself in, she is destined for a life of luxury and happiness…but she’ll never see her family again. If she doesn’t…the Guild will find out eventually anyway.
With such a massive amount of Young Adult dystopians on the market
(we all know why…) it’s hard to find a dystopian story that stands out from the rest premise-wise as most dystopian stories follow a similar formula and plot-structure. However, I will say that the world Gennifer Albin has created in Crewel is both unique and intriguing; even if it is not technically perfect.
However, underneath that originality, at its core, is a dystopian government just like any other. There isn’t necessarily anything special or new about the controlling Guild that avid dystopian readers haven’t seen before. The backstory to the creation of Arras is described, but, sadly, that only left me with more questions about the plausibility of the world.
Character wise, this was typical of what you’d expect from a dystopian novel. Our protagonist Adelice is a bit of a special snowflake – she’s one of the most powerful Spinsters in Arras; and is intelligent, stubborn and “badass”. The supporting characters aren’t much better – their reactions felt illogical and unrealistic to me; especially the villains.
Succumbing to even more of the genre’s cliches, Crewel also has a love triangle.
While I appreciate that the love triangle was not quite as apparent as it is in some dystopian books, it still remained one of the main points of the story, and feeling indifferent to both Adelice and the two love interests didn’t help much in my case.
All in all, underneath the intriguing premise, unfortunately this is an overhyped case of same old, same old. Keertana’s review (which is brilliant by the way) lists a lot of the problems I had with the book, but reviews them in a bit more detail if you’re interested.
Have you ever been mislead by a book’s originality?
Zoe is a critical reviewer. When she’s not reviewing, you can find her performing in plays / musicals, doing gymnastics, or designing websites.