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.


Skulls 2.5


Have you ever been mislead by a book’s originality?

About Zoe

Zoe is a critical reviewer. When she’s not reviewing, you can find her performing in plays / musicals, doing gymnastics, or designing websites.

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14 thoughts on “Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

  1. Uh oh. I have that on standby to read soon. I’m not feeling an overwhelming desire to read that as quickly as I had been. Also, I love that you called her a “special snowflake”. Lol.


  2. I had the same issue! I met Albin right after Altered was published, and bought both the books that night. I finally read Crewel, and struggled SO much with it. I loved the concept, but the love triangle really killed me, especially when the connection between the two guys was pretty obvious.


  3. I had this on to-read, I think for a long time now, but I never really bothered on actually getting it. I don’t know why, I guess my brain is saying this book wouldn’t be worth it. I hope you’re next read would be better


  4. Typical dystopian? I’m going to have to avoid this one. I think I’ve had my fair share of the “special snowflake”, “reused baddie government”, lack of plausibility–or at the very least, I’ve met my quota for this year. It’s a shame that this one didn’t work out for you, Zoe. BUT THANK YOU FOR THE HONEST AND FABULOUS REVIEW <33 x


  5. Oh, this book. I was so disappointed with it — and I’ve agreed with everything you’ve said. It was definitely a typical dystopia, so much so that I haven’t even bothered to pick up the sequel yet. I think it was the love triangle that irritated me the most. The concept was great, but the characters and execution just fell horribly flat. Great review! :)


  6. Dystopians a difficult genre because once you read one dystopian you’ve read them all. They are all far too alike so a books got to really offer up something different or something that sticks out for it to stick out and get tons of love. Unfortunetly this one just seems too typical for me and I feel like I’ve already read it before. Oh well! Hopefully your next read is more enjoyable Zoe. Great review :)


  7. Uh-oh, a special snowflake and a love triangle. The joy! :/ Yeah, don’t think I’d like this at all. I don’t mind love triangles (depending on the characters) but ugh. Totally agree though, it is so hard to actually find a unique dystopian that stands out, okay they do all follow the same structure, but they can still make it unique (which it sounds like it has to an extent) but it’s exactly why I can’t read too many dystopian’s since it’s just read, repeat, read, repeat. :(


  8. You’re totally right Zoe, I’ve heard plenty of raves about this one but at the end of the day, we’re all looking for dystopian reads that actually stand out from the norm. At least the world in this one was interesting. Lovely review!


  9. I really hate having to write a negative review for a book that I was expecting to adore, especially when I’ve interacted with the author on a personal level. It hurts my heart. Still, I appreciate you telling it like it is even though it pained you to do so. Sometimes being a reviewer sucks.


  10. I’m sad it didn’t live up to expectations for you, Zoe. :( I actually was confused with the cover for a second there…but it’s look down at a girl’s face, right?! heh. I went cross-eyed for a minute, but I DO love the colours. I think it’s really hard for dystopians to stand out at the moment. I’m like 98% tired of them. Unless, they’re written by Marissa Meyer, except I think her’s are more sci-fi. xD


  11. Ah well, it’s been a while since I have seen this one around but I remember how popular it was. So yeah i assume if I had read it years ago that maybe I’d even enjoy it, but now I don’t think I can handle love triangles and the same old government issues. So yeah, but still glad it was unique. Great review, Zoe :)


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