|I received this advanced copy from Penguin’s First to Read and could not be happier.
Soundless follows the story of a young woman named Fei Jing who works as an artist in an alternative universe where an Asian mountain community is all deaf. This community must rely on the towns down from them for food, since their own climate is inhospitable, and they trade it for metal that they mine.
The story starts when Fei’s sister begins losing her eyesight, which has been afflicting select people in the community. The loss of sight has been making them send less metals to the town below, which results in less food coming back to them. Fei makes a shocking discovery about herself, and together with her childhood sweetheart Li Wei, embarks on a journey to the bottom of the mountain to save her village.
I loved the whole concept behind this book, but the inequality narrative was a little heavy handed. It made the twists a little more expected, and it simplified an otherwise complex and interesting plot.
My other issue with this book was the lack of Chinese folklore and tradition that it was marketed with. I was really wishing for a heavier presence, and got a decent novel that in all honesty could have been set anywhere.
Soundless also employs the first person present tense, which usually bothers me. However, Mead employs it relatively flawlessly, so it was less of a bother.
The tentative romance between Fei and Li was very adorable and well-written, not overpowering in the plot but a good foil for the characters’ personalities. While it is a little frustrating to read as an adult, I found it to be entirely age-appropriate for a younger reader.
I would recommend this to most young readers, especially girls. A quick and fun read, completely original. Three out of Five waves!