Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Release Date: October 16, 2012
(Thank you to ATWT for allowing me to participate on this tour!)
Published by: Farrar, Straus, Giroux BYR

Crewel (Crewel #1) by Gennifer Albin

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.

Ten Likes/Dislikes:

1. (+) Adelice, the protagonist - Adelice was a protagonist that I could admire. She was strong, smart, sarcastic. She knew how powerful she was, but she didn't cross into arrogance. It was refreshing to have someone who could take charge but still make mistakes. Oh, and believe me, she has her flaws (tends to assume things, gets into the love triangle which always makes "meh" about a heroine etc.), but when she makes mistakes, I sympathized the most with her (not like she doesn't make a mistake we all haven't made before - well, minus the love triangle). Those times, and when she was acting the smart ass to lighten the mood, made Adelice's perspective a treat to read from.
2. (+) World-building - The world was one of the most original ones I've read, and it definitely drives the story. Taking weaving, and making it into a power; creating a misogynous Mad Men like society where women can either be secretaries or Spinsters but regardless are beneath men, forced to make themselves up, to stay pure for a double standard that steals their control... Details of each are delved into deeply. The world unravels slowly--you're taken along with Adelice as she explores the new dynamic of her world. If you like detailed world-building and imagining where you'd fit in the society, this book is for you. What I took issue with was some of the sci-fi parts, particularly the way the Guild assumes control; that irked me as a neuroscientist and was also something that I had seen in other books.
3. (--) The Beginning - That being said, the beginning was almost overwhelming - it has so many details that it's hard to keep up with everything that happens in the first fifty pages. For example, Adelice tells us what a complant is but when it next appears--way later in the book--I couldn't remember what it was. Too many details at once, I think. Even now, I don't think I could explain everything.
4. (+/-) The Romance - Argh unnecessary love triangle! Neither romance felt fully developed. I liked that they both had clear stages--it wasn't really both romantic interests at once, and the girl feeling traitorous to the other guy etc. etc.--but having a love triangle in general overrode that. While I liked the idea of the protagonist being able to compare her experiences with each guy  and that she wasn't completely innocent/naive, I still wasn't a huge fan of this development. Furthermore, yeah, it's realistic in the sense that girls were segregated from boys, so Adelice would embrace different surroundings and experience the things that had been forbidden to her, but why is she really attracted to these boys anyways?  Their conversations seem more friendly than flirtatious at times.
5. (+) Functional Dystopia - By which I mean that the protagonist already knows from the start that there is something wrong with her world ... and you get to be there with Adelice as she shows exactly what is going wrong, and what elements are going to be fixed later. Sometimes I've found dystopian novels to be frustrating because it takes the hero(ine) way too long to realize the society is terrible. (That, and what makes that society remotely attractive? You have to have a plausible explanation there too, and I'll get to that about this book in just a bit.)
6. (+/-) Hints of Rebellion - I liked the hints of rebellion and knowing where the sequel would go, but I thought the former was frustrating. One of the characters says women were easier to control, and that's why this all happened / how the Guild assumed control etc. Though it doesn't really feel like the author or the MC encourage such misogyny, I still don't like this explanation. It just feels incomplete to say that when war arose, men took power over women, who do a lot of the work and who really should've risen up long ago.
7. (+) Antagonist - I liked how every character who was an antagonist was one who had a very clear reason for being so. It made them feel real. In general the character complexity in this book was impressive because I got the sense that each person was following his/her own motivations, and I wasn't sure what would happen next, what they would choose to do.
8. (+) The Writing - There were so many lines in this book that made me think: wow, beautiful imagery, or wow, that'd make a great quote! And they never once felt out of place - like Adelice was being too mature, too wry. The writing was perfect for the kind of social commentary and coming of age story being told.
9. (+) Pacing - You don't have a chance to put down this book. Constant action, constantly moving Adelice through her world and onto another adventure. Crewel is very good at playing with both anticipation and unpredictability.
10. (+) The Cover - You know, it took me the longest time to realize that there was a girl in the top right corner. I really like the way it reminds me of Mad Men, with the red lipstick. All the colors are beautiful, and the way they swirl is a nice way of hinting at the weaving.

Though I sometimes had trouble with all the details of the world-building, it still entranced me as much as Adelice herself. It will be interesting to see where Gennifer Albin will take the Crewel world and characters.


  1. I was in love this book from my first glance at the cover. The synopsis made it EVEN BETTER and your review just iced the cake. I will be reading this. And probably buying it in paperback. Because it's so pretty! Great choice. Sad about the love triangle (how I loathe them), but everything else sounds great and so original!


  2. Loved this book! I agree with the love triangle, it would have been perfect just to have the love interest be Jost but Erik is charming so why not! Great review!

  3. I just read this book and finished it in two days, I couldn't put it down! It was amazing. The writing was beautiful and the ENDING wow. Left me wanting more! I loved the way Arra's was built over Earth, great idea. I totally agree about the romance thing though, it felt very rushed and unbelievable. She just seemed to go from meeting them to loving/liking them. It was a bit hard to catch on to everything at first, as I felt like I was thrown into everything immediately. I didn't get the whole weaving thing for the first fifty pages, haha. Definitely a great read!


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