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Soundless by Richelle Mead | Sub-par At Best, Problematic At Worst

Monday, August 01, 2016 Geraldine 0 Comments

The Breakdown

General Info:
     Title: Soundless 
     Author: Richelle Mead
     Genre: YA, Fantasy 
     Publisher: Razorbill
     Publishing Date: November 10th, 2015

          - The concept was original
          - Writing simple to read 

    Things that could have been better:
         - The characters were 2D 
         - Concept execution was poor 
         - Illogical events 
         - Appropriation of Chinese culture

Rating: 1.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon

Initial Thoughts

I absolutely loved Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series. I read it in 2012, because my friends were reading it, and I pretty much binge-read it because it was just so good. When I heard that Mead was publishing a book that had Asian influences - I was super excited! After all, my heritage is Malaysian-Chinese, so I was really excited to dive into Soundless. 

In a village without sound…

For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom. 

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation.

One girl hears a call to action…

Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon.

She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever…

And unlocks a power that will save her people.


The characters were really two-dimensional. Fei was driven solely for her love for her sister. Whilst admirable - there was nothing much that really defined Fei as a character to me. 

The main couple in the books weren't shippable to me - they had absolutely no spark, no chemistry. It felt like they were just smooshed together, with no common ground between the two. Pretty much, it was like tokenism, but with romance, if that makes sense? Having a main couple in there, just to have romance. 

In general, the characters were forgettable - writing this review now, I've actually forgotten most of the character names, and their attributes. But maybe that's just me...

I also found the character depictions to be problematic. I was hoping for some representation in Soundless, but honestly, if you replaced the character names with Western names, the book would still flow as smoothly as if you had done nothing. All that makes this book 'diverse' is the character names. There is nothing else that really depicts a Chinese culture, and it was appropriation of Chinese culture.


The world didn't make sense to me, despite its originality. There are different classes of people in the world that Mead constructs in Soundless - the most important of which are artists and the least valued are miners. Artists get preferential treatment - miners are generally left hanging for scraps. However, miners work more and are critical towards maintaining the economy of the world. This contrast in value and necessity just didn't make sense to me. In our world, we have doctors who are paid more (generalisation, sorry!), and that's because they are essential towards maintaining the health of the population. Essentially, with Mead's world, doctors are less valued than painters. And to me, that didn't make sense.

Writing Style

Mead's writing is clear-cut as it was in Vampire Academy. Simple to read and easy to follow writing, that is Mead's talent. I would have thought it would be hard to depict communications between people who don't speak, and use hand gestures to communicate, but Mead manages it somehow. Despite this, this unique trait is diminished with the way that Mead presents it. It's difficult to explain, but Mead writes as if the characters are speaking to each other normally, which diminishes the uniqueness of having non-speaking characters. 

There's nothing that stands out with the writing - no wonderful quotes, no lyrical phrases, nothing. Just simple, easy to follow writing. 

Entertainment Value 

I had to force myself to read Soundless. It just didn't entertain me very much, because I found it problematic, filled with appropriation 

Final Thoughts

The only thing that was bearable about Soundless was perhaps Mead's writing style. As I've stated time and time before, the characters make or break a book for me, and in Soundless, the characters were subpar at best.The cover is gorgeous - but as we all know, we shouldn't judge books by their cover, and it is certainly the case with Soundless. 


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