Crewel (Crewel World) by Gennifer Albin
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Ages 12 and up
October 16, 2012; 368 pages
What a tangled world she weaves...
For generations, Spinsters have been called by Arras’s Manipulation Services to work the looms and determine what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die. Gifted with the rare ability to weave time with matter, Adelice is exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in 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 once you become a Spinster, there is no turning back. Now caught in a web of lies and intrigue, Adelice must decide who to trust: her kind mentor, Enora; the handsome and mysterious valet Jost; or the charismatic Guild ambassador Cormac Patton. They each have secrets, but Adelice is about to unravel the deadliest one of all, a sinister truth that could destroy reality as she knows it.
In a powerful and original debut about a world where the Guild decides everything, one extraordinary girl dares to defy the power of men and the boundaries of love.
(Book description from Amazon.com)
Two Reviews, Two Perspectives - One Book
I'm pleased to bring you the first of what I hope will be many guest reviews. Sharing her thoughts on this new YA novel is Naomi C. Naomi is an avid reader, a huge fan of dystopian fiction, and a teenager - making her the target audience for this book. I am also an avid reader but have only just begun to dabble in dystopia and of course I haven't been a teen for a few years (ok, lots of years...). I thought that it would be interesting to see how the book impacted each of us. Let's take a look.
Crewel is about a world called Arras, which strives and goes on living due to the weavings and threads of time. All food, weather and even when babies come or when people die is decided by the Spinsters. Spinsters are the girls who are picked out from all the other girls their age when they become 16. Only a few of these girls have the Calling, or the ability to weave the fabrics of time. They are trained and given special ranks when they arrive at the Guild of Twelve, the empowering and frightening government, and only a handful - not usually more than 3 or so - will actually become Spinsters. But, the few that do are given their ranks and jobs. Whether they are weaving food for proportions, weather or the horrifying injustice of ripping (ending someone's thread or pure life), they are basically controlling the world, but they are also controlled by those higher up the ranking scale.
In Crewel, Adelice has to battle her way through life as a Spinster. She's probably the only girl who doesn't want to (and her family doesn't want her to) be a Spinster. You never get to see home again, even if it does give you more freedom and beauty in a world where women are regarded as lesser and children of the opposite sex don't meet until after Spinster training when the Courtship Appointments begin. She must find allies in a new world where her greatest enemy, Maela, is in a higher position, for now. Bit there's still her special talent that no one else knows about, until her mentor Enora catches her doing it. Does Adelice really have the power to be a Creweler? And what does that even mean?
Crewel was an amazingly awesome book. I couldn't put it down. It is full of adventure and excitement and a battle of mind. Adelice is the perfect character for this book because she brings out the way people on Earth would feel about her conflicts. I would recommend this book for teens. It's a bit ruthless for younger ages, and adults might get board with it, but some grown ups would definitely enjoy it.
It was Naomi's mom who suggested that I give this book a try. Not because of the genre, but because of the weaving aspect and how that might appeal to my fiber obsession. First of all I was entranced by the cover. The art work is simply stunning. Next, the cover description drew me in. The idea that everything in the world is literally woven together across the lines of time fascinated me and I just had to see where the author was going to take this idea.
In the beginning I did struggle with some of the terminology, and I wasn't sure exactly when or where the world of Arras existed. As I read on things became more clear. I found that if I just let go and allowed the story to happen instead of trying to define the facts I was able to understand what was going on. I also had to stop applying my knowledge of crewel (the needle work) which is more like embroidery that's done on top of fabric that has already been woven. Then I really started to enjoy the adventure.
Adelice has the makings of a good heroine. In the beginning she is naive and gullible. Having been protected and taught by her parents to conceal her true nature it makes sense that she is tentative when thrust into the life of a Spinster. (Another word I had trouble with since I kept envisioning unmarried little old ladies with lots of cats...) It doesn't take long for her to realize that things are not as they seem, and that the Guild is as powerful and evil as her parents had feared. If she is to survive she must learn quickly who to trust, and how to use the unique spinning power she has.
I found that I was intrigued by the descriptions of the weave. How the strands of time run on way and everything - all the necessities (food, clothing, shelter, weather) and even life itself, are woven across it. In my head I could visualize the looms as the author described them. I could image what it would be like to hold the shimmering threads that pulse with energy between my fingers. And how each of these threads that are so fragile and vulnerable on their own become strong and stable when worked together to create the fabric. The weave is quite complex and for me, is one of the best parts (it could even be called a character) in the book. I also enjoyed Loricel, the Creweler who is one of the strongest (and oldest) females characters.
I was completely taken in by this book. I found myself absorbed into the world of Arras reading late into the night to find out what the Guild had in store for Adelice and if the weave itself would survive. There's good and evil, young love, time travel, illusions, corrupt government, friendships, alliances and one girl who has the power to effect it all. I knew this was part of a series when I started, and the ending ensures that I will read book two as soon as it's available so I can find out what happens next!
Together we say:
Crewel gets two thumbs up from both of us. There are different things that appealed to each of us, but overall the story telling is well done and that's what's important no matter how old you are!
I'd like to thank Naomi for sharing her review with us. If any of you are interested in being a guest reviewer please let me know. I'd love to hear your ideas. You can leave me a note in the comment section, use the form on the About Me page or send me an email. Don't be shy!
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