Book Review: Crewel

Synopsis according to Goodreads:
"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."

Crewel is a play on words, so I wanted to read it. Plus, the world-concept is rather cool, likening Fate to the threads on a loom. Very Clothos, Atropos, and Lachesis. Unfortunately, Albin misses the mark in so many aspects of the novel. Prepare yourself for the rant of the disappointed. 

The larger concept- that time and memory and lives can be manipulated- is almost an incidental background concept, and I was distracted by my disbelief that women with this kind of power could be under the heel of a dozen men.
Whom we never meet. 

I mean, I’m all for dystopian society concepts and all, but don’t present me with a world in which women are downtrodden, manipulated, and treated as second-class citizens, and then prove them all to be idiot sheep who are passive, shallow, and all think alike. 

Give me villains who are complex and justify their actions in chillingly understandable and relatable ways, not men who want to boff pretty women, speak like Snidely Whiplash, and all but twirl their mustaches. 

Give me heroines whose journey isn’t about picking the obviously correct path, but about picking a path that is grey, trusting their own gut instinct that it’s the right one, and occasionally being wrong but soldiering on. 

Give me romantic interests that aren’t special because they’re the lone non-asshole in the world of Bad Men, and have striking blue eyes, but because they have faith in our heroine even when she does not have faith in herself, and because they are autonomous but not cowed by an independent woman.

Don’t expect me to believe that our heroine has grown up in a world where women are treated that poorly, and manipulated, and kept down…and then make her sassy-mouthed (and only when the occasion warrants it). I don’t respect her for being witty (where would she learn this attitude? when does she ever display it? and why, when all it does is bring harm and no one she’s ever respected does this sort of thing?). 

Also: Conflict that arises from characters (who are presented as intelligent) suddenly blaming our heroine (for something she obviously did not do), without ever questioning the truth, to the point of physical violence? Not believable. And what about our heroine never being plagued by grief over the death of her family? Never being analytical about what the hell those torturing her actually want? Not even asking “what do you want from me”? She’s very clearly not as witty as you want her to be, nor as realistic as I want her to be. 

In short (er…long), I did not enjoy Crewel and was cruelly disappointed at its shoddy world-building, especially given such a nifty concept. And also at its poor characterization and pandering to established YA tropes without having its own voice. Skip this one.

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