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A Reader of Fictions: A Hazy Shade of Winter - Simon & Garfunkel

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Hazy Shade of Winter - Simon & Garfunkel

Crewel World, Book 1

Author: Gennifer Albin
Pages: 357
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BFYR
Publication Date: October 16, 2012
Source: Macmillan at BEA

Description from 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 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.

First Sentence: "They came in the night."

Oh dear. I seem to be in a bad string of reads, where all the ones I've been looking forward to turn out to be utter disappointments. Crewel has a beautiful cover and a unique plot line, but I did not connect with it emotionally at all. The romance aspects particularly lost me. For other readers, I am sure this will be a great read, particularly those who read for world building over character.

The very best part of Crewel is, without a doubt, the world building. Adelice lives in Arras, a mysterious fantasy land. The Guild runs Arras in conjunction with Spinsters, so named because they are not allowed to wed. At 16, girls are tested to see if they have the skills to become a Spinster, a weaver of the threads that compose Arras, the tapestry of life. Those that are chosen never get to go home again. Those that aren't have two years to wed and begin their adult lives.

The concept of a woven world really kind of blew my mind. Really, it's a lot like the internet in that, on the surface, I get it, but the more I think about it the less I understand. The descriptions of the weaving and the threads are lovely, as is Albin's writing. Towards the end, I had some suspension of disbelief issues, but I still would rate this as one of the most unique worlds I've encountered.

So far as dystopian-ness goes, Crewel certainly qualifies. Arras is one hell of a creepy place. For one thing, there's the whole forcing women to do certain things: become a Spinster, wed, and all sorts of other misogynistic rules. Women always seem to get the short end of the stick in dystopias; I should go read Herland or Nomansland. Even more than the dystopians aspects to the daily life, the government, both the Guild side and the Spinster side is seriously suspect. Both seem far to apt to make people disappear, if you get my drift.

Despite all of that being seriously cool, I just did not care. Adelice (what kind of name is that anyway) really doesn't seem to have that much of a personality. We start with the dramatic removal of her to be a Spinster, no visions of her on a normal day. All I really feel like I know about her is that a) she's a skilled weaver b) she loves her family and c) she likes boys. None of this really let me know anything about who she is. What I do pick up from that last one really doesn't make me think kindly of her either.

The worst aspect of the book, imo, is the love triangle. Of course, love triangles are dangerous, because, when done wrong, they make the reader want to *headdesk* all over the place. Well, this one did not work for me, probably partially because I really didn't care if the heroine found happiness. Not only that, but I don't have much more interest in either of the guys involved in the triangle. I suspect that I'm supposed to ship her with Jost (these names!), and he is the 'better' guy, but meh. Erik (what did he do to get a normal name?) probably would be my choice if I had to pick one, just because he seems like the underdog. The moment I entirely gave up on this was this: at the end of one chapter, Adelice makes out with one of the guys, then, in the next chapter, she finds out the other guy had a romantic past and got jealous. *throws up hands* And, of course, anytime she seems close to making a decision, based on syrupy protestations of needing to be with one of the guys, she'll suddenly start thinking maybe she's not so sure.

The most interesting characters were not the main ones. Loricel is my personal favorite. She's clever, kooky and has shades of grey to her personality. Maela and Cormac make stellar villains, of different kinds and powers. I definitely want to throw both of them across Arras. Cormac seriously creeps the hell out of me, which is a good sign in a villain.

Crewel was not the book for me, and I don't plan to continue with this series, unless I see reviews that convince me otherwise by other people who felt meh about this one. Will you like it? Maybe. If you read more for world building than for characters, you could potentially love Crewel.

Favorite Quote: "If there's one thing the Coventry has taught me, it's that lying always serves someone's purpose."

"Hang on to your hopes, my friend.
That's an easy thing to say but if your hopes should pass away,
It's simply pretend, that you can build them again.
Look around, the grass is high, the fields are ripe,
It's the springtime of my life.
Oh, seasons change with scenery,
Weaving time in a tapestry,
Won't you stop and remember me?

Remember: Every comment on a post during Dystopian August is an entry to win one of fourteen dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels IF you've filled out the form from this post.

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Blogger Nori said...

The story just sounds so interesting! I think I will still read it because I love the ideas of weaving...It's so Tamora Pierce, like the younger grade Tamora Pierce books that weren't quite as good, but I still have read a few times. I just wish the main character sounded more interesting. A boring main character is the worst!

August 18, 2012 at 12:07 AM  
Blogger Lynn K. said...

Ouch, this doesn't look good. Crewel is/was high on my list of anticipated reads but the issues you pointed out would probably bother me a lot. For me, world building takes a second place to characters. =/

August 18, 2012 at 4:03 AM  
Blogger Lilian said...

Ah, Simon and Garfunkel! I love them to bits.

I liked the colors and the abstract quality of Crewel's cover, but I never knew what it was about (I thought it was Greek mythology when I read the synopsis). And is the cover supposed to be a flower? Because I keep thinking it's a nose every time I see it. *rubs eyes*

"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."
I would be interested. And weave myself a life in Beverly Hills.

"Erik (what did he do to get a normal name?)"
Ha! I think the author is trying to make you remember her characters easily. No chance you'd forget a name like Jost.

I always though it was a standalone, but I guess not.

Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

August 18, 2012 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger aLilLacey said...

I got lost with just the goodreads summary. And yes the cover would have caught my i so I'm glad you subjected yourself to the book so the reedy of us wouldn't have to go through with it. Ha. Thanks for your reviews!

August 19, 2012 at 12:58 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I totally thought of those too, but I didn't mention it because I only read the first one before I gave up on the series, so I don't know much. lol.

Maybe you'll like her more?

August 19, 2012 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

You can always give it a try and stop if you're not liking it. :/

August 19, 2012 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yay! They're one of my all-time favorites.

The cover is pretty. There's a nose on the model's face... I don't know if the swirly colors are supposed to mean anything. They may just be the colors of the weaving. The more I look at it, the odder the cover gets.

Yeah! I'm all for that.

I'm pretty sure I could forget a name like Jost.


August 19, 2012 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

The world building is really excellent, but this book just is not for everyone.

August 19, 2012 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger Lilian said...

Nobody sings like them anymore! Nor does anyone write lyrics like them (the only poetry I can get myself to read.) Maybe people need to take away all the digital equipment and sing in abandoned stairwells again.

"There's a nose on the model's face"
I sure hope so. We wouldn't want a Voldemort scaring people on the cover.

I wonder if she could spin the lives of her enemies or her peers. I know if I could, that girl who stole my crayon in Kindergarten would not be very pleased...
Yes, I hold decade-long grudges.

"I'm pretty sure I could forget a name like Jost."
Fine. If I ever write a novel, I will be sure to bang my head on the keyboard to come up with names. You'd never forget a name like Oiflsd or Dheoif, courtesy of banging my head on the keyboard (ok not really, that would make me look like an idiot, but I banged random keys with my fingers).

August 19, 2012 at 5:42 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I also love Paul Simon solo. He's just the cutest.

BAHAHAHA. Right. I wasn't sure if that was the nose in question or if you thought you saw one in the swirlies.

I think she COULD, but she wouldn't do that kind of thing. This may be why I didn't identify with her. I would get the kid who broke one of my toy horses.

They sounds like dwarf names.

August 20, 2012 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger Zemira said...

I was thinking about pre-ordering this one but now I'm not so sure. :(

August 28, 2012 at 3:16 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Depends what you like. Giselle of Xpresso Reads really liked it, so maybe check out her review?

August 28, 2012 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Lilian said...

I think that's the nose I mean. But I'm not sure since I can't even see any of the model's other features. (if there is indeed a model)

"I would get the kid who broke one of my toy horses."
YEAH! THAT'S WHAT NORMAL PEOPLE DO!...or are we just abnormally evil?

"They sounds like dwarf names."
Must be how Tolkien did it!

August 29, 2012 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Jaime Lester said...

I am so disappointed that you didn't enjoy Crewel. I have been looking forward to this one for a while. And the cover really is so pretty. It is so disappointing when the insides just don't match the outsides. Sigh!

August 29, 2012 at 11:46 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

There is a model. Her lips and eyelashes are SUPER EASY TO SEE. Do we need to get you some glasses?

SO WHAT NORMAL PEOPLE DO. I actually think we're the normal ones on this issues, because the other girls in her Spinster class were not bothered by removing things/people.


August 30, 2012 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Well, there are definitely good elements to Crewel. You could still like it. I would definitely recommend giving it a go and seeing if you like the beginning.

August 30, 2012 at 9:39 AM  
Blogger Alessandra said...

Adelice. Wow. Maybe she was named after her grandmas: Adele and Alice!
Hahaha, sort of like Renesme.

I don't know if I want to read this book. Some aspects seem very appealing, some others a bit less.

August 31, 2012 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

BAHAHA, omg, now that sounds like a Twilight name and I just don't even. Awful. I would hate my parents SO much.

You can always try it and stop if you don't like it? Though I don't know what your options are for borrowing YA books in Italy. :/

August 31, 2012 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

.........you know only 5 seconds ago I was so sure you were lying to me. And I was all like "WHAT?LIPS? EYELASHES? WHERE?? There;s nothing that even resembles lips unless you count that pink swirlie!!!"...then the RED lips clicked and for the first time, I SAW THE MODEL. Now I can't unsee it.

But what I THOUGHT was the nose was actually her entire face, since it was sideways.

September 8, 2012 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Whoa. You really couldn't see it? O_O

September 10, 2012 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Lilian said...

I always thought her red lips was a petal, or part of the swirlie....

September 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM  

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