Monday, October 29, 2012

ARC Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Publisher:  Farrar, Straus, and Giroux BYR
Publication Date:  October 16th, 2012

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.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

I have a tendency to judge books by their covers, or rather, to judge whether I want to read them by their covers.  I often don't read the synopsis until I've made my judgement, and sometimes, I don't even read it then.  That was how things went with Crewel.  It has a stunning, eye-catching cover, so I wanted to read it.  When I started reading it, I hadn't the foggiest idea what it was about, so all my expectations were based on the positive advance buzz I've heard about it.  Lots of people have really loved this book, so I figured I would too, and I was mostly right.  I really liked Crewel.  It wasn't mind-blowingly amazing like some of the books I've read this year (it was rather unfortunate for it that I read it on the heels of The Diviners by Libba Bray), but it was definitely an impressive debut that deserves many accolades.

Crewel takes place at some point in the future, after Earth as we know it, has been wiped out by war.  The world as the characters in this book know it, Arras, is made up entirely of threads woven from time and matter on great looms. Each person's very existence is manipulated by the Spinsters, the women who are able to "see" the "weave", and operate the looms.  The Spinsters are under the control of the Guild, the oppressive, male-dominated governing body of Arras, and are essentially slaves to it. Even so, it is the dream of most girls to become a Spinster, because from the outside, it looks like the most luxurious life imaginable.  The protagonist, Adelice, has always known she has the ability to become a Spinster, but her parents don't want that life for her, and train her from a young age to fail the test that all girls are given at age 16.  Adelice accidentally passes, and her abilities are revealed. She is taken to the Coventry to become a Spinster, against her will, and she finds out a great deal about the world she lives in, the secrets the Guild holds, and the remarkable ability she possesses, that goes far beyond that of an average, or even an above-average Spinster.  

I liked Adelice, even if she was a bit immature.  She never seemed to know when it was in her best interest to keep her mouth shut.  That said, her wit was refreshing.  She was a strong-minded, sharp character, and while she didn't "wow" me at first, she totally grew on me throughout the story.  I also liked the boys, Erik and Jost.  Both were, of course, swoon-worthy, but they were both smart and cunning as well.  I happen to think that they both fell for Adelice a bit too quickly, but what's a YA novel without a love triangle?  I thought Maela and Cormac were perfect villains, and I think Pryana has a lot of potential to be so in future books.  I loved Enora as well.  The only character I had a time forming an opinion of was Loricel, the head Creweler, the woman who essentially held the existence of  Arras in her hands; I felt like she had way to much power to be as submissive as she was... 

As for the plot and pacing, I thought it was very good.  The story moved along well, and I never felt that been-there-read-this feeling that I've been struggling with when reading a lot of post-Hunger Games Dystopia.  There were some well-done big reveals, but a couple fell flat for me because I saw them coming a mile away.  At times, I thought the world building lacked depth, but I think the whole concept of weaving time with matter is just a difficult one to define without giving away later plot twists.  I believe that will improve in later installments.  

Crewel is, no doubt, a unique story.  A Dystopia with a fresh perspective.  I really enjoyed reading it, and although it wasn't perfect, it is definitely a great beginning to what promises to be a fantastic series.  

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★  

Grade Level Recommendation:  There were a couple of hot make-out scenes, but given that Spinsters had to maintain "purity standards", there was no sex (although there were several mentions of it).  The violence was minimal, and there was no inappropriate language.  I would say that this book is appropriate for 5th grade and up (ages 10+).

** Don't miss my GIVEAWAY of THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray as part of the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop! Click HERE for details! International. Ends 11/01/2012 **


  1. Great review! I've been seeing mixed reviews about Crewel, but i'm so glad that you liked it!

    - Ellie @ The Selkie Reads Stories

  2. Good review! I've heard alot about this book and i'll definately put in on my Goodreads TBR. Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Awesome Review you made me even fall in love with this book even more Crewel is one of my many top choices for TBR


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