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.
Crewel (Crewel World #1)FeaturedHot
The beginning of Crewel reminded me a lot of Matched by Ally Condie. The set up is only similar because both societies involved tight monitoring of its citizens. This means they are given a small pool of marriage options, limitations on the amount of children they can have, restricted access to other parts of the society, jobs chosen for them, etc.
Adelice, our main character, has the ability to weave time on an actual loom. It is a highly coveted ability in her society because it pretty much guarantees a woman a higher social status and a comfortable lifestyle without needing a husband. I'll admit I was worried about how Albin would pull off a society that was generally misogynistic. Even though woman were considered second-rate in this world (needing a husband, only having secretarial type jobs, no real positions of power, can't travel without a man, etc.) and were held to unfair higher standards than their male counter parts (Spinters had to remain "pure", women were expected to always appear a certain way in public: Make-up, dressed up and heels, act like a "lady") I never felt that this was ever accepted by the main character or by other secondary characters. And while I contemplated how I could ever survive in a society that forced me to wear heels all the time, I realized that these ideals were being challenged especially through Adelice's character. She was a strong, formidable heroine who did not back down or allow anyone to push her around. She took action at her own personal risk. She was bold, gutsy and witty.
As for Arras, this is yet again another book that makes talking about the world building difficult, mostly due to how Albin tells the story. She doesn't lay out the world building in the beginning over the first few chapters like most dystopians. In fact, for the first half of the book I still had quite a few questions on how the society in Crewel actually functioned. But the reader is given pieces bit by bit. As I learned more about the world, the plot continued to open up along the way. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about that style because I prefer my world building laid out from the beginning, but it grew on me and by the end of the book I had an appreciation for how it was told.
Final Verdict: Overall, I really like Crewel and think dystopian fans who are looking for something completely different, will eat this up. I don't usually say this that often, but Crewel is definitely a debut that lives up to the hype and will have readers hungering for more. I know I am.
Crewel is one of those really cool books that is such a blend of genres that you can't really pinpoint it. The structure of the government fares with dystopian, but much of the weaving and the Spinsters lies with the fantastical. There also is an aspect of sci-fi within it as well and I just loved this blend.
Gennifer Albin has woven a beautiful story. I just love her prose - it is simply gorgeous. By the time I had finished the prologue, I had already known that Crewel would be a book I would love. The story was so captivating and refreshingly new. I just love the idea of putting Spinsters at the head of society - it is such the opposite of idealistic society.
The world is so expertly crafted. I loved the entire concept behind the world and everything is just really well done in regards to it. The government, the looms and threads themselves, it was all so new, which was completely refreshing.
I loved the whisperings of those who are for the rebellion and against the Guild. The foundation was very well laid and I am very curious to get some answers about it in book 2. There is just so much history that each character seems to have to tell and I want to hear all about it.
Adelice is a wonderful main character - I love that she has her spunk and won't let anyone shape her into the perfect Spinster. She remains true to her principles and morals, which is very admirable. All the other characters were really well written as well. Cormac is so interesting - his character is so multifaceted and I want to see more of him in the future. Erik is another character who really intrigues me. I really want to know what his story is.
The ending, oh the ending. It was so cruel! The book is intense throughout the entire book, but the last chapters completely escalate into a completely cruel cliffhanger. I am SO antsy to see what will happen next.
Crewel by Gennifer Albin is a brilliant debut. I flew through it in about two hours, not able to put it down for a moment. With its beautiful prose and captivating story, Crewel will be a book you will be sad to miss.
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 heck 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 dystopian aspects to the daily life, the government, both the Guild side and the Spinster side is seriously suspect. Both seem far too 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 lets 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 me out, 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.
One thing that really bothered me about Crewel was all of the talk about gowns and cosmetics. The Spinsters live a very glamorous lifestyle, but why? Their clothes and makeup didn’t add anything to the story except a bunch of empty words. I much rather would have been reading more about their job and the compound. They can manipulate space and time, so who cares what they’re wearing?! Even Adelice doesn’t care very much about the glitz and glamor, so why does the author spend so much time talking about it? It just became irritating about a third of the way in.
The world, Arras, was what I really wanted to learn more about. It’s an extremely fascinating concept to have a world where everything can be altered at a simple touch. But it’s not very clear how it all works, and even the character don’t know. There’s plenty of “we’re still working things out,” and “it wasn’t explained” or “that has now been forgotten” and other phrases to kind of push the world building aside. I want to know how this all works! If the Spinsters must weave everything pertaining to life, who weaves the Spinsters? Why the looms? Why do some girls have the gift and others don’t? If women ultimately have all of the control, why are they run by men?! Some answers start popping up in the last third, but they also sparked more questions about this complex and compelling world!
As for the plot…I was less interested, but there wasn’t much of a plot to start out with anyway. The first two thirds are essentially just Adelice being “tested” by a jealous head Spinster and basically being told to “shut up and look pretty” by everyone who knows about her special talent. Of course, there’s also the love triangle, but we never really get any real scenes of the boys and Adelice doing anything lovey related until a random kiss with one of them. It’s more implied though, since she’s never been around boys before and now all of a sudden there’s two set to guard her and cater to her.
We also don’t even get to know Erik that well at all, so it’s almost like he doesn’t exist until he’s needed as eye-candy. I did like Jost though, but he was also the more fleshed out of the two love interests. This isn’t really surprising though, since our heroine is a pretty bland character, too. In short, the world and the concept completely out shine the characters and the plot, and ultimately, it’s what kept me interested, if not invested.
By the end I was getting a headache trying to figure everything out, and things started getting very weird and slightly creepy. There’s some explanations about the history of Arras, but it’s still confusing as heck. Plus there’s all kinds of random things that start popping up seemingly out of nowhere. Overall, Crewel is an interesting read even if the plot, characters, and romance are lackluster. Will I read the next book? Most definitely! Would I recommend this one? Yes, if you’re looking for something really out there and can overlook my complaints.
This novel is one of the most inventive and enchanting ones I've read. The world and it's workings are so detailed and intricate that I immediately fell under their spell. The politics, the lives of the Spinsters, the setting of Arras and the Coventry - not to mention the storyline of weaving the threads of time - all come together to create a thrilling page turner. The characters are flawed and endearing - especially the heroine Adelice, who has sarcasm and attitude to spare. I identified with her and was definitely rooting her on throughout the entire book. There is romance in the story, which made it all the more intriguing. It gives the plot more depth and the scenes are romantic but not cheesy (which I like). There are lots of twists in the story and you never quite know what to expect next. I liked the feeling that there is always something new to discover; another layer of the story to figure out. It was a bit hard to wrap my mind around the whole time weaving concept as well as figuring out the world of Arras and everyone's place inside it; but once I did, I was completely immersed in the setting and the plot. I really loved this book and the only thing I'm upset about is that I have to wait for what feels like forever for the next book to come out. I highly recommend this novel for fans of science fiction and dystopian fiction.
In this world, everything is comprised of threads which can be altered, manipulated, or completely removed. Behavior modification can be done for unruly children or if they're deemed a lost cause can be removed completely. If that is done then everything is reworked in order to change the complete structure of everyone's thoughts and memories so that the child that was removed is not even remembered, even by his own parents. Even the most base things that would normally be natural: food cultivation, upcoming thunderstorms, these are all managed by the Spinsters. Only managed though.
'Crewel work is an act of pure creation. Crewelers do more than weave the fabric of Arras. They can capture the materials to create the weave. Only they can see the weave of the raw materials. (...) The Spinsters wouldn't have any matter to weave if it weren't for her special gift.'
Because this world wouldn't exist without the Creweler.
'Day by day, I am remade, into someone else. I'm sixteen now, and I will be almost flawless forever. That thought helps me fall asleep at night, secure in my place here, but it also wakes me up trembling with nightmares.'
Their beauty routines and the description of how these women look reminded me of geisha's. The only difference with the women in Arras is the access to renewal patches which allow them to heal wounds rapidly but also help to preserve their youth. These patches worked so well that you're virtually unable to tell people's true age anymore. A very sci-fi and freaky touch.
Sure, there is a slight love-triangle in the book but I'm starting to realize that my main issue with them is that there is always the guy the protagonist should obviously be going for and one that she very clearly should not be (and he's usually a total prick). That wasn't the case with Crewel and it was a very plausible situation in which the love triangle derived from. I actually liked both guys, one more so than the other (Jost), but they were both still well likable and weren't total pricks. That calls for celebration I think.
I loved the twist that was thrown in at the end. Everything slowly begins to unravel (haha... pun intended) and Adelice finally realizes the enormity of the situation that she's been forced into. The twist succeeded in not only making the entire situation crazy and eye-popping but really added a layer of realism to this 'perfect world'.
While I had trouble grasping the concept (at first) I was still incredibly fascinated by the idea and everything ended up being explained sufficiently in my opinion. The attention to detail into every facet of this world was incredibly intricate and entirely original. I loved it. Crewel is a sci-fi world where everything can be altered with a 1984 type society where people are controlled to the nth degree. Highly recommended for dystopian fans.
On the surface level, this story seems like most other dystopians that have become so popular over the past few years. Life as we know it now has ceased to exist and formulaic standards are set in place. One, there’s a villain or controlling body, usually a government like The Guild in this book, that dictates the population in hopes of restoring order and balance to a world gone wrong. Two, there’s the heroine (or sometimes hero) that steps in to plant the seed of doubt and begins a bit of a revolution. Three, a love interest or love triangle that comes to the protagonist’s aid and shifts the plot into motion.
Where this dystopian differs from its predecessors is in the ingenuity of its world-building and how Arras came to be. It’s like The Matrix except for instead of binary coding, Spinsters see the world as though it were a complex fabric made up of millions of tiny threads. They can weave anything into existence using these threads to interlock time and matter: weather, people, animals, landmarks, buildings, etc. Yet, just as easily, snapping a thread can blink anything or anyone out of existence.
The whole process pulled me in from the beginning and kept me questioning the possibility of this type of universe. As the story progressed, I grew more enthralled with the journey that the author takes us on. However, I felt a bit let down at the end. Though there’s no cliffhanger, there is a life-altering moment that takes place. I felt like it was supposed to leave me flailing and screaming for the next in the series immediately, but I actually felt underwhelmed by the turn of events. That being said, it does open up a world of possibilities for the series and I’m definitely curious as to where it will go from here.
Adelice, our heroine, is a witty girl with a stern backbone that doesn’t back down from a challenge, even if it means she’ll get thrown in jail. When she realizes just how powerful her weaving skills are and how much the government is willing to put up with in order to have her on their side, she goes out of her way to be a snarky pain in the butt. By now, you should know that I like my girls to have a bit of fierce attitude to them, and Ad is definitely feisty.
Adelice has a few gentlemen pursuers, but I didn’t really have any strong feelings toward any particular one except for one of the main villains, Cormac Patton who is Coventry Ambassador for the Guild of Twelve. Yuck!
With that comes my major complaint; I wanted to feel the love triangle more. Actually, I kind of just wanted to feel any kind of love. The romance, the pull or attraction, was honestly a bit lackluster for me. I feel like it had the potential to be there, but there was more telling than showing me about Adelice and her “connections” to the guys. I need a tiny bit of spark in my books to fully enjoy them.
All in all, Ms. Gennifer Albin has a compelling way in which she writes. The world-building was fascinating and the descriptions were vivid, keeping me enamored with Adelice’s surroundings and the other characters throughout the book. I thought it was a creative plot and I look forward to seeing more of what this series has to offer.
*Note: I was provided an e-ARC of this title from MacMillan via Net Galley.