Mead, Richelle. Soundless.
4Q * 4P * J * S
Mead, Richelle. Soundless. Razorbill/ Penguin, 2015. 272p. $19.99. 978-1-59514-763-9.
The privileged artist Fei, like all the citizens in her isolated village, is deaf. Now, Fei sees her sister and fellow artist, Zhang Jing, losing sight. Blindness will sentence Zhang fing to working in the mines and ultimately begging for food. One night, Fei's hearing is mysteriously restored. Her confusion and fear make her open to the grief of miner Li Wei, her forbidden love, whose blind father dies in the mines. He challenges her to descend the treacherous mountainside with him and confront the line keeper who controls the village's food supply in exchange for the village's gold and silver. Their journey uncovers an opulent world fed by a ruthless dictatorship. Facing death from both the villagers and government troops, Fei returns to save her starving and exploited village. Fei's hearing becomes her weapon and reveals her connection to mythological creatures who can restore or destroy the village.
Mead combines adventure, suspense, and romance in this fast moving cliff hanger mythological fantasy. Fei, the narrator, usually speaks in a formal, controlled voice, but sometimes sounds like an American teenager as she confronts the conflicts between her heart and tradition. Even though the combination of standard and italic print, mythological references, and Asian names may challenge some readers, the story's appeal will draw a wide range of readers and hopefully will lead to sequels centered on this daring heroine driven by love and duty.--Lucy Schall.