ARC Review: “Crewel” by Gennifer Albin

Crewel (Crewel World #1) by Gennifer Albin

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“May Arras flourish at her touch.”

For generations, girls known as Spinsters have been called by Arras’ Manipulation Services to work the looms and control what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die. Gifted with the unusual ability to weave time with matter, sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys is 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 Adelice isn’t interested. Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

4 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan for this eARC! You can get a copy for yourself on October 16th, 2012.

I honestly don’t know how to write this review. I’m sitting here, staring at my screen, trying to figure out what words to put in the box. I cannot for the life of me understand how there are so many reasons I LOVE this book, yet so many things that bothered me. Let’s try to puzzle this out together, shall we?

For one, the book was certainly slow to start. The first chapter seems to promise instant action, but it slowly dies off for a while until the plot gets a direction again. Personally, I thought that took a lot longer than it should have, but then I’m easily annoyed when things don’t start to move instantly.

The main character of Adelice was also very conflicting for me. On the one hand, she’s my kind of girl: snarky, witty and totally rebellious without care of the power of the people she’s pissing off. She had some of–no wait, THE–best lines in the book. On the other hand, her character felt very stagnant. It seemed like she certainly SHOULD have grown throughout the book, but I didn’t believe it.

The world building is what drew me to this book originally, and the originality factor was off the charts. I can’t even fathom how Albin came up with this idea, but I LOVE it. LOVE IT LOVE IT. So it was frustrating that most of the information I learned about this world came in large infodumps that still left me feeling a tad bit confused. Or maybe that was because I started skimming because I wanted something to happen besides talking.

Some elements of the romance in the book–yes, of course there’s romance, what did you THINK this is YA–that surprised me: 1) Love triangle. No, this isn’t a spoiler, because it is SO OBVIOUS SO FAST that it’s being set up. Especially if your love-triangle-o-meter is as fine tuned as mine. 2) A frank and very modern discussion of lesbian women. After spending time in the world it makes total sense, but it certainly came out of left field for me. Whether or not these two elements are connected is something I’ll leave you to find out for yourselves. 😉

All in all, I think the thing that bothered me most about this book is that it felt like a set-up book. Like Albin felt she had created this world so crazy and different that she had to spend an entire book explaining it with some beginnings of plot around it so that she could zoom into the next book without having to worry about all this backstory business. To be fair, after reading this I have absolute and total faith that she can and will ROCK Crewel #2. The second half/end of the book almost bumped this review up to four and half stars because I was so in love with a certain plot twist. And then so annoyed by another. BUT! I do believe that Crewel as it’s own story suffered under the load of the world that Albin tried to put on it.

Still, Albin totally and completely achieved the ultimate goal, which is to get me interested in the next book. Though I had issues with Crewel, there is no doubt in my mind that I will be getting Crewel #2. Also, she got me to rate it four stars, which certainly isn’t bad, and I’ll still recommend it to people without a doubt. The problem is just that I’m not recommending it for the story within the 368 pages of the book itself–I’ll recommend it for the story I believe it will become.