Crewel (Crewel World, #1)

Crewel (Crewel World, #1) - Gennifer Albin From the moment I read the blurb for this book, I was deeply interested by what its world would be: a society in which special women are able to weave time and matter? That was just screaming for my attention. I was all the more interested that I've been a player of the pen & paper game "Secrets of the 7th Sea" for quite a few years, in which my main character is a young woman whose sorcery is based on seeing and (re)weaving strands of Fate between people; and she's from a country where only women can use that sorcery, and as such are maintained under very strict male dominance, either father's or husband's (same for other women there, by the way: either kept into menial work or as classy courtesans, but still not enjoying that much freedom). You can see why "Crewel" would appeal to me even more.

Now that I've read it, I can say I wasn't disappointed. The world at first reminded me of the one in Matched (with people required to find a husband/wife and marry at 18, although they still had a choice between several matches through ads/profiles, and weren't just assigned one), but it wasn't all the story was woven around, and soon enough I also felt that said world of Arras was more developed, and hid something else. This is something that I'm never at ease with in dystopian (especially YA) novels, at least the ones I've read so far: the world they're set in too often feels like one country, and you're left to wonder what's happened to the others, why they're not stepping in to counter said dystopian society, and so on. In Crewel, it seems there's actually a reason to that, Arras indeed being one 'bubble' cut from the rest. (I say 'seem', because we may get to learn more about that in the second book, but I can't say yet if the world-building in that one will deliver or not.)

The love triangle so common to a lot of YA novels was present, and not that useful; on the other hand, given the world developed by the author, at least *some* kind of love interest for Adelice was logical enough, since boys and girls were being kept separate from birth to 16, and I assume that seeing some for the first time without the barrier of segregation would quickly spark something. And it wasn't too enforced, and wasn't the main focus of the story. Besides, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that same-sex relationships were tackled as well: they too were bound to happen, so kudos to Gennifer Albin for not just conveniently sweep them under the rug and pretend they didn't exist. The book wasn't judgmental about that point, which was good.

I liked reading about the weaving process. It was a little confusing at first, but when I paid closer attention, it made more sense. I guess because "reality as a tapestry" and "weaving reality" are concepts I'm already familiar with (through another pen & paper game), so I managed to picture how it would work quickly enough. Perhaps this will be a more difficult aspect for the book for other readers, though, so I don't know if it's actually a quality or a flaw.

The one thing that left me annoyed sometimes were the characters, some of which felt a little too unidimensional, although their actions and reactions were understandable in such a world (Maela, for instance: she often felt like a cardboard villain, yet at the same time, I could fathom why she would behave like she did, having no other hopes in life than gaining power, and thus being personally threatened as soon as the power she had was challenged). And while I liked Adelice in most of the book, I felt it weird that while still enjoying some kind of 'freedom' before testing, she appeared as meek, shy and unnoticeable, yet as soon as she sets foot in a place where she's going to be under even more scrutiny, and even more in danger, she starts standing her ground way too much for her own good. As said, I liked that aspect of the character (it made her able to step in and take acton), but I wish it would have been made clearer from the very beginning. As things were, I wondered at first if it was the same person I was reading about.

I have high hopes for the next book. But I'm also somewhat fearful, because of how the first one ended, and now I'm wondering how the world I liked seeing depicted in it will appear in the second one.