First, I'd like to say that the copy of Crewel I'm reviewing is an ARC I received at Book Expo America 2012. I also had the pleasure of meeting author Gennifer Albin while I was there, who was gracious enough to autograph it for me.
Before going into a detailed review, I would just like to say that the premise behind this book is one of the most unique and exciting premises I've ever read about. A girl who can weave both time and space and affect both. Wow! Nuff said.
I tried not to put any spoilers in this review. I hope I succeeded. Most of the details I discuss are introduced early on in the book, or are included as part of write-ups I've already seen as promotional materials for the book, so I think I'm safe. Still, I apologize if I accidentally give something significant away.
There are elements of this story that are similar to other dystopian novels I've read that I love (I'm a sucker for dystopian fiction), although there's plenty here that is different than any other book I've read. The Giver by Lois Lowry of course comes to mind, because there is this governing body who "claims" to have society's best interests at heart. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher also comes to mind, since both stories take place in this manufactured world where not all is what it seems.
Another book I find this one similar to is Luminous by Dawn Metcalf, in that they both have this really cool, "high concept" idea of a world that the main character can mold and create and bend to their will.
As for the plot itself, the tension builds perfectly, except in one instance which I'll discuss below. From the very beginning, the main character's (Adelice Lewys) world is torn apart when she is separated from her parents and sister, she finds out that her parents are (apparently) killed, and her sister has been "rewoven" into a new family, with no prior knowledge of Adelice and her previous life. This sister is used as leverage to get Adelice to cowtow to the powers that be and make her do their will, which also adds to the tension of the story. Adelice is enlisted as a Spinster to help assist with maintaining the world in which they live. Adelice butts heads with Maela, the head Spinster, the resulting conflict causing tension between her and another of the Spinsters. Finally, as Adelice learns of the uniqueness of her own powers compared to the other Spinsters', she also learns of the potential disastrous consequences of using such powers.
There is also a romantic element to the story, which is a nice addition to the story. Adelice is torn between two boys who have entered her life, and Adelice's not knowing what their true roles in this strange society are or their true intentions related to her also drives the story forward.
While this is a nice addition to the story, as I said above, it is also the cause of my only concern with the plot. Adelice's preoccupation with the boys near the beginning of the story doesn't seem to be a realistic reaction after being ripped away from her family, dealing with her parents' death, and her uncertainty about the whereabouts and welfare of her sister. Later, however, her reactions to events do become more believable. It was just her initial reactions when these characters first show up that didn't sit well with me.
All in all, however, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and, because it (almost literally) left me hanging at the end (sorry, is this a spoiler? Readers of the book will know what I'm talking about I guess, but for those who haven't read it, I think this comment is vague enough), I can't wait to read the next book in the series.