Keertana's Reviews > Crewel

Crewel by Gennifer Albin
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May 02, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: debut-author-2012, arc-galley-and-first-reads, why-the-hype
Read from August 23 to 25, 2012

Rating: 2.5 Stars

I think we’re all familiar with the saying, “It’s not you, it’s me!” and while I would love to claim that my disappointed feelings concerning this book stem from me, and not the book itself, I honestly don’t think I can. Yes, my unusually prolific knowledge on dystopian and science-fiction novels definitely played a role in my lack of amazement at the so-called creativity of this novel and that same understanding enabled me to predict the ending of this novel far before the half-way mark of this book was even reached, but overall, I really do think it’s the book as well, not just me. Yet, then again, with my reputation of being a black sheep, you could just say this book wasn’t for me, but who knows? Ultimately, the point is that Crewel was a disappointing read with a lot of potential which failed to live up to the immense amount of hype surrounding it.

Adelice lives in Arras, a world where unmarried women with weaving talents, known as Spinsters, can control time and matter. Ever since she was young, Adelice has discovered that she has this power as well, but she has struggled to keep it suppressed due to her parent's fear of Adelice becoming separated from her family and taken away to the lone towers where the Spinsters live their lives. On the day of testing, however, Adelice fails to fail and when The Guild, the totalitarian government which controls every aspect of their lives, comes to take her away, her parents force her to run away. Nevertheless, Adelice is soon caught and taken to become a Spinster where she causes as much trouble as she possibly can. Yet, as she will soon find out, there is more to The Guild than what meets the eye and her parents just may have been on to something when they begged her to run away…

Wow, a dystopian novel where women control time? Awesome! Original! Creative! Riiight? Wrong. I’ve heard all those three words used to described this novel, but in reality, Crewel is no different from any other dystopian book. We have our classic government which controls everything, from who you marry to what you study to what you eat and how many children you have. We all know that dystopian novels are about fixing the wrongs on Earth and restoring control, so really, this is nothing new. Furthermore, the whole idea of being able to kill people at mere whim isn’t anything new either! Lois Lowry did it in The Giver, Kurt Vonnegut did it in his short story “2 B R 0 2 B” and I’m sure countless other authors have done it in the past as well. While I’m not denying that Crewel does have an immense amount of originality in its conception – which we see only after the 50% mark of this novel has been passed – for the most part, this story just focuses on a dystopian government like any other. If anything, I found it to be formulaic and extremely typical, which was all rather disappointing.

Speaking of disappointments, I think the characters were what ruined this story for me. On the surface, Adelice is an amazing heroine – she’s a strong protagonist, she’s clever, she’s intelligent, and she sticks up for what she believes in. Yet, like any building, her foundation was off, which only made her overall character topple down as the story progressed. In Crewel, Adelice is credited for running away from The Guild on her own and for being a rebel – a role she quickly assumes without much reason. I think we were supposed to realize that the reason Adelice caused so much trouble was because her parents were killed, but this was hardly mentioned. It felt, to me at any rate, that she lacked true motivation for her actions and was falsely perceived as a rebel throughout the novel when she made it quite clear that she wouldn't have run away if it wasn't for her parents. Thus, the question for much of the novel which begs to be answered is why does Adelice do what she does and cause trouble for herself and for others as a Spinster when she doesn't even know why her parents hated The Guild? We never find out and while Adelice receives plenty of answers later, for the most part, her actions lack logical reasoning.

In addition to Adelice though, the villains in this story were mediocre at best. If anything, they were predictable, unoriginal, and almost cartoon-like in their anger, misbehavior, and evil deeds. In general, they failed to impress me and didn’t add anything to this novel. Furthermore, they were vastly underdeveloped – much like the love interests in this story as well. Yes, that’s right, love interests, plural. We have, ladies and gentlemen, another love triangle on our hands! While this wasn’t as bad as some I’ve read previously, it was still extremely irritating. Still, I have to admit though that Jost was an extremely developed character and I loved him throughout the story, although I did think the “problem” between him and Adelice was way too easy to see coming. Erik, on the other hand, was as flat as paper and seemed to pine after Adelice for no reason, so that aspect of their romance irritated me. Overall though, the love triangle really could have been worse.

Crewel is one of those novels that had so much potential, but just fell flat. I really loved the manner in which Albin revealed to us that this novel was a dystopian and some of the cruelty she exposed and horrors of the The Guild and the life in Arras were beautifully written, as was the character of Adelice’s mentor. Yet, despite all those good qualities, it still remains that this novel was predictable, contained mostly underdeveloped characters, lacked originality, and had an extremely slow pacing to start with. I feel as if so much of the beginning could have just been cut out and if the second half of this was better edited, it would have been a much better story. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if I’m going to continue with this series. I really do think I can predict most of what will occur in Book Two already, so that definitely does not bode well. If you haven’t read a lot of dystopian or science fiction novels in the past, I think this will blow you away, but if you have, this might just wind up being another typical dystopian story for you. Ultimately though, Crewel joins my pile of extremely disappointing reads – after all the hype, I think I was just expecting more.

Thank you to NetGalley and MacMillan for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for a honest review!

You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings.
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Reading Progress

08/23/2012
12.0% "Extremely unimpressed so far. I just hope this gets better because believe me, I do NOT want to be that sole black sheep for this story...dammit, why am I so hard to please! >.<" 11 comments
08/24/2012
37.0% "No Erik! You can't freaking give her a handkerchief and then tell her she needs it more than you do! THAT'S MR. TUMNUS' LINE! Quit ruining my favorite scene EVER between Mr. Tumnus and Lucy! Just. Stop. #NarniaFTW" 4 comments
08/25/2012
46.0% "I am officially changing my name to Black Sheep. Seriously, I am the Black Sheep 85% of the time and this book totally falls into that 85% category...I am bored, unimpressed, and frankly, I don't give a damn! You don't want to spend hours wearing make-up Adelice? Well, I don't care. You like Erik and Jost? Well, I don't care. Cormac possibly has an interest in you? Nope, don't care. I. Just. Don't. Care." 4 comments
08/25/2012
61.0% "Wow, this is finally getting to be seriously good...didn't that take awhile? -.- Still, really enjoying this now! :)" 2 comments
08/25/2012
95.0% "I am SO close to being done...YES! I just need to get down all my conflicted thoughts about this book...gah, I don't know what to think about it. First 58% --> Snooore 58-77% --> AWESOME! 77-82% --> I hate romance! >.< 82-91%--> Mhmm...not bad... 91-92% ---> I totally saw this coming... =.= 93-95% ---> Yayy! 95-100%---> ????"
08/25/2012
98.0% "I suspected that plot twist too... *sigh* How. Typical."
08/25/2012
100.0% "Good Lord, I feel old. I've clearly read too much because this is so typical of a dystopia. I swear, if you've read as many dystopian novels as I have, this has very little that is creative and original about it...how disappointing. It did have some merits though...not too many though! :/" 2 comments
11/06/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

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Heidi I really enjoyed this one, but I think the reasons you've given for not liking it are 100% valid. It has been a long time since I read a dystopian, so I had that working for me, and I still very much enjoyed the writing/world building/characters, even if the premise was predictable.


message 2: by Haya (new) - added it

Haya I thought I was the only one who felt old reading these kind of books. Makes me feel wise :3


Keertana @Heidi: I'm glad you were able to enjoy this one, even though I wasn't! I think I've been reading too much dystopian lately which again, just went against this novel, so it wasn't so much the book as it was partially me as well. Yet, like you said, I enjoyed the writing and found the whole concept behind the world building to be fascinating, so I have to give Albin props for that! :)

@Haya: Nope, I feel old too! Yes, we are wise sages on all things dystopian! ;)


Blythe Great review, Keetana! I'm sorry you didn't end up liking this as much as I had, but you bring up very valid points for why you did not enjoy it as much as you had hoped.


Keertana Thanks Blythe!(: Yes, I had high hopes for this one, so I was rather disappointed by it by the end. Perhaps the sequel will be better though - we'll see! :D


Josephine  (reading in twilight) I'm really glad I read this review! I'm still going to read the book (I hope) but this way I won't expect too much, subsequently enjoying it enough to make it worth-while. :D Thanks!


Keertana Thanks Josephine, for pointing that out! It seems as if no matter how many times I edit my reviews, I always miss something! Anyway, thank you for that!(:

I'm glad you found my review helpful! I really hope you're able to enjoy this book with some altered expectations. I know I was expecting a lot from it, which is definitely part of the reason why I didn't like it as much as I wanted to. I'll be looking out for your review though! :D


Josephine  (reading in twilight) That might be years, I'm so slow on the turn-around of books...


Keertana It's alright, Josephine. Whenever I see you read it, I'll definitely be interested to hear what you have to say about it!(:


message 10: by K. (new) - rated it 2 stars

K. I know what you mean. I'm about 100 pages and quitting. It's not the words, it's what the words are saying. I just don't care about any of it :/ And I honestly still do not have a smidgen of clue as to how this weaving works...I quit. Great review, though, Keertana!


Keertana Thanks K.!(: Yeah, I honestly wouldn't push through it if I were you. It's hard to connect with the characters and the plot is simply so predictable and overdone that there isn't much "original" or "creative" about it after all. If there are any redeeming qualities, it is one of the love interests and the depth he provides, but either than that, I feel as if I can predict the majority of Book 2 already, so this was a disappointment for sure. You aren't missing out on anything, that's for sure!


Sarah Thank God, it's not only me. I really felt like I should've enjoyed this book but nah. Too bad.


message 13: by Inge (new)

Inge Another one of your great reviews, Keertana! Really, despite your reputation of a black sheep, it can't all be your fault. These books obviously aren't perfect. I like your use of metaphors (eg. comparing a character to a building) and how you manage to explain so well why you did or didn't like (certain aspects of) a book.


message 14: by K. (new) - rated it 2 stars

K. Keertana wrote: "Thanks K.!(: Yeah, I honestly wouldn't push through it if I were you. It's hard to connect with the characters and the plot is simply so predictable and overdone that there isn't much "original" ..."

I'm nodding at everything you're saying, Keertana.(view spoiler)


Keertana @Sarah: Same! I feel as if everyone else enjoyed this one except for me, but don't worry, we're not alone. I think past the initial readers, not too many other people were impressed by this one.

@Inge: Aww, thank you dearie!(: I'm sure it's not all my fault, although sometimes I'm sure it's just me and my nit-pickiness, but when it comes to this book, it had a lot to do with the book as well. I'm glad you found my review helpful for sure though and thank you for all your dazzling comments! :D


Keertana K. wrote: "Keertana wrote: "Thanks K.!(: Yeah, I honestly wouldn't push through it if I were you. It's hard to connect with the characters and the plot is simply so predictable and overdone that there isn't..."

(view spoiler)


message 17: by K. (last edited Sep 10, 2012 08:18PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

K. (view spoiler)


Keertana (view spoiler)


message 19: by K. (new) - rated it 2 stars

K. (view spoiler)


Keertana No problem, K! I'm glad it helped!(: (view spoiler)


Caitlin @Keertana the predictability was my biggest problem too although I also hated the love triangle (really it should've just been Jost, his back story was pretty interesting for a male lead, IMHO.) I also realized that part of why I was interested in this book is because I expected it to have the Spinsters themselves as the villains not an overarching male dominated societal structure. That was a real disappointment to me, I wanted to see a female controlled/dominated society and expected to from the description but alas, it was not to be.


Keertana I agree - it should have just been Jost. I actually liked him opposed to Eric (was that his name?). In terms of the villain, I also have to agree with you on that front. Everything about this world had me skeptical or rolling my eyes and a matriarchal society would have definitely been far more interesting. If you're looking for something like that though, I'd recommend Renegade by J.A. Souders. It's dystopian, it's different, and the villain - who is a female dominating her society - is truly evil. In many ways, it's what I wanted this book to be, only in a different (underwater!) setting.


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