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Soundless by Richelle Mead ARC {2.5 Stars}

Soundless by Richelle Mead is a standalone fantasy adventure that attempts to be based in Chinese folklore about a deaf girl saving the day, but stumbles on both those accounts. I had high hopes for Soundless, and therefore was quite disappointed with the lack of Chinese inspiration, how the deafness was handled, the lack of magic, and generally the lack of much interesting going on besides romance. There are some spoilers here because I start ranting about things not happening until the end of the story, thereby vaguely alluding to the ending.

Note: I received an advanced copy of Soundless from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Soundless by Richelle Mead ARC {2.5 Stars}

Soundless by Richelle Mead
Published by Razorbill on Nov. 10th, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 272 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever...

2.5 Stars


  • Soundless is a standalone as far as has been announced, so you don’t have to worry about getting dragged into another fantasy series. The plot wraps up nicely too so it seems unlikely there is going to be a series tacked on in the future ;-).
  • The romance in Soundless is really the main draw since it’s one of those cute childhood sweethearts premises mixed with forbidden love and adventuring. I suspect readers who enjoy fantasy romance as a main focus will be happier than I was.
  • Eventually, there are cool Chinese mythical creatures described and such and I always like learning about new creatures! Just wish they could have featured more prominently.


  • For most of the story, Soundless could easily have been set in any culture if you just changed the characters names. They ate noodles a lot? There was so little description of daily activity and the surroundings that while I assumed they were writing in Chinese characters, for example, I can’t tell you for certain. I can’t tell you what their buildings looked like, how their children occupied themselves, etc. Very little sense of place unfortunately.
  • There are several major logical problems in Soundless and they really grated on my nerves. The first is this whole climbing thing. I was a climbing instructor in college, okay? A girl who has spent her whole life doing nothing but painting simply won’t have the muscle development to make it 30 feet, let alone climb up half a mountain without safety gear. It doesn’t matter how determined she is, it takes muscles that you don’t use much in every day life. The second major problem is this whole toxins causing deafness thing. The claim is that over generations, everyone lost their hearing due to exposure to toxins from the mines. Unless they have pregnant women mining, it is really unlikely that babies would be born without hearing; that just isn’t how genetic inheritance works. There are so many ways that that could have been corrected, but as it stands it just makes no biological sense.
  • Soundless seemed like it would be the story of a heroine born deaf who saves the day. It isn’t. It’s the story of a heroine who can hear being better and smarter than all her deaf friends and saving them because they are too afraid of falling rocks to save themselves. I was ridiculously uncomfortable with this whole storyline.
  • The synopsis really makes it sound like Fei gains magical powers when she wakes up able to hear. But sound does not ‘become her weapon’ in any magical sense. There is no magic. She just can hear and that seems magical to all the deaf villagers because they apparently can’t feel vibrations either. This story is really barely a fantasy until the very very end, so don’t expect magic.


Soundless ended up being a rather uncomfortable disappointment. Even overlooking the logical flaws and lack of magic, I simply can’t enjoy a story that is first and foremost about a hearing person being better than a group of deaf people. In the current climate of both young adult and speculative fiction, who thought this was a good idea?

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya


 Soundless by Richelle Mead

© 2015, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. Very late for this but thought I should mention it is possible for external factors to turn genes on and off and those modifications be passed on to future generations. One could make the argument that given a long enough period of time it would become widespread, especially in an isolated population. It’s called epigenetics (and covers a much wider range of topics) if you want to learn more about it.

    That said, I didn’t like the book either.

    • Thanks for commenting! I have a PhD in biology ;-) For it to become epigenetic there would need to be some sort of selective pressure for the trait to be variable, it’s an interesting thought experiment though!

  2. Um…major logic flaws? … Yep, I’m now super glad I gave my BEA copy to another blogger there who was more excited for it. Sounds (haha, pun) like this would have been a massive disappointment. Oh well. Thanks for suffering through it for us, Anya! ;)
    Kel recently posted…Looking Back at 2015My Profile

  3. I wonder if this was a book that was rushed because of her new series? I’m so alarmed by all of the negativity, but not following the culture of the setting is a huge no-no. I thought we were over that.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Garden Gazette: November Wrap UpMy Profile

  4. Oh no. I was really interested in Soundless, and was planning on getting around to reading it at some point. I’ve never read anything by Richelle Mead before, but I guess Soundless won’t be the book I start with.
    Emily @ Books & Cleverness recently posted…Review: Diamonds are Forever by Michelle MadowMy Profile

  5. Aww. I didn’t read your review because spoilers, but this is my exact fear, especially since I am half Chinese myself. So I really hope that I don’t get frustrated by the fact that there’s going to be nothing based on Chinese folklore, but I have a feeling I will :(

    I hope your next read is better Anya!
    Valerie recently posted…Review: Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight NightsMy Profile

  6. I felt the same way about this book. Was so excited, but ended up being rather disappointed by the shortcomings in the world building and the fact there were so many logical inconsistencies in the story.
    Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum recently posted…#RRSciFiMonth Novella Review: Binti by Nnedi OkoraforMy Profile

    • Yes, normally I’m pretty easy with inconsistencies, but I just couldn’t find a way to justify some of them this time around!

  7. I heard this one was a bit of a disappointment. Too bad, the cover is gorgeous. The ending sounds like a bit of a cop-out – she can hear again and that’s why it’s a good ending? Sounds a bit superficial to me…
    Sharry recently posted…#SciFiMonth Readalong of A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (Week 2). A diverse cast, questions about sentience and the necessity of weaponry, and more fun times with the crew.My Profile

  8. I have was excited for this book, but the reviews have been so bad! If I’d planned on still reading this, your review would convince me not to. I need more fantasy in my fantasy. The world building was what sounded so fantastic to me and it sounds like it’s pretty bad. At least the romance was good.
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…Welcome To The Madhouse by S.E. SasakiMy Profile

  9. I read the first five chapters on NetGalley and I had concerns, all of which you’ve addressed. I was hoping the book improved after those chapters, sorry to hear it doesn’t.
    Bea @Bea’s Book Nook recently posted…Bea Reviews The Finisher by David BaldacciMy Profile

  10. Yeah, most reviews I’ve seen are along the same lines as yours. Too bad! I stood in line at SDCC to get an ARC of this, but it will most likely be given away at some point. If you really want an AMAZING book full of Chinese folklore and beautifully written, with ghosts and magic, try The Girl with Ghost Eyes:-)
    Tammy @Books, Bones & Buffy recently posted…Ten 2016 YA Sci-Fi Books On My RadarMy Profile

  11. This review is fantastic! You made me laugh and I’m definitely not reading this book. I read both Mead’s vampire series and was really, really disappointed by the conclusion of Bloodlines – but also by the general message (I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t read them but I thought it was weird something like this was published in the 21st century, too). And I doubt my love of romance would make me forget about a flaw as glaring as you describe.
    Kaja recently posted…Every Word by Ellie MarneyMy Profile

  12. :/ Every review I’ve read so far for Soundless has been like yours: They were disappointed in the story, for the most part. I think I will be skipping this one now.
    Sara L. recently posted…Stacking The Shelves, Vol. 20: Cheers for Bookmail!My Profile

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