Title: Soundless

Author: Rachelle Mead

Fei lives in a mountain village with only three real positions: artist, miner, or beggar. Their isolation means the village survives by sending metals down a zip line in exchange for food. The artists serve as the village’s record-keepers and newsmen, describing what has happened in elegant calligraphy and illustrations. Everyone in the village is deaf, but some are beginning to go blind, and although the situation worries many, their location makes it impossible to get help or information. Then Fei wakes up one day with the ability to hear . . .

I liked the way this explores a number of different things. Fei, as someone who has been deaf her entire life, has no idea how to handle these strange sensations that are suddenly bombarding her. She and the rest of the village communicate entirely in sign language, and have for so long that no one has any knowledge of spoken language. I liked the little things Fei notices as an artist, and how she is forever dreaming of painting, and how she finds a bit of a match for that in Li Wei and his carving. And I especially liked how the ending managed to pull everything together.

The romance was there. I was glad it didn’t really try to push a love triangle angle, even though Fei is engaged to someone with a not-so-great personality, though it’s clear she’s in love with Li Wei. But I don’t read books for the romantic parts anyway, so I mostly skimmed those scenes. I did like Li Wei—brave enough to challenge the unknown despite the very real risk of death, but kind and considerate as well. And he’s able to put aside his own desires to do what’s necessary without smothering those desires or losing them.

Overall, this had some fun surprises, and some good characters. I rate this book Recommended.

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