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Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: CREWEL by Gennifer Albin

Title: Crewel
Author: Gennifer Albin
Pub info: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2012; 368 pp
Genre: YA dystopian fantasy

This book has a fascinating concept about an alternate society where an elite group of women weave the fabric of reality--whether they like it or not. Cool!

Goodreads summary:
Incapable. Awkward. Artless.
That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: She wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. But if controlling what people eat, where they live, and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and used her hidden talent for a moment. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her dad’s jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because tonight, they’ll come for her.

Status: finished 6/22/14

My impressions:
First of all, what an amazing idea for a book. It's a little bit The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood), but placed squarely in its own unique universe and with a premise that completely captured my imagination. Our heroine, Adelice, is strong and spunky, and what's not to like about that? Gennifer's writing speeds the plot right along, so the ride is easy and fun.

That said, maybe things are a bit too easy in this book. For all its originality, it includes the usual love triangle (rebellious Jost vs. company man--or is he?--Erik), and that aspect doesn't interest me much unless the relationships are unusual or unique in some way. These aren't, really. Since Suzanne Collins introduced the dystopian society-plus-love triangle plot back in The Hunger Games, it's been done often enough that it's lost its appeal. I don't get a clear sense beyond mere archetypes of either of these boys. I also feel like I've just skimmed the surface of Adelice's emotions. The opening is gripping, when she's torn from her family and their fate is unknown; but after that, I'm told more often than shown how Adelice is coping with her new life as a Spinster.

This is the first of the series, and it may well be that some of these issues are resolved in future books. And maybe it's unfair to compare a new writer to masters like Atwood and Collins. If the writing feels a bit lightweight compared to the novel's conflicts, things may improve later on. For now, this is an interesting and fun read, but I'm not necessarily racing to the next volume.

About Gennifer:
Gennifer Albin holds a Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Missouri. A recovering academic, she turned to writing her own books. In her free time she sits on the National Novel Writing Month Advisory Board. The sequel to Crewel is called Altered (Farrar, Straus, 2013), and the final book in the trilogy (Unraveled) is due out in October 2014. While she used to live right near little old me in Lenexa, Kansas, Gennifer now lives in Poulsbo, Washington, with her family.

Gennifer's website has all the news about her books and author events. She also blogs here. Gennifer gets around on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Want to win a free copy of this book? The first Monday of each month features a giveaway of any of the titles I've reviewed the previous month. Pick your fave, enter, and win! Next giveaway: July 7.


To follow my progress as I bulldoze my way through a stack of 51 to-be-reads this year, search for the tag 2014 TBR Shelf. Read all the reviews here.


  1. I'm not much for either dystopian or most fantasy, but I have a niece who is crazy for this stuff. I'll keep this one in mind for her.

    1. It's a quick and interesting read, especially for kids who can't get enough of this stuff.