Crewel (Crewel World, #1)-Gennifer Albin
Firstly let me say, I’m not a crafty person, I don’t knit, I don’t crochet or anything like that. So when I read crewel, I thought it was a clever play on words. Then, when I went to type the book into Google it came up with a bunch of knitting patterns and suddenly the whole thing made sense. Needless to say, I felt like a complete idiot. So for those of you who, like me, have/had no idea what a crewel is here’s the answer:
Crewel work – A type of Wool work that first became popular in the early 17th century in Jacobean England, therefore sometimes called Jacobean embroidery.
Crewel stitch – This is the same as Outline stitch or Stem stitch. It is so called because it is one of the primary stitches done in Crewel work. Also used in Jacobean embroidery.
Here’s some crewel stitch embroidery:
Apart from my lack of embroidery knowledge, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Crewel. Judging by the Goodreads reviews I think several people felt similarly torn. Hopefully, my review will shed some light on why readers feel so conflicted.
I weep with him. For his loss and for the confusion I feel. This isn’t the boy with the crooked grin who fed me sweet potatoes, and my grief isn’t just because of what the Guild did to him but because of how different we are. I cry because I’m the stupid girl who can’t curb the jealousy and inferiority I feel towards Rozenn for getting him first. And for the distance that will always exist between us. He was a husband, a father, and I’m nothing and never will be. I guess the Guild assigned us our roles after all.
“On Earth, a war was fought to end all wars. Many of the regions, once called countries, became involved in the battle. One created a weapon so fearsome that it threatened to destroy everyone. They called this science, but it was merely the creation of men aimed at controlling the world. However, while one country readied to use this weapon, another scientist stepped forward with an alternative idea. Although he had worked on this bomb himself, he was more interested in time and the very matter that made up the world. He called the building blocks of this matter ‘elements.'”
“I won’t live without you,” he whispers, and his eyes say it all-desperation, betrayal, grief. But even as these emotions flash across his face, he reaches out his hand. He would risk everything-his own life-for us. But I can’t make that sacrifice. The Guild will kill him, too, if they find out about us. I can’t lose him, so I have to let him go.
Adelice is haunted by the prospects of her future. Unlike normal 16 year old girls, she is not exhilarated by the fast approaching whirlwind of independence, career, and marriage that is required by the government but is horrified by her success at the thing that comes most naturally to her-weaving. In this world, Spinsters and the Creweler can see the strands of matter that comprise reality and are able to alter them to create objects from seemingly nothing. These women(only women) have the power to regulate society, to create food, to change the weather, to make people, to freeze time but what they don’t have is control, despite their abilities. The Guild rules over them and the rest of society, they can end life as easily as they can force the Spinsters to create it. Masters of corruption, they will stop at nothing to maintain their power. To the masses, the Guild is who keeps them safe and Spinsters help them along. It is a great honor to serve as a Spinster even though they are not allowed to marry, the position is glamorous and envied. The reality is far from this. All her life Adelice has shown promise for weaving but her parents have instructed her to pretend to be clumsy so that they will not take her away. For to become a Spinster is to be taken away from your family and to never see them again. Up until now, Adelice has succeeded at being the average girl with no talent for weaving, but in a moment of distraction she slips up. Adelice knows they will come for her and when they do, everything she loves is taken from her and her life is irrevocably changed forever. Crewel follows Adelice on her journey into the Spinster/Creweler world as she becomes more disillusioned to the Guild’s propaganda and learns the harsh reality of being able to alter reality with the simple touch of her fingers.
- PRO:Crewel is an all consuming force that pulls you in and threatens to never let you go. The concept is fascinating; the idea of a multidimensional universe where time is an ever flowing stream is a common enough science fiction setup. However, the notion of a group of women trained to see the strings of time and it manipulate them into matter is not only awe inspiring but left me speechless. The closest comparison is, of course, to mythology with the sisters of fate who can grant or take away life with a snip of a string. Think Hercules. It is as mind bogglingly awesome as it is mildly nauseating to think that we are made of molecules and how easily these can be moulded into something new. Spinsters and Crewelers have the ability to carefully weave the delicate elemental strands together to create something from nothing, whether it be weather, food, or infants, all by piecing together the right strings. CON:It’s as astounding as it is terrifying that these women have such power yet lack the agency they so deserve. That, and that the Crewelers can rip through the fabric of space and time to other layers of reality. Patches of empty shimmering space appearing out of thin air is not something that sits well.
- PRO:Jost is wounded, smart, endearing, a little rough, and a lot gorgeous. He has a past that is so tragic it will make your heart hurt and your hatred for the injustice of the Guild soar to new heights.
- PRO:The depth of the evil and corruption is sickening and so well written that there’s a constant sense of dread and doom for what the future may bring. This also creates an uncertainty that heightens the direness of the situation with the Guild and their twisted dictatorship shadowed cleverly masked by their public advocacy for making sure the world is disease and destruction free.CON:The problem with this is that with all that pessimism surrounding the plot, there’s really no hope for a happy ending and it’s this lack of hope for most of the book that detracts from the wonderful plot.
- PRO: Tackles the notion that men have positions of power, specifically that Guild rules over the Spinsters and Crewelers because they feel threatened. This is further evidenced by how homosexuality is presented. The Guild presents this as a defect that can be fixed with what is known as remapping. Remapping is a technique that alters the individuals personality by reworking their brain. This is extremely relevant and a thought provoking exploration of how homosexuality is viewed. When the Guild finds out that some women (like Spinsters who are forbidden to marry and have purity vows) are choosing to not marry or have children but to get involved with other women, they decide that remapping is the only way to keep control and save society.
- CON: Adelice is iffy. As the protagonist she is significantly lacking. What should have come off as bravery felt like self destruction, she didn’t really have any unique qualities except that she had Creweler powers. What she liked, disliked, who knows. While she is devoted to saving her family, she seems to do everything to jeopardize their safety and her own. She constantly protests the system even though she knows her actions result in the death or worse of innocent people. It’s completely selfish and makes her hard to like. It is because of Adelice that I think people are conflicted about whether or not to like the book, or at least some people, including me. This combined with the somewhat confusing complexity of the Creweler/Spinister/Guild world topped off by the science fiction multidimensional manipulation, it’s easy to lose focus on what is important and whether or not to become attached to characters.
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