Review

Crewel

by Gennifer Albin

Adelice Lewys has a special gift: she can see the threads of time and manipulate them. This gift allows her to become a Spinster and attain privilege, everlasting beauty and power --- not something women are able to attain in hyper-regulated and segregated Arras. Despite her parents' training her to be clumsy and fail the testing each girl must undergo when they turn 16, Adelice slips and reveals her gift. She will be taken without the knowledge of whether her parents and sister survive the retrieval. 

"Aldin's world has a very distinct division of power between the sexes, and a pulling force in the narrative is the inequality between men and women. This is fresh and question-provoking. Who really has control?"

Adelice is taken to join the Spinsterhood to serve the male-exclusive Guild that rules Arras and dumped into a prison. After all, she must be punished for trying to evade the Guild. During her introductory lessons, she and the other chosen girls are taught why Spinsters are important to the Guild. They are the only ones with the ability to maintain the weave: they control the weather, regulate the food supply and have the ability to alter or cut threads (human lives). However, the Spinster with the most power is the Creweler. She has the ability to create material and weave it into Arras; without her abilities, Arras would cease to exist. But Adelice doesn't actually attend many lessons. She is either being punished for speaking out against Maela (the instructor bent on making Adelice's life miserable), or swept away to be the escort of Cormac Patton (an upper-level Guild official with an uncomfortable fondness for her). There must be a reason Adelice receives this much attention...and isn't killed for her insolence.
 
Soon, Adelice is forced to make a decision. Not only about whether she should stay at the Coventry of Spinsters or try to escape, but between the two guys who have caught her eye while there. A dystopian trilogy wouldn't be complete without a love triangle, right? But there IS a twist.
 
Exploring the intricacies of Albin's world is fascinating. Her descriptions of Adelice's ability to weave the threads that hold everything together is incredibly compelling, I had difficulty putting down the book, and even when I did, I have to admit that I tried squinting to see if I too could manipulate reality. Although, it did take me a while to accept "Spinster" as the title for the most beautiful and powerful women --- they aren't allowed to get married, so I guess it is relevant, if not distracting. 
 
It is certain that CREWEL contains the same traits as many within its genre: love triangle, overarching government, ambitious villains and tons of violence. It reminds a lot of THE GIVER and THE HUNGER GAMES because there is a strong, intelligent female protagonist who is specifically selected for a unique position that her society's existence depends upon, with dash of rebellion simmering beneath the surface. However, Aldin's world has a very distinct division of power between the sexes, and a pulling force in the narrative is the inequality between men and women. This is fresh and question-provoking. Who really has control?  

Reviewed by Liz Kossnar on September 21, 2012

Crewel
by Gennifer Albin

  • Publication Date: October 16, 2012
  • Genres: Dystopian, Fiction, Young Adult 12+
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
  • ISBN-10: 0374316414
  • ISBN-13: 9780374316419