Synopsis (From Good Reads):
For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so 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. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation.
One girl hears a call to action…
Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon.
She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever
What an intriguing premise: an entire village of people who cannot hear. Why have they lost their hearing? What adaptations do they use to work together? I really found this whole society to be fascinating.
What I liked:The society:
I loved how this book shows how the people work together so that everyone could understand what is going on. Fei is an apprentice chronicler. Each morning she, and other apprentices, disperse around the area to observe the doings of the village. Later, the students commence to write and illustrate scrolls to inform the rest of the village about what is happening.
While this is a beautiful aspect of the society, there is also a darker side to the village. Food is received in exchange for the metal produced in the mines. Because food is so scarce, anyone who cannot work is left to become a beggar.
The Love Story:
There is a caste system in this culture. As an artist, Fei is in a higher rank, while her childhood love, Li Wei, is a miner and considered to be lower in importance. Since this is the case, they cannot marry. This is a small village and they can't really avoid each other for very long.
I loved how the two young people are drawn to each other. They are destined to be together so it's only a matter of time before they must find a way to be together. This part of the story was so sweet and romantic.
What I didn't like:The fantasy element:
Prior to the introduction of the magical aspect of the story, the novel had a plausible explanation to why everyone is deaf, an why the village is in such dire straights. Then the author had to introduce Fei having a psychic connection to magical creatures. These creatures could be the key to helping the entire community survive. This book didn't need mythical creatures and magic to assist the village. I really would have preferred a more realistic solution to their problems. The supernatural creatures took the reader out of the story.
This was still a lovely book of what someone will do to save their family. The beautiful settings and characters make up for the silly ending.
Release Date: November 10th, 2015
Source: Public Library
Recommendation: A quick read with a dreamlike quality, this is an escapist tale you will enjoy.