For an incredibly sensory experience of the world, for a common plot executed in a unique way
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.
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…
A few decisions didn’t make sense to me and seemed like plot holes, but overall I enjoyed this unique implementation of a common plot of exploitation and world changing secrets about everything you know. I was more than willing to suspend disbelief to enjoy the adventure and revelation.
The ending pivoted in fairly quickly in the last twenty percent or so and I wish there had been a little bit more hinted earlier to lead to it. As it was, it felt a little abrupt and strange to get key details only in the last act, but I guess that’s the experience the character has too so I certainly do empathize!
There’s a romance in this, but it’s heavily secondary to the story. A few scenes address it and there’s a resolution at the end, but it’s more foil to the story than the story itself. There’s a strong bond between the sisters even though they aren’t together for a chunk of time. Family and community is a driving theme throughout it.
I loved the depiction of the world and senses. Our MC is an incredibly talented artist, and that’s shown in the poetic descriptions of the world and all they encounter. The descriptions of silk in particular were lush and I could vividly imagine the cold smoothness of it on my hands, slipping easily. And with an obvious focus on hearing and sight and discovery of sense, it had all that much stronger of an impact.
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Okay, so about 25% of the way through the book I stopped and was like: wait a second, this is a town with a population of about 80% miners. Why didn’t they just use their tools, knowledge, and numbers to dig through the freakin’ pass blockage? Or mine a tunnel through elsewhere? I felt like there were a lot of other obvious things to attempt that were ignored. There was a brief throwaway line around halfway through that said something vague about how it was too hard to mine through for some reason, but that felt like a weak reason.
Y’all, I DID NOT expect freakin’ pixius to magically appear out of nowhere! That is definitely not where I thought the story was heading, although in retrospect they were mentioned a few times. I didn’t give them any weight. I got worried toward the end that it would lead to a series instead of a standalone. That wouldn’t be awful since it was a good book, but I had been expecting a resolution and didn’t want to be left hanging. xD