Reading. Reviewing. Reacting.
Chapter by Chapter.
Read-Along of Chapter One can be found right over here.
Remember when I said that I’ll simply be looking for entertainment value in Soundless in the last post? Well, thank the Lords because reading this book in the state of complete seriousness would’ve driven my critical reader-self over the brink of insanity.
Why? On to the second chapter!
“Before I can, I am knocked to the side by yet another person rushing past. He wears the dull clothes of a miner and strides right up to Sheng and the others, blocking their way. When I realize who this newcomer is, my breath catches, and I feel as though the very ground beneath my feet has shifted, knocking me off-balance.
It is Li Wei.” (p.14-15)
A wild LOVE INTEREST has appeared!
What will ARIA throw? [BALL | BAIT | ROCK | RUN]
“Sheng and the suppliers hesitate. Although the numbers are in their favor, Li Wei is unquestionably one of the biggest and strongest in our village.Muscles gained from long hours of grueling work in the mines cover his arms, and he towers over them by nearly a head. He stands straight and tall, his tough body braced and ready for a fight. He doesn’t fear three-to-one odds. He wouldn’t fear ten-to-one odds.” (p.15)
In fact, throw all the rocks on the ground at him, because Fei, my dear, do you really have to be a typical YA heroine? I mean, I get that people fall for people when the latter has some admirable qualities and all that jazz but goodness, Fei’s like the nth heroine to fall for a strong, brave man? Can I please get a hero who isn’t instantly strong and brave? Who doesn’t have those ingrained into his being? Can I please get a book about a girl, falling in love with a boy who needs help carrying two huge boxes of incredibly heavy books—a boy who’d rather take flight than fight because he knows he’ll be beaten to an inch of his life if he ever dares to face the bullies making fun of his crush? A boy who later learns to be brave and strong because it doesn’t feel right having his lover being the only brave and strong one in the relationship, or anything just like that? Because I’m very much itching for a book with ‘reversed’ roles right now. *sighs*
Also, why must Sheng be one of those typical bullies? Can I get a story where rival (is Sheng the rival?) to the heroine’s true love interest, actually be a nice guy? It’s understandable that there has to be a foil character to make another look better or something—that someone needs to be the Draco Malfoy to their Harry Potter, but I think reading about two Harry Potters vying for the attention of one lucky person would be a really refreshing read too. Or you know what, how about one Harry Potter and one Cedric Diggory trying to obtain the love of one Cho Chang?
(Other than that, although Fei and Li Wei’s love isn’t really counted as instant-love considering that fact that they’ve known each other since childhood [see page 17], I can’t shake the feeling that it’s instant-love. Oh, and while we’re on that page, seriously, Mead? Shy girl falls in love with sun-like boy? Ugh.)
“Zhang Jing is a year older than me, and we have been nearly inseparable our entire lives, sharing everything.” (p.17)
Are you kidding me? Am I the only one who’s been getting the whole ‘Zhang Jing is younger than Fei’ vibe because the former simply acts like she’s the younger sister or something?? What in the world? I’m not okay, but okay. I’ll swallow down all my questions for this one.
But, I’m bringing back my previous point in the last post for this part:
“She knows immediately what I’m referring to and answers with a weary face. I don’t know. A while. Months. It wasn’t that bad at first—just the occasional hazy spells. Now those spells are more frequent and more intense. On some days, I can still see perfectly. On other days, things are so blurred and distorted I can’t make any sense of them.” (p.19)
Really, how is one who’s going blind able to read sign language clearly during such episodes? How did she perfectly comprehend Fei communicating with her, back in chapter one when she couldn’t even tell that her brushstrokes were off, that the lines of whatever she was doing were crooked and some of the hues she used were off?
Also, is “balance” an actual, legitimate reason for someone to send less food to a village who can neither grow nor catch food to survive on their own? In a situation like the one in Soundless, both villages involved are rather dependent on each other. One receives food by trading “precious metals”, another receives materials that can be used to earn profit greater than the cost of the food their providing in exchange (p.10). In fact, it looks like one got the shorter end of the stick so that’s certainly not “balance” right over there.
‘ The keeper says: “You receive less food because you send less metal. If you want more food, send more metal. That is balance. That is honor. That is harmony in the universe.” ‘ (p.21)
‘“What you have suggested is an insult to the generosity we have shown you these long years. As punishment, rations will be reduced for the next week. perhaps then you will better understand balance.” ‘ (p.21)
So yeah, not only does the above conflict with Confucius’ teachings, but it gives off the feeling that Mead is trying to aim for a mini dystopia (you know, like the ones in YA books that use rather illogical reasons to why the society/world in their book has become a dystopia?) instead of a proper poor village at the mercy of more fortunate ones.
Now, blah, blah, blah…The love interest reappears with his father at page 25 (Even Fei is “…astonished to encounter him twice in one day”)! Oh, they’re arguing? Oh, what, his father is one of the villagers going blind too? What a coincidence! Fei has a family member with that same condition as well! Really Mead, are you trying to have Fei and Li Wei suddenly becoming close friends(again)/lovers via the ‘misery loves company’ route? Sighs. The romance here is getting ridiculous.
Oh great, and now we have an angry Li Wei who hurts himself by taking his anger out on a poor tree (really, what has it ever done to you? It’s just trying to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen!), and a silly Fei who rushes to his aid.
“It’s a pigment for a special type of paint. We make the color from a root that also has medicinal properties. I saw my master use it once on another wound. It will prevent infection.” (p.27-28)
Wow, useless apprentice much? You don’t even know what’s the name of the plant which the root came from? How in the world will you ever make your own paints if there’s ever the need? Because hey, the pigments aren’t even part of the trade between villages, right? So, somebody in your village has to be the one harvesting things to make pigment, and if s/he’s only one person and s/he goes blind too, don’t you have to make your own pigments? Shaking my head.
“If I get in trouble, so be it, I say at last. I make my own decisions.
That’s not what I remember.” (p.28)
See? Naive Fei couldn’t even make her own decisions until recently, like when her sister starts going blind and she suddenly sees more of Li Wei again, and wooooow, coincidences.
Oh and isn’t this line, “Artists only marry other artists” a part of the illogical things pertaining a dystopia formed through illogical reasonings (p.30)? And really, do you need to take another length of time (that closely resembles ‘forever’) to understand that the system that “traps Bao and others in the mines” and also “kept Li Wei and [you] apart” is one and the same, Fei (p.30)? Talk about being completely absorbed in your own bubble much.
One last problem I have with this chapter, did Li Wei have to choose now to carve a bloody “remarkable” chrysanthemum on the stump Fei has claimed for her job? It’s supposed to be an offering of apology, and what, he only does that now? Coincidences, coincidences. Moreover, Mead, are you even aware that chrysanthemums are used in the Buddhist culture as offerings on altars because they symbolizes powerful Yang energy? That white chrysanthemums are symbolic of lamentation and grief, and that yellow chrysanthemums are also a traditional funeral flower? In fact, it is only in the presence of altars and funerals that I see an abundance of chrysanthemums. Neither I nor the older members of my (extended) family has ever seen this flower making an appearance in any other situation, much less it being offered to another living person.
Have you read this book already? What are your thoughts about it? I’d love to know!