Reading. Reviewing. Reacting.
Chapter by Chapter.
Read-Along of previous chapters can be found right over here.
Today, I return to read the third chapter of Soundless with you. It’s been quite some time since the last Let’s Read!, and I’m terribly sorry about that! I didn’t think that time passed by so quickly. It’s a terrible and oft-repeated mistake, urk.
Anyway, time to return to Super Obvious Fei and Older-But-Appears-Younger Zhang Jing (out of topic-ish, but my brain suddenly translated ‘Zhang Jing’ as ‘Dirty Silence’, hahaha ˉ̶̡̭̭ ( ´͈ ᗨ `͈ ) ˉ̶̡̭̭ ).
“BOTH LI WEI AND HIS FATHER are on my mind that night when Zhang Jing and I return to the school. Seeing her reminds me of Bao and how both of them are trying so desperately to hide their blindness from the rest of the village. How many others are like that? How many other villagers are making a slow descent into darkness?” (p.32)
At this point of the book, I have to ask: am I the only one who’s beginning to find the narrative boring by now? Mead’s words just feel so…dull—like there’s no greater chore than filling up paragraphs with fillers just to ‘flesh’ out a generic YA plot so that it’ll be a book that’ll still sell because somehow, tried and true is better than expand/discover and try? Well, whatever floats her boat, I guess.
“I dream I am walking in a field of pink orchids, just like I imagined earlier. They transform into chrysanthemums, and the richness of their petals is intoxicating, making me run my fingers through them.” (p.33)
Wow, pink orchids. Wow, more chrysanthemums. From a flower that conveys the meaning of pure affection to traditional Chinese funeral flowers. Wow, so much wow. Oh, look—
“What happens next is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, a sensation that’s almost like a vibration and yet something more. It seems to reach a apart of my brain I didn’t even know existed.” (p.34)
Well, it’s confirmed. Fei is yet another Special Snowflake among an ocean of other Special Snowflakes.
Really, what’s wrong with just leaving her deaf? In fact, what’s wrong with being deaf? Like can a deaf character not be able to hold up even the most typical YA plot ever? Can a deaf character not be just as great (or greater) than the other ‘average’ YA heroines? I have an aunt who’s nearly deaf and even though we have to shout to get her to understand what we’re saying at times, she’s still brilliantly awesome and perhaps even the happiest aunt out of all of my 30+ aunts as well. And sure, I know I should expect Fei regaining her hearing since it’s written at the back of the book, but that doesn’t mean I can’t wish for more books with more diverse characters (or that some authors would conduct proper research before trying to venture into unknown waters), no? Geez Louise, I’m going to hunt for a book or two with more diverse main character(s) after this.
“Increasing agitated, I remember how covering my ears with the pillow last night reduced stimuli. I put my hands over my ears now, and to my amazement, things mercifully fade once more. Even though the reprieve is welcome, my heart races as the implications slam into me. What I’m perceiving when two object hit each other, the way my ears respond…it’s almost like the way the old writings describe…
Okay, the description and all is kind of cool here. I’m intrigue, that’s for sure.
…Though, this unfortunately, doesn’t mean that I like Fei any better. Especially after reading the following part:
“You are unwell? Elder Chen’s hands sign in front of me.
I realize my hands are still pressed to my ears, and I quickly lower them. It’s just a headache, I lie. It’s nothing.
His sharp eyes take me in for a few moments and then turn to my work. Even I can see the imperfections. My mortification increases when he takes up the brush himself and repairs some of my sloppiness. When he finishes, he tells me, Stay back today and rest.
I feel my eyes widen in astonishment. We’ve been taught that doing one’s duty is crucial. Only the direst of illnesses should keep us in bed. The miners, whose work keeps us alive, never get days off.” (p.37)
Gee, people who work in direr conditions than you can’t get rest should they come down with a raging fever or the likes, but you get a day off simply because you’ve gotten a ‘headache’ and that “[y]ou are one of the most talented artists [Elder Chen has] seen in a long time” (p.38)? Well, I bet that if the miner is one of the most talented miners seen in a long time, they’ll force him to continue mining (slaving) through his pounding headache—even if said headache develops into a delirious fever or something like that—simply because him being the best means an increase in “precious metals”.
Now, since Fei has been given leave for the rest of the day, she goes and gets the medicinal tea and instead of resting, heads to the library to research her ‘condition’ instead. Okay, here’s comes a load of descriptions about sounds and whatnot, blah, blah, blah…And I have another question. Even though the village is deaf, can they not feel the vibrations sounds make? By being able to differentiate vibrations, Fei should also be able to differentiate a “clang” from a “bang” since the vibrations produced by such sounds are different, no (p.42)?
Now goodness, again with the pixius. I talked about back in my Read-Along of Chapter One (it’s near the end of the post), and had there not been the sales pitch of “[a] breathtaking new fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore” for Soundless, I would’ve let the existence of pixius in this book carry on as though Mead had whipped them up from her imagination. But of course, there is such sales pitch, and Mead herself confirmed in page 43 of the book that her pixius are indeed píxiū by stating that the pixius resemble “winged lions” like how the píxiū. So, every time I read about the pixius, I can’t help but laugh.
“There is no place for blindness among the artists, Elder Lian declares, looking back at Zhang Jing. You’ve lost your apprenticeship. You must gather your things and leave.” (p.44)
Oh, no! Zhang Jing has been caught and she’s practically been fired! But what’s this? Fei has pleaded for her sister to stay at the Peacock Court as a servant instead? And, the elders agree? Heavens, Fei, do you know that you’ve just subjected your sister into a life of harsher judgement and more malicious rumors now that the other apprentices will constantly see her in her demoted state? She wont be given as much reprieve as she would’ve gotten should she have gone and became a miner instead.
“She comes to a halt and shakes her head sadly. Fei, we both know that’s not going to happen. I must accept this miserable fate now.
Miserable? But you were grateful back there.
Of course, she says. I had to be for the sake of your honor after you pleaded for me. But I would have rather walked away with my dignity and gone to the mines than slink around in the shadows of my former position.” (p.47)
See, Fei? Seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee? I know you don’t want Zhang Jing in danger and all that, but for someone who’s main job is to paint what she observes, you sure don’t seem to be able to join dots well. Seriously, I’m more disappointed in you now, Fei.
“When we get back to our room, we find another servant waiting for us. I’m here to show you to your new quarters, she explains to Zhang Jing. You will sleep with the servants now.
Zhang Jing’s earlier calm turns to embarrassment, and her face reddens. The other girls stop and gawk at this news, and it’s all I can do not to shake my fists or kick something in my rage.” (p.48)
Also, were all the girls facing servant here? ‘Cause for all of them to be able to see what the servant is signing well enough for them to gawk is pretty amazing.
Have you read this book already? What are your thoughts about it? I’d love to know!