Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Posted November 6th, 2012 in book review / 14 comments


Book #1 of the Crewel World Series

by Gennifer Albin

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (October 2012)
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Format: Paperback /ARC (368 pages)
Source: Won from Publisher
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 stars)

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back. ~ Add on Goodreads

At A Glance
I was drawn into this story right away. It was unique, scary, and beautiful. I was just often disappointed in Adelice’s actions and behavior. (Warning: there will be spoilers in this review because it cannot be helped. I have to reveal some of the story so I can talk about what I loved/hated about it)

The Good
Here’s The Story…
No matter how hard Adelice tried to hide her talent, she couldn’t help but use her weaving abilities at the wrong time, in front of the wrong people. Now the Guild will come for her and she will become a Spinster, a weaver of time and matter. When they finally come, all hell breaks loose. In a matter of minutes she loses most of her family and is taken away from all she knows to work for people who don’t have her best interest in mind. The Guild needs to maintain control, to keep their secrets, and the spirited Adelice threatens all of that. If only she wasn’t so important, so vital to their “cause.” But she is and that means she won’t go down without a fight.

How to start? Ummm, WOW! Yeah, I like that. It’s accurate and fitting. Just…WOW! What the hell did I just read? I have never read a book like this. It was eerie in its concept, fascinating in its cruelty, and awe-inspiring in its beauty. I couldn’t put it down. After the hundreds of books I have read in the past four years, this one blew my mind with its premise and creativity. I want to live in Albin’s head just for one day to see what other stuff she can come up with. I mean, come on!! A world in which specially picked young girls become the weavers of time and matter. What. The. Hell? It’s both complicated but simple. Anyone could have thought of it but Albin brought it to life.

Makes You Think…
We simply can’t have the creators of life not be controlled by a horribly corrupt organization now can we? Crewel makes you wonder. How do you stop a group of people who wipe out people’s memories or lives just to keep their power? They have such a tight rein over everything. They segregate living arrangements and assign jobs based on gender, they portion control food, and they marry together whoever the hell they want to. The world no longer has a choice in its path. And the benefit for all this manipulation and lack of choices? People now live in a world of peace. There is no violence or problems to face. Just put your life in the hands of the government and all will be well. Pffttt! Yeah, right (can you hear my sarcasm?). It is so easy to let others take care of us, to let them take care of everything, but at what cost does their control take? Shouldn’t we be able to question what the government decides is best for us even when on the outside they look to be making all the right decisions?

The Horrific Truth…
The writing was beautiful and the story was terrifying. Albin creates a descriptive world with love and hate. We see the extremes people will go for power as well as friendship. Albin does not hold back the horrific truth of the kind of world Adelice lives in. It has an outer shell of peace and serenity, while the inside is rotten to the core. How Adelice can survive is still mind-boggling.

In the beginning, Adelice reacts to her new situation like any of us would. But even with the fear, the loneliness, and the cruelty she gets introduced to, she finds a way to hold on to herself, to stay who she truly is. She is both strong and weak, human. She is one person against a whole organization. She gains friends and even allies but the Guild easily takes them away one way or the other. Adelice knows that though death is a scary thing, it might be the only peace she will find in her future. But with all that weighing down on her, she never completely crumbles or gives up. I give her credit for that.

I liked the constant unknown throughout this novel. We never know who Adelice can trust. We hope she can trust Jost and Erik, the two boys she has feelings for. She even has a mentor that seems to try to help her as best she can. It gives us some hope that this world is not a complete lost cause. That was my favorite part of the book. I never knew where it was going to go, who was truly evil or good. I had my eyebrows arching in surprise till the very end, now that’s a good sign.

The Bad
Surprisingly, it was the protagonist that bothered me the most. I loved Adelice. She wasn’t super dramatic or overly depressed, even though I think she might have been entitled to feel that way. She reminded me of what any of us would go through and feel if we were in the same situation. But as time went on I expected Adelice to become smarter, more active in her escape, or something. I feel like the majority of the time she was resigned to her fate and really didn’t do much until the last 30 pages of the novel. But what really irked me was how she treated the guy who had her parents murdered. Maybe it’s just me but I couldn’t be civil to the person who murdered my parents, no matter the consequences. So, I just couldn’t relate to Adelice for most of the novel.

Also, the love triangle was a little blah. I didn’t fall in love with either Jost or Erik. If you are looking for a book without another one of those dreaded love triangles, or at least a new spin on the love triangle, then this is not the book for you.

The Snuggly
We get some smooches and sexual tension but nothing overdone. This is very YA-ish and readable by most. Though the cruelty is pretty heavy.

Crewel wasn’t perfect. The love triangle is too much of an overused concept for such a unique book. But Albin has set herself up for one amazing series. I can’t wait to see what is going to happen next. Highly recommended.

“We have more important things to worry about.”
“Have we run out of mascara?” I ask in mock horror.


“You must make the hard choice, Adelice, before you can move forward.  Decisions must be made.  Often between life and death.  It is hard to make a decision to save thousands when it compromises one.”  Her voice is a hollow whisper, and ghosts echo in her eyes.  “It is easier not to be put in that position.”


I erase and rebuild the world in my sleep, and in the morning I try to remember how to rebuild myself. Every day I wonder how I can go back to the loom. Can I keep weaving now that I know?

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14 Responses to “Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin”

  1. Ashley

    AWESOME review Jen!! I felt really similar about the book. Your points about Adelice (in “The Bad” section) were really spot on and made a lot of sense. But even so, this book was such a crazy insane mindfuck. It’s one of the most unique and different books I’ve read in a long time.

  2. Sarah Elizabeth

    I know exactly what you mean about Adelie. I was totally torn over this book because I just wished that Adelice would take action! She just seemed to hide from her mistakes and problems which didn’t help her to solve them at all!
    I thought the two love interests were okay, but again – Adelice was far too trusting of both of them, and didn’t even consider that they might be using her!
    I’m hoping that maybe Adelice will be a bit more decisive in the second installment!

  3. Aman

    “Adelice knows that though death is a scary thing, it might be the only peace she will find in her future”. I’m very much intrigued. You review is like a teaser, I need to pick this book up soon.

  4. Sarah (saz101)

    Oh, Miss Bielman, WOW. “The writing was beautiful and the story was terrifying. [The world] has an outer shell of peace and serenity, while the inside is rotten to the core.”

    I’m SO intrigued by this book. I’ve been vacillating between ‘Read?’, ‘Don’t read?’, ‘Don’t know?’ BUT YOU. YOU MAKE IT SOUND GOOD. AND COMPELLING. AND AND AND… despite the bad. AMAZING review ♥

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