Crewel

Crewel - This whole book is just a hot mess that I can barely make sense of. I was highly uncomfortable while reading it, due to the overt misogyny and patriarchy. The book was, of course, intentionally creating a patriarchal society, so a lot of the things that made me uncomfortable were supposed to do so. On the other hand, it's really hard to tell the divide between on-purpose and accidental misogyny in this book. There's so many little things that I read in this book, so many lines and comments, that made me pause and think "did she really mean to write that?" Plus, there's the non-worldbuilding/meta aspects, like how every woman who has any amount of ambition is literally described as 'evil,' while only those who are shoved haplessly into power are deserving of it. Or how every female character (save for three, but two are gay and one is old) is described as vapid, shallow, vain, greedy, or stupid. Basically, if you're not Adalice but you are viable sexual competition, then you're evil. And that had nothing to do with the worldbuilding, that was all the book's own anti-feminism. On top of that, the book didn't really do anything with that misogyny. It was just...there. Adalice rarely chaffed under it, and there wasn't any attempt to criticize it. It wasn't even relevant to the story. It was just...there. Perhaps it will be utilized more in later novels, but it left a bad taste in my mouth for this one.There are two gay characters in this novel, which I was happy to see at first...until they both died. It's hard enough to find positive homosexual role-models in teenage literature, and harder still to see them actually survive and be happy. For all the book tried to make them 'good' (and instead made them genuflecting set pieces revolving around the main character), the 'kill off all the gays' trope has been long established, is very insulting, and really has no business getting perpetuated. Plus, the discussion about gays and gay marriage just seemed...off. They bring it up, and the bad guy goes on about how it would destroy family values and all that, and Adalice just sort of says 'nu-uh,' but without any valid counter-arguments. (Of which there are plenty.) It feels like the author knows this is the right thing to say, but she doesn't know why, so she glossed over the whole issue.The plot didn't exist. Just straight-up didn't exist. Adalice didn't do anything the whole book. She didn't want to do anything the whole book. She had no goal. She had no agency. She was torn from her home and her family and put in the Coventry and then...just sort of went along with it. There was some tepid talk of escape, and the men around her acted like there was some sort of urgency, but there wasn't. It was practically a slice-of-life novel. There was talk of a rebellion...once. And then nothing was done with it. Adalice doesn't even try and escape or give any serious thought to until the last 50 pages, when she's threatened with rape. Really, the whole thing is just stuff happening around her, until finally it was time for a climax so one got shoved in.And, while parts of the world were very interesting, others were just confusing. Like, Adalice's parents don't want her to be a Spinster, but we're never told why. They seem to know that it's a terrible fate because...??? Because she can't get married? Because...I don't know, that's all I got. Girls don't have any more agency outside the Coventry than inside is, as they're assigned to menial jobs and have no control over their own lives, so supposedly there's something terrible about being a Spinster, but I never quite caught on to what it was. 'Ripping,' maybe, that does sound bad, but that's a minor part of the job that only a few people do. And in that case, how did her parents find out about it? We don't find out in this book. And that's fine, if we're to have it addressed in a later installment, but why didn't Adalice ever wonder how they knew? Why did she never stop to question why everyone else thinks Spinsterhood is awesome, but her parents didn't?And there's just a downright weird amount of make-up-hate in this novel.