Reviews tagging Self harm

The Gilded Ones, by Namina Forna

9 reviews

ananko's review

Go to review page

adventurous dark emotional hopeful inspiring mysterious reflective sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

theespressoedition's review

Go to review page

adventurous challenging emotional slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

2.0

Well, I've discovered something about myself while reading this book: I don't care for war/warrior stories, especially when it comes to fantasy.

I realize a lot of my disinterest in this book stems from the audio because I wasn't a huge fan of the narration style. However, I also just didn't love the story itself. It felt like it dragged on, with an excess of description and lack of action. There was such a huge focus on what was so different about the MC that when the "big reveal" happened, it seemed like a letdown because it was nothing unusual.
SpoilerIf it had been a brand new creature of some sort, I would have been fascinated, but finding out that she was just the ruler/killer of the species was a bummer


Usually, at the end of a slower book that I didn't love, I still have an interest in reading the sequel. However, for this book, it didn't keep me interested enough to pick up the next book. I'm just not enthralled with the characters or what happens to them. 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

alannah_m's review

Go to review page

adventurous emotional hopeful medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.25

I would give my heart and soul for Britta, so jot that down.


This book was so compelling that I read it pretty much in one day. The characters were fantastic, and no spoilers but while a little predictable, I loved where the story went. While I’m taking .75 off for pacing, because I felt the ending was a little rushed, overall I really enjoyed this. At first I thought maybe it was a little too happy but, you know what? Why shouldn’t books be happy- especially right now.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

plumpaperbacks's review

Go to review page

adventurous challenging emotional mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

I went into The Gilded Ones expecting a fun fantasy story, and was surprised not only by its heavier themes but also by just how good it was from the very beginning.

This is one of the most unique, immersive stories I’ve read in some time. Forna created a brilliantly intricate world that, despite a few basic similarities to other fictional worlds, is overall unlike any I’ve read about before. The mythology is so vivid it nearly seems real, the creatures and setting so impressively creative, yet none of it is confusing or difficult to understand.

Forna outdid herself writing a complex, diverse and lovable cast of characters. Deka is a protagonist I rooted for as soon as I met her, and it took very little time for me to be equally charmed by her friends, Britta, Belcalis, and Adwapa. These girls have endured so many hardships and gotten stronger because of them, without losing their vulnerability or the best parts of their personalities. Not only were they all great on their own, but their friendship was phenomenal and so heartwarming. One of the best girl squads I’ve ever read about, undeniably.

I would say the romance was one of the best parts, but honestly, every part of this book could be described the same way. The romance is subtle until the final third of the book, when it becomes clear that Deka and Keita have feelings for each other that go beyond friendship. Their slow-burn romance is memorable because it’s written differently than those in so many other books. It’s focused not on passion and lust but a deep connection between two people, a tender, unwavering affection. I love them so much, more than I can express.

Although the ending was emotional in numerous ways, it wasn’t a cliffhanger, and I appreciate that very much. Even without one, I’m extremely eager for the second book. I’ll be eagerly awaiting any scrap of news I can find.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s spectacular in every aspect, and the fact that it’s Forna’s debut novel is mind-blowing. I can definitely see the Deathless trilogy becoming an all-time favorite, since the first book is already there. Highly, highly recommended for those who can handle the content.

Representation
  • Black protagonist
  • side characters of color (includes Black rep)
  • sapphic side characters
  • minor sapphic side romance (f/f)

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

thebooktender's review

Go to review page

adventurous challenging dark emotional fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.25


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

lanas_books's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous dark emotional inspiring tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

*ARC received in FairyLoot book box* 

[TRIGGER WARNINGS: death, dismemberment, sexual assault references, self-harm.]

I really enjoyed this book. It was very feminist, down-with-the-patriarchy and I loved it. The main character, Deka, goes from being this submissive girl, believing that she is not allowed to amount to anything because she’s female, to kicking some major boy butt and inspiring others along the way. There are strong female friendships which I always love seeing, not to mention strong female characters. There were a few plot twists, but there was a big one I never saw coming and I love what it added to the story. If you loved Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, you’ll definitely enjoy this book. This book also reminded me of the Amazon Warriors from Greek mythology. 

I don’t understand how this is Book 1 of a trilogy, but perhaps the final version of this book will have an ending that leads into Book 2. I look forward to reading the final version.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

bookishrealm's review

Go to review page

dark emotional reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

 This book…where does one begin with such a powerful book? This was a successful YA debut that truly captures the power of all women. CW: sexual violence (off page), extreme physical violence, misogyny, abuse, xenophobia, possible PTSD. 4.5 Stars

The Gilded Ones was one my most anticipated release of 2020. I was heartbroken when I discovered that it was going to be pushed back to this year. HOWEVER, it was definitely worth the wait. This book isn’t for the faint of heart. Forna has said time and time again in interviews that it is loosely based on her experiences growing up in Sierra Leone during the civil war. It is a clear representation of the atrocities that Forna and so many others faced. Additionally, it is the representation of the ill treatment that so many young women are required to face and combat.

The premise of the book is quite simple. Deka, the main character, along with the other eligible young woman in the village must go through a “blood-letting” ceremony in which they must prove their purity. Red blood is the equivalence of purity while gold blood signifies something more sinister. The consequences for gold blood are beyond any level of gruesome that I have seen exhibited in a young adult novel. Forna does not hold back for the sake of her readers and quite frankly I respected her boldness in storytelling. As Deka is revealed to have gold blood, she is presented with the opportunity to serve in the emperor’s army with other young women branded as the gilded ones. The story is fast paced and through the course of the text readers learn the intentions not only of the emperor, but also of the other men in this world. As expected, Forna utilizes this opportunity to explore what it means to be a woman in a patriarchal society, what it means to defy those who demean your worth. And she does a brilliant job of creating and sustaining this narrative in each page. The commentary was spot on and brilliant. And while I enjoyed this aspect of the book, I so heavily connected to the respect and admiration for the strong bonds of friendship created amongst these young women. There is an element of romantic love, but Forna’s attendance at Spelman College gave her the perfect insight to creating these dynamic relationships between the young women forced to work for the emperor. They have this passion for each other that’s undeniable and remarkable to see develop. They respect each other, admire each other, are vulnerable with each other in a way that I’ve never seen done before in a YA novel. For this, I give many thanks to Forna as a writer.

Of course, as with most novels I read there were a few things that I did not enjoy about this book. The first is in regard to the pacing. The pacing of The Gilded Ones can be viewed as having two different components. The first component, the literal passing of time, did not work well for me as a reader. There were time jumps in which days or weeks would past by and it was structured in a way that did not flow with the rest of the novel. The second component which was centered around the level of intensity at which Forna would present the text worked very well. It was constructed in a way that allowed Forna to acknowledge that she was challenging readers with a lot of difficult content. The novel would move fast with hardcore, intense, and albeit graphic violent scenes and would then slow down giving the reader time to recover and “breathe.” The final aspect of this book that I struggled with as a reader was the ending. It was written in a way that allows for the continuation of the series; however, the tidiness of it caused plot holes for other elements described earlier in the book. I walked away with a few questions that I’m hoping will be addressed in the second book.

Overall, I thought this was a great novel. The character development, plot development, and overall thematic explorations were AMAZING. It is clear that Forna put her heart and soul into the development of this book. Her experiences and her story are beautifully woven into this and I couldn’t have been more honored to read her work. I’m glad that she created this world for us to see into and get lost into while rooting on Deka and her friends/family. I highly recommend this book. 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

becandbooks's review

Go to review page

adventurous challenging dark emotional inspiring reflective tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

Find more at becandbooks.com!

The Gilded Ones was an absolutely fantastic, gripping and gut-wrenching fantasy story, as well as an astounding YA debut. I recommend this book to every fantasy reader out there - in particular, for readers looking for a book that is both fierce and powerful.

This book is stunning from the very beginning, as the reader is thrust into a gorgeous world of cultures and rituals. Deka is presented to her village as 'impure', by bleeding gold at the blood ceremony, which very quickly throws her life into a world of chaos and pain.

Forna does not hold back on the graphic nature of what her characters go through, throughout the book. Please heed the trigger warnings on this one. But rather than gore and violence for the sake of a dark and wartorn story, every moment is used to illustrate the influence of power, rituals, class and misogyny. This overarching narrative is what leads The Gilded Ones to be an incredibly striking story.

The characters themselves, are masterfully developed. Whether you are looking at the main character, Deka, or the side characters readers will develop a strong sense of understanding of the complexities and personalities of each person. The trauma of the characters is strongly and respectfully explored throughout the book, accurately playing a role in the choices and path for each character.

Despite all the incredible things that Forna pulls together, perhaps the highlight for me was the worldbuilding. It has been a long time since I picked up a YA fantasy that felt so truly unique and wholly engaging. From the lore of Gods and Demons that plays a dynamic role in the rituals of villages and underlies the treatment of those deemed impure, to the gorgeous creatures that are as unique and reverent as the regions they originate from.

This is a truly astounding book and one that I highly recommend. I can't wait to see where Forna takes the rest of the series.

Thank you to HarperCollins Publishing Australia for providing me with a copy of this book! This does not impact my opinions, whatsoever. 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

bibookworm's review

Go to review page

adventurous dark emotional mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

First off I would like to thank NetGalley, Delacorte Press, and Random House Children's for the ebook arc so I could have the chance to read and review this amazing book.

Now for the review! 5/5 Stars. The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna is a fresh new feminist fantasy that everyone will enjoy. First off let's discuss the world building. I have always loved fantasy, however sometimes the world building can seem very repetitive, but this was not the case for The Gilded Ones. The world building for this world was totally new and unique. It was also refreshing to see such a new and creative magic system fleshed out along with the world building. On top of the excellent writing the plot of the Gilded Ones is top tier. This book has everything you could ever want: women fighting oppression, LGBTQ+ representation, found family, and a romance that does not overpower the main character's story arc. This book made me smile, laugh, and cry. If you are looking for your new favorite fantasy series The Gilded Ones is what you need.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings
More...