Reviews tagging Xenophobia

The Gilded Ones, by Namina Forna

16 reviews

cereads's review

Go to review page

adventurous emotional funny hopeful inspiring mysterious 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


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

cupidities's review

Go to review page

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

3.5

The Gilded Ones is solid YA fantasy, and it does what (in my opinion) YA fantasy does best: using another world to challenge readers' perspectives on our own world. I can also see why this has gotten as much buzz as it has - the story is excellent, Deka is a strong character, the worldbuilding is awesome - but I never really got emotionally invested in the story. 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

booksfrombed's review

Go to review page

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

3.75


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

rendz's review

Go to review page

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

4.0

Full RTC! But this was really good!

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

beautifullybookishbethany's review

Go to review page

dark emotional mysterious sad fast-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

Actual rating: 4.5 stars

The Gilded Ones is an ambitious YA debut that verges on dark fantasy as it takes on war, violence, trauma and xenophobia from within a deeply patriarchal, oppressively religious society. This is a book I've been anticipating for a very long time and while it wasn't perfect, it was very, very good.

Deka is awaiting a ritual ceremony that will determine whether her blood is pure. If it runs red, she will become a full-fledged woman and begin covering her face. If it runs gold, she has demon blood and will be subjected to execution or joining the emperors army. (hint: it's not red) 

I don't want to say too much about what happens because this is a book that really sucks you in and is quite fast paced. However, you should know that this book contains a great deal of violence and can be quite disturbing at times. Death, torture, dismemberment, sexual assault, war violence, etc. is throughout. (although most of the sexual assault occurs off page, we see a lot of the ptsd that results from it) The world is interesting, the magic is interesting, and there are great characters with strong bonds of sisterhood. It grapples with difficult subjects and explores topics including how children can be drawn into battle, the trauma and coping mechanisms we see in those exposed to such brutality, and the ways that oppressive teachings can enable violence against women and self-hatred. Thematically this is incredibly rich and does not flinch from difficult experiences. 

However, I did struggle a bit with the ending. Though to be fair it's got to be tough to really nail the landing in such an ambitious project for a first time author. That said, some of the twists at the end weren't fully explained, nor were all of their ramifications adequately dealt with. Characters accepted things too easily and there weren't enough obstacles before things wrapped up in a relatively tidy bow. I don't want to get more specific than that because of spoilers, but suffice to say that most of this book was SO good, I had very high expectations of what the ending was going to do. And while the ending was fine, it was a bit of a letdown. Otherwise, this probably would have been a favorite of the year. That said, I still think this is well worth your time and Namina Forna is an author to keep an eye on! I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings
More...