Reviews tagging Trafficking

The Gilded Ones, by Namina Forna

20 reviews

catphilli's review

Go to review page

adventurous challenging dark emotional inspiring 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

4.75

What a little gem of a book! I didn’t know anything about this book before buying it based on its gorgeous cover design 😂 Such a fantastic story that I think all young women should read - very hunger games esque just more whimsical. Very high praise coming from a hunger games stan. The commentary this book makes on society, sexism, racism and abuse is so powerful and easy to devour. It’s also a beautiful emotional story and is incredibly written throughout. Definitely a great one for me to dip my toe back into YA fiction!! 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

messy_shelves's review

Go to review page

adventurous 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


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

evilcallie's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous challenging dark slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

2.5

 
I have very mixed feelings about this book. I wanted very much to like it, and I do find the story itself to be interesting and unique. However, I do think there are a lot of flaws in the writing of it that, at least when listening to it, really stand out and heavily reduced my enjoyment of it. I ended up listening to it on 1.75 speed just to finish it.

The story itself, a society where some of the women have "tainted blood" that identify them as demons, that is also fighting off a race of creatures that seem to attack humans without cause, was interesting. The beginning of the book was, for me, actually really strong in establishing the world and society that the main character is a part of. It was once the main character, her mentor, and her soon-to-be best friend arrive in the capital that the book slowed down, and the flaws that were not as visible in the first several chapters became really prominant.

One of the biggest challenges I have with the book is that the main character doesn't really have any character growth. Yeah, her allegiances do change in the book, but they don't seem to come from any real internal growth, but from an "oh, these people have told me something that differs from what other people told me, this new thing must be true" split second decision. She sometimes in the story has flashes of questioning, but those are immediately ignored and never thought about again, at least in what we see, so when the climax of the story happens, it just... doesn't really feel real.

There are also writing inconsistencies in the book, including moments where the character seems to learn, or thinks about, something that she had learned chapters or pages earlier.

I haven't decided whether I will read the next book when it comes out. 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

solicitude's review

Go to review page

adventurous challenging emotional inspiring 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

This was wonderful! I enjoyed how the patriarchy and misogyny were explored because there were aspects of misogyny that I hadn't previously seen depicted.

The way women are pit against each other for social capital,
Spoilerthe erasure of their contributions to society, and eventual demonization as time passes...
These were all portrayed with great care, and I am still in awe of how Namina Forna was able to cover so many facets of misogyny without it feeling overwhelming or disjointed for me, the reader.

In particular, Forna's portrayal of how Deka, the protagonist, initially felt guilt for being divinely strong and physically/athletically gifted was so touching for me since a large part of why she felt that way was due to how her village elders weaponized religion against her, instilling an instinctive sort of guilt that would follow her even if she was fighting for her life. When she learned to let go of this guilt, I felt just as free as her, and I understood exactly how she felt because there was no point in hiding what made her stand out, what made her be ostracized from the rest of her peers when her life was on the line. I think plenty of women and minority groups in general understand how it feels to hold yourself back for the sake of someone else's comfort or because you feel guilt for being so unabashed in what you were once punished for. Even when it's viewed as an advantage, it's hard to unlearn all the shame you're meant to feel, and the moment Deka pushes past the shame and puts herself first, I can feel her exhilaration.

This book steers away from making "both sides" (men and women) seem equally terrible.
SpoilerWhile women are fighting back with physical force, it isn't as if men are being killed for being men, and I appreciate that Forna doesn't fall into the trap of trying to make it seem like there is a lesson in showing that women fighting against their oppressors is morally wrong because they've made it clear that they would not listen to reason. Women had their status and peace violently ripped from them, so they're now trying to gain their humanity back, and sometimes the main conflict being left described as that is fine.


In summary, this was a stellar critique of misogyny and the patriarchy. The world building is marvelous, and the way the plot unravels so elegantly to reveal things that I had suspected leading up to those moments is simply gorgeous. This is the feminist fairytale we all deserve.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

pagethatreads's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous challenging dark emotional lighthearted mysterious sad tense medium-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? Yes

4.0

“The way I see it, we all have a choice right now. 
Are we girls, or are we demons?
Are we going to die, or are we going to survive?”

---

Sixteen year old Deka lives in fear of the Ritual of Purity that determines whether she will be allowed to remain in her village. If she bleeds red, she will truly belong. 
But when the day comes, she bleeds gold - the colour of impurity, a demon. 
It’s a fate worse than death. 

Until a mysterious woman appears, retrieving girls like Deka to join the emperor's army and face the empire’s greatest threat. 

This is Namina Forna’s debut novel and considering that fact, it did not disappoint.

Deka starts off as a meek, sweet natured farm girl living in a tiny village in the country's far north. She is deeply religious, but suffers from being considered an outcast for the colour of her skin. As the story progresses and Deka is exposed to new circumstances and situations, she begins having revelations about the way that she was raised and who she is as a person. Seeing her perspective gradually change as she grows into herself through her experiences was definitely a highlight for me.

Another thing I really appreciated with this story are the bonds that Deka forms with other women. It is very much a story of female empowerment, women lifting other women up and taking back their power from their past traumas. Sadly, despite being portrayed as a strong, tight knit group of women, some of their characters did feel a little underdeveloped, although I’m hoping that will be rectified as the series continues. 

There was a romantic aspect to the story that came across as endearing, but vague. 
This aspect was touched on lightly throughout the story, but never fully embraced.

The Gilded Ones suffers for its use of common YA tropes and a general feeling of predictability. There are scenes of graphic violence, racism,  internalised misogyny and female oppression. Overall though, it held a solid story that is definitely worth the read. 

 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

betweentheshelves's review

Go to review page

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

4.0

There is so much to love about this book! The world felt fresh to me, even if some of the tropes are repeats from other YA fantasies. Deka's voice was strong and really helped to carry the story. Even if the ending was slightly predictable for me, I didn't mind. The plot and the characters really helped to balance that out.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

danni_chambers67's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous challenging dark emotional hopeful informative 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

4.5

The characters were interesting and really well developed (most the time) for me. I found myself really caring for them and really wanting to see them through the book change and improve as people. 

The world building was amazing I really believed the place and in the society. And thought, it had interesting themes in the world and in the book. The history of the world felt developed and easy to believe and understand. The writing style was amazing and helped me love the characters and the world.

I loved the inclusion. And the discussion of certain themes such as feminism, racism, there were several POC characters, and LGBT+ characters. The was a lot of diversity in the book.

My only complaint and why it is not five stars is too do with the ending and revelations.
SpoilerI thought some actions of characters which we were told where cunning seemed stupid and not thought through this meant I was pulled out of the story and broke some of the themes for me. Also some actions where justified which I felt couldn't be or needed more explanation in order for these to be justified. Again pulling me from the story and characters. I do feel this will be built on in the next book which is what I am hoping for


Overall, I loved the book and the themes. I would really recommend and really think it is worth a read.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

breading_books's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous inspiring mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

3.5


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