A review by kitvaria_sarene
The Gilded Ones, by Namina Forna

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


This is straddling between upper YA or lighter (in prose and story, not in content or violence) adult in my eyes.

For an adult book it did lack a bit of depth to characters and plot here and there. However if I judge it as a YA book, I don't mind as it made for a much quicker and more immediately gripping read. So if you wonder about this title, and you don't like some typical YA tropes and a fast pace that might leave out some details for the benefit of being easier accessible, then it might not be for you. If you like YA and adult books, and don't mind quote some violence and gore, then yes, this might be for you!

While it had, as I said, some of the typical tropes of YA, it also avoided some of those and even turned some around.
I especially enjoyed that while there *is* a love story, most of it happens off page. This book is about finding your place in the world, your identity, and reliable friends and loyalties. The focus is never on the love story, but on the society and the struggles within it. 

Feminism, racism, xenophobia, misogyny and quite some other problematic themes are included here - and I thought they were well handled. I liked the "moral" of the story being something that just comes along with the plot, and didn't just feel like being pointed at what you should think.

The character development part of that same topic fell a bit flat at times. As in the characters learning something, and just going "ok" and changing their whole worldview within what seems like minutes. 
That's not always the case, some other bits slowly evolve, like the friendships and bonds between them. So it's a bit of a flaw, but not too much of one.

The end was a bit disappointing to me, as it just all seemed...
Too easy? Too quick? Not so much the "how it ended", but more like it being rushed a bit. The same as mentioned before, it just is a bit too fast paced for its own good and lacks a little bit of depth again.

What I did like however is that this story is closed enough that you could read it as a stand alone, but has enough new open questions to also allow a sequel telling what happens next. 

All in all it was a quick, gripping and thought provoking read I definitely enjoyed, despite some flaws!

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