A review by bluejayreads
Did not finish book. Stopped at 15%.
The Gilded Ones, by Namina Forna
I desperately wanted to love this book. It has so many things that I should love. A blood ritual to test if you have red or gold blood, a main character with gold blood that gives her magic powers and near-immortality, said main character going off to learn to fight in an army of girls who also have gold blood and magic powers. There's also scary inhuman creatures invading the country and something that could shape up into a really fascinating religion, and to top it all off the cover is absolutely gorgeous. These are all things I should have loved.
But I didn't. I couldn't, no matter how much I wanted to adore all the concepts. The book seemed afraid that I would dislike not knowing everything at the beginning so it gave me info-dump tangent after info-dump tangent. Deka had a friend because she said they were friends. There was a mean girl because Deka told you she was mean. Both of these characters hardly interacted with Deka, but she went on exposatory rambles anyway explaining her backstory with these characters to the reader - and neither of them come up again after they're introduced. Deka's anxiety about possibly being proven impure at the blood ritual never shines through as actual emotion, simply another thing Deka says among the vast reams of other things she's telling you. Even an attack on her village that leads to a bunch of people dying is a sequence of "this happened, then than happened," no emotion coming through on the page despite Deka telling you she was feeling emotions.
I don't think I've ever been quite so heartbroken about not finishing a book. I thought I would adore this. I deeply wanted to adore it. But I couldn't. Despite how fantastic the concepts and ideas here are, the execution is just so profoundly uninteresting that, with a heavy heart, I'm leaving it here.
Graphic: Torture, Death, Blood, and Confinement
Minor: Body horror