Another review today!
Author: Christina Farley
Series: Gilded #1
Release date: 1st of March 2014
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Contemporary, YA, Fantasy
Published by: Skyscape
Pages: 352 pages in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle
Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting into a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god, Haemosu, has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she's next.
But that’s not Jae’s only problem.
There's also Marc. Irresistible and charming, Marc threatens to break the barriers around Jae's heart. As the two grow closer, Jae must decide if she can trust him. But Marc has a secret of his own—one that could help Jae overturn the curse on her family for good. It turns out that Jae's been wrong about a lot of things: her grandfather is her greatest ally, even the tough girl can fall in love, and Korea might just be the home she's always been looking for.
Now this was a pleasant surprise, a Korean mythology based YA set in Korea. I had to get my hands on this! Occasionally listening to kpop and watching their dramas has made me curious on their other cultural aspects, so I guess taking up this book as soon as I could humanly manage was something unavoidable. And it didn’t disappoint!
A heavy emphasis was set and basically everything revolved around the legend of a princess escaping this evil demigod who wanted her as his bride and didn’t take no for an answer even when she escaped, instead, starting to torment and abduct the descendants related to the princess. The mythology aspect was integrated and depicted perfectly, it gave such vivid color and a grand background for the events and led the storyline and characters, at the same time not being too dry or boring. It was quite fascinating to get to know about Korean mythology, their folk tales, mythical creatures and gods in more detail. I even had some recognition moments, because of the manhwa (Korean comics) I’ve loosely read in the past Bride of the Water God.
In a sense this story wasn’t anything entirely new or unheard of regarding its plot and characters. Girl gets mixed up in some out of the ordinary circumstances in a new country, meets a handsome boy, who might know more than he lets on, and together they try to defeat an evil force. So, nothing overly original, but I didn’t really fully register this basic pattern while reading. The characters were nice and distinct, and shockingly I didn’t find anyone grating-lightly-or-hardly-on-my-nerves annoying (this has never happened with me regarding any YA book before, because there is always someone I’d love to have disappear or shut up), the pace was decent (there weren’t any “awkward” phases) and the plot moved along fast and, as mentioned, the mythology kept me intrigued, so I didn’t linger on the typical and overused basic plot devices.
Other aspects I liked:
The use of Korean words, I even knew many of them! I feel so proud of myself!
Heaps of potential for more exciting books and directions to develop the plot and characters.
Addicting plot that made me finish it in only two gos (I’m the kind of person who needs sleep when night has come, however exciting a book may be).
For cons, I guess I would have liked to read more about the daily life, current culture and way of things in Korea. Maybe some karaoke, ayego (Korean way of acting cute), flower boys, more social issues (the huge pressure to look good and perform perfectly in school, at work, at everything) I don’t know… something!
JaeHwa – I really appreciated her as the heroine, she was all-around likable. She was cute in her own way, but as tough as needed when things got rough. She wasn’t the type to sit around and be saved either, she took matters into her own hands. It was still, however, at times hard to believe that she was only 15 years old and she came across too mature, focused and courageous at times for someone of her age.
Marc seemed a capable and nice guy so I’m hoping for further development in his relationship with JaeHwa. Her dad was a huge stubborn ox, but lovable in his pigheadedness. Michelle I need to know more about to fully warm up to her, so I hope she will surprise me.
This was a very promising start to a very promising series. Although, nothing groundbreaking, I enjoyed the setting, background mythology and storyline a great deal. I’m definitely going to check out the next books.