I *finally* finished Gilded Cage which was actually supposed to be a buddy-read with Victoria during the spring break! (haha yeah which was like 3 months back. Look at me keeping up with my plans)
I don’t even know how Victoria @ Be Careful of Books kept up with me, but seriously she’s the sweetest to do a buddy-read with. It was a lot of fun because we decided to send each other videos whenever something sad or shocking happened. So it was really cool watching each other’s initial reactions! I’m glad to say, that we agreed on a lot of things (YAYY!)
Instant cover buy.
Interesting as hell synopsis.
In modern-day Britain, magic users control everything: wealth, politics, power—and you. If you’re not one of the ultimate one-percenters—the magical elite—you owe them ten years of service. Do those years when you’re old, and you’ll never get through them. Do them young, and you’ll never get over them.
This is the darkly decadent world of Gilded Cage. In its glittering milieu move the all-powerful Jardines and the everyday Hadleys. The families have only one thing in common: Each has three children. But their destinies entwine when one family enters the service of the other.
Now who wouldn’t want to read something like this, yeah? The first two chapters were grrrrrreat. Good plot-line. I wanted to read more and know more about the characters’ plight. What I found, however, was the introduction of more and more characters as chapters progressed, pointless POV’s which were literally contributing no substance to the story; whatsoever, and a mesh of 10000 conflicts all of which were left unresolved or just abruptly and stupidly solved. 60% of the book was senseless pov’s, i repeat. A LOT OF repetition, and I kid you not, around 50 characters of whom 3 were the only important ones.
Even the main characters all lacked personality except maybe, Silyen, one of the Jardine brother. He was a cruel, heartless Equal but atleast it was clear what he wanted, what his goals were and who he liked or hated. The other people were merely pawns in the story just carrying the plot line forward with no mind or thinking ability of their own. I couldn’t connect to them at alllllll.
The only person I felt a tiny bit of pain for, was Luke, one of the kids in the Hadleys family who was separated from the rest of the family. He was THE ONLY ONE who actually suffered, and see the difference in lives between the Equals and the Normals. His story had action. Unfortunately, we don’t read much of him either.
What we read about, is the annoying slave-girl, Abigail. God!! I wanted to shoot her in the head!!!!
This girl’s family was torn apart, bound to the Equals to serve them, her brother in war-torn conditions in a land far away, and you know what troubles her the most??????
Ugh, Would it be a spoiler if I say so? (Hint: a very very very very forced kick-in-your-crotch-spit-on-your-neck kinda stupid romance)
This girl was crazy.
Idk what thought process Vic James was going through, but there were major contradictions in all of characters’ personality.
The ending was very abrupt. Suddenly wrapped up. And it was very very evident that it ended the way it did, only because the writer wanted to write a sequel. The reason it gets 2 stars, instead of 1 is, bec the start was good, and the last chapter also had some read-able substance. Everything in the middle? *eye-roll*
My Rating: ★★★
My Thoughts: The world building of this book was really interesting. I loved the mix of fantasy and alternative history. The Equals are essentially a super hero class of people, they have ‘skill’ which are essentially magical powers and therefore are the ruling class. The ordinary people owe the Elites ten years of slavery known as the ‘slave days’ and everyone can chose to serve out their slave days whenever they want, as long as they do them. They say in the book that if you do your slave days too old, you won’t survive them, and if you do them too young you won’t recover from them. They’re pretty damn brutal. The novel starts with the Hadley family parents telling their children that they have signed them all up for their slave days, the parents thought it would be best to do the days all together as a family (I’ll get into that a bit more soon), but when they arrive their son is taken from them to work in Millmoor (one of the most notorious slave camps in the country).
What a cool premise!
The problem I have with it is that despite the fact that the world building was really cool, this is a character driven story and… the characters were a mess.
To start with, there were a lot of them. It became tricky to keep track.
Secondly, they all kind of made stupid choices, all the time. Lets start with the Hadley parents. They signed their kids up for slavery without consulting them!? They talked to their oldest daughter about it, but not the other two kids. It seems like a really terrible thing to spring on them. They’re also really emotionally flat. When their son is taken away they’re just like ‘oh I hope he’s okay and I guess we’ll see him in ten years then’. THIS IS YOUR CHILD. Have an emotion people! And when anything traumatic happens its almost like they don’t notice. Its weird.
Abi is the oldest daughter. She is meant to be the smart one. And holy shit is she an idiot. Before leaving for the slave days she is obsessed with reading romance novels featuring normal people who fall in love with and have an affair with Equals during their slave days. She says ‘oh I would never be stupid enough to expect that’ and then any time an Equal so much as breathes in her direction she’s thinking ‘is this it?’ ‘is he into me?’ ‘oh are we going to fall in love?’. Even when she should be afraid of them she runs TOWARDS Equal men to protect her, totally forgetting that they have her enslaved. It makes no sense! Even when she is repeatedly slapped in the face with the fact that legally, slaves aren’t considered fully human, she insists on believing she is the exception. She does have a bit of a romantic story arc with one of the Equals but I kind of hope it comes to bite her in the ass later in the series.
Luke was my favourite character, he seems to be the most realistic in this family. He sees the slave days as…. slavery and thinks that’s wrong. He’s in Millmoor for most of the book, working in a terrible slave camp where he is pretty brutalised. He is the hero of this story from my view, and though we are meant to be sympathetic to the entire Hadley family, I really only found myself invested in Luke.
The youngest child, Daisy, is only ten. The minimum age requirement for slave days. She ends up a babysitter to an Equal baby and… its real gross. She ends up being really defensive of the Equals and thinks they’re all really good people or misunderstood or something. But I guess she is a little kid. She was the least developed Hadley.
Around their story is the story of a massive political conflict around slave days and Equals and all of it.
I have such mixed feeling about this book.
The whole arc of Equals, Skill, and the politics that is happening in the background is fascinating. Its just these characters…
So there’s that, guys! Have you guys read this story?? What did you think of it?