Friday, February 17, 2017

ARC Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

Title: Gilded Cage
Series: Dark Gifts #1
Written by: Vic James
Published: February 14, 2017 by Del Ray Books
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved. 

 Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world. 

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge. 

Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price? 

A boy dreams of revolution. 

Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution. 

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts. 

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I really wanted to like this book. It sounds totally up my alley, a dystopian fantasy with political intrigue and magic. But unfortunately it did not work for me. There were some okay elements, and parts of the book that I did enjoy, but for the most part it just felt basic and underwhelming. It could have been a great read and it didn't for me.

The one thing that I did like about this book was the world. It wasn't a particularly creative world but it was solid and interesting. For one thing you had the setting or actual world, which I did enjoy. It's kind of an alternate history, dystopia, and fantasy all rolled into one. You have an England that still has slavery and the aristocrats and ones in power use magic to keep it that way. I'm a sucker for these sorts of stories because I love the themes about opression and power that they deal with. Gilded Cage had some good elements of that but it didn't quite make good on my expectations. It explored this theme a little bit but it didn't really come into the plot until the very end. I wish it had explored it a little more a little earlier.

I also think that part of the problem a I had with this books is that it also didn't spend a lot of time focusing on the world building. I thought for a while that this is a book that was very heavy on the exposition. If you are a blog follower you know how I feel about exposition, not very favorable. I get that it's needed but less is more. But this is a book that had less and it still didn't work. Looking back on it I realize that maybe it didn't explain much. I liked the magical system, I found it super interesting. I love magic where people have what is essentially a super power and this was like that, so any time someone would use their magic I was all for it. But I wanted to know more and I wanted to learn more about it.

The one thing this book did have a lot of was characters and character perspectives. The characters were interesting enough and complex but there were seriously so many of them.  I knew going into this that there were going to be a lot of perspectives, I mean the synopsis mentions three perspectives right there. And three would have been okay, But no, this book had six or seven. I don't even know. Because honestly every voice sounded the same. I had such a hard time keeping track of who was who and who was speaking. It was overwhelming. When the book began it changed perspectives so many times with every chapter that it was hard to connect with anyone or even their story. I wish it had a bit of a narrower character perspective and focused more on other aspects.

And unfortunately the increased character perspectives and my inability to focus on one aspect of the story also impacted my enjoyment of the plot. I'm such a plot-driven reader and I need to be able to connect with the plot of a book. It doesn't have to be full of action but it does have to capture my interest. Unfortunately, the plot of this book didn't capture my interest because I wasn't exactly sure where it was going until the very end. Maybe it was just very slowly paced, because it definitely was. It took it's sweet time to get to the good stuff for me. In a lot of cases like that it means that the book drags and reads slow, but this book didn't. I breezed through it but it still didn't feel like it had much substance. It felt a little basic in terms of the plot and that felt like a detriment to me.

On the whole Gilded Cage had a lot of promise but it didn't quite take things to the next level for me. It had an interesting world and magical system but it didn't explore it as much as I would have like, it had complex characters but there were too many perspectives, and it had a plot that took a really long time to kick in. Despite being excited to read it, it wasn't my kind of read.

I give Gilded Cage by Vic James 7 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow/Bypass. I think if you are a more character-driven reader you may like this book a little bit more. It's not an exciting or thrilling read for plot-driven readers but it does have an interesting world and complex characters.

Have you read Gilded Cage? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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