Hello Reader & Writers,
I was lucky to win an ARC of Gilded Cage by Vic James from VDBookVogi. Feel free to check out their site here. This YA book is due for release on February 14th, 2017. I will keep this review mostly spoiler free, so you don’t need to close the tab.
The plot centers around two kinds of people in the world: Equals and commoners. The Equals are humans who possess magical gifts called Skill. The families that have Skill are aristocrats, who also have money, power, and seats of government. The political and social strata of the world are set up like an alternative Victorian England.
In this society, the Equals are free, but commoners have to do slave years, where they work for ten years and only then are they given full benefits of society. Commoners are deemed citizens before this time, but completing slave years opens up further doors for them. My main problem with this set up was it didn’t make sense for Equals to have slaves or this set up in society when they have powers that can complete all these tasks not only quickly, but without having to exert much effort on their own behalf. In a way, it has made them lazy, some choosing to not use their Skill often at all. The Equals claim it is so they can govern, but it’s clear they can do both with how powerful the majority of them are. If anything, it makes more sense that they want to keep this divide because they feel they are better than commoners.
My other issue with the book was a lot of history was thrown into the early chapters, making it a bit difficult to muddle through and pin down when it happened. I did complete the book, and wound up enjoying it, but that was because a lot of the history gets teased out more efficiently in the later chapters.
I was hesitant at first when I saw this book had multiple POVs. These can either work really well or wind up giving away too much or complicating the book. Vic James did a great job of balancing what she was giving away and what you as the reader were going to find out. You are able to get a glance into not only the life of commoners, but the aristocrats as well, each holding notable and different personalities. It is through these POVs that the history of the world comes together, each character having their bits of the puzzle to share.
The view points that hold most of the story are Luke’s and Abi’s, a commoner brother and sister who undergo two very separate experiences. I loved Luke for he grappled with the complications of morality versus following his family. He finds it in himself to question how things are. Abi, on the other hand, tries to use the system in order to benefit her and her family. She is the leader who tries to keep things in order, but she realizes how the picture is not always black and white. The other POVs shift between members, or those involved with, the noble Jardine family. I found myself intrigued in all of these tales too for the Jardine siblings clash with their own agendas and you have a family navigating a politically charged climate. They’re not all good people, but it is worth diving into their heads and experiences.
Once I got past the early chapters, I was hooked into the book. I wanted to learn more about the politics, what secrets the aristocratic society had, how Abi and Luke were going to make it in a world that was geared against them. By the end, I was freaking out because Vic James throws some dark stuff in there that made my jaw drop. The book makes up for the majority of its complications in the beginning through its characters and in depth glances at this unfair world. It is heavily political and deals without a lot of questions involving human worth, class divide, and corruption.
Overall, this gets 4/5 stars from me and I’m looking forward to the next book in the trilogy.