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?
There’s nothing I love more than a new YA book that’s first in the series. Something that seems to hold the promise of transforming into another roller-coaster of a journey that I can fall in love with and eagerly away the next book until I can relive the same excitement and awe I felt in the first one, but in a new and different way. While I love to complain about having to wait for the next book in series to be released — like how I’m currently eagerly awaiting Our Dark Duet — what I’ve been needing more of in my life is YA series that I just can’t put down and would sleep outside a bookshop for. I had hoped for Gilded Cage to fill that void in my life, but unfortunately, it didn’t seem to be up to the task.
Warning: This review is classified UO, for Unpopular Opinion.
First of all, I’ll start with the thing I did like about this novel, besides the intriguing premise – I loved how political this book was. As someone who’s concerned with human rights and is taking a Politics class in university (which, of course, makes me an expert), I enjoyed reading the discussions between parties with different points of view and the ways in which they justified their beliefs. However, it should be noted that this book can also be quite confronting for some readers at times, as the issues that are being debated are that of slavery, and the main characters are slaves in this dystopian universe. I also liked how the antagonists weren’t just ridiculously evil and how some things they did, no matter how despicable, were justified in their own eyes. These weren’t just one-dimensionally bad characters.
One of the things that led to my disappointment with this novel was that I found there were too many different points of view that we read from. I’m notorious for not liking books with more than two POVs, so this one was a particular struggle. Perhaps the multiple POVs would have been okay if the characters had distinct voices, but unfortunately, they all sounded the same to me. It was hard for me to form a connection to these characters because they all felt so similar and also because the characters who we were reading about alternated so frequently. It was almost like speed-dating. It also had insta-love, which didn’t help its case.
Finally, the last thing that formed the iceberg that metaphorically sinked this Titanic of a book was the slow pacing. Quite often it felt like nothing much happened for a reason, and at times, it felt like nothing was happening at all. A few times I found that I’d been reading the pages but not really taking anything in because of how zoned-out I was. Because of that, I didn’t feel like there was any time restriction for the characters, which would have enabled the narrative to speed up and be something I wouldn’t be able to take my eyes off. It also didn’t help that quite a number of the characters were dull, and I didn’t enjoy reading about them.
Ultimately, I was disappointed I didn’t fall in love with Gilded Cage. The premise was extremely intriguing and I enjoyed reading about the political side of this dystopian world, but I was let down by the dull characters, the slow pacing, and my distaste for multiple POVs. However, if you enjoy dystopians and don’t mind books that are a little slow in parts, I recommend giving this one a try!
Have you had the opportunity to read Gilded Cage yet? Did you enjoy it, or were there some aspects you didn’t like? Are you a fan of dystopian novels? Are you looking forward to reading the next book in the series? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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