Sunday, October 24, 2021

Namina Forna: The Gilded Ones

Namina Forna debut novel shows the ends people will go to to ensure that they are in power:
Deka has always been different from the other girls and women in her village. Her mother was an outsider and Deka has always felt like one as well, as there are very few people who would be her friend because her skin was darker than theirs. Deka knew that this would all change after the ceremony when she turns 16, she knows that her blood will run red. But when there ceremony comes, the village is attacked by the monsters from the South, and while they are there Deka learns her fate....Her blood runs Gold. She is sentenced to a fate that is worse then death. But one day a strange woman comes to collect her, sent on behalf of the emperor and she is given a choice stay in the village and endure her fate every day, or come with this woman and become something more. All the gold blood girls are being gathered, to learn to fight, to give their lives to protect those whose blood runs red. Deka decides to leave her home, to try to be something more, to protect others and she will discover that there are many mysteries not only within the city but within Deka herself.

Honestly, I was shocked when I found out that it was Forna's debut novel. It is not often that you get a debut novel that is not only well written but the author had the ability to create, describe and portray a different world as well as memorable and interesting main character. Also, while this book may be portrayed as a YA novel, I would say it is on the darker side of YA with the murders, death and the matter in which the occur is not for the faint of heart. The Gilded Ones are essential told that their place in life is to die, so you can imagine how much it occurs within the book. Deka, herself, dies many times especially at the beginning in some horrific and I mean horrific ways, that even though they are not explained in detail you cannot but help but cringe. So this one is not for the faint of heart and probably not for a younger YA audience either. Plus, to top it all off, there is some political intrigue thrown in there that I enjoyed as well. See al this in a debut novel, how could you not pick this book up.

Deka is an admirable character, first she just wants to do what is right by her father and will do anything to achieve that, even if it means dying 1000 deaths for him. Then she is willing to do anything for her sisters and is also willing to die 1000 deaths for them as well. She puts everyone above herself and you cannot help but love her as a character. The supporting cast is also great, the main sisters whom she fights with, they all bring something different to their team and support each other in different ways. I can honestly say I do not remember much about Deka's love interest in this book (see I cannot even remember his name right now), he just seemed so secondary to Deka and i wasnt really a fan of the first kind of hate to insta-love troupe. I do understand why Forna put it in the book, it just wasn't for me. That it just may have skimmed over those parts a bit. I will say I am thankful that Forna did not have the dreaded love triangle that is so often in YA novels

While the plot was interesting as a whole, I did find a few things predictable and was able to figure out the major plots twist fairly early on in the book, so i was waiting for the Deka and the other girls to figure out what was really going on. I wish that this main twist/aspect was a bit better hidden, but over all it did not take away my enjoyment of the book.

This is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it for people who love fantasy books, great world building and strong female lead. Or if you just need a major boost to your feeling of Girl Power right now, then pick this book up. I know I will be grabbing the next book in the series when it comes out next year.

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