Title: Gilded Cage by Vic James
Published: February 14th 2017 by Del Rey Books
Page Count: 368
Where’d I Get It: Netgalley (eARC)
Rating: 3 stars
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?
The concepts of this book are interesting, don’t get me wrong. Society is run by those that are gifted, in this case with magical (possibly just telepathic and Scarlet Witch-y) powers. The muggles in this world go about their lives, but are required (for reasons) to spend ten years of their lives doing slavedays, in which their citizenship is taken away and they’re forced to do menial labor and keep awful schedules and sleep poorly. There’s two types of assignments for slavedays, those at a manor house, and those within the industrial cities. The first, assumably being more posh than the latter.
The book itself was kind of mess. There were enough points of view to rival George RR Martin, and not nearly the amount of content. Introducing new character’s points of view at the halfway point in this was painful, as I already didn’t quite have my bearings. I’ll mostly focus on the two points of view that mattered, Abi and her brother Luke.
Abi and Luke’s family has decided that they’re going to do their slavedays together, disrupting the children’s lives, but allowing for many more opportunities for them when they finally are released. I guess there is a stigma attached to job listings and home ownership that can only be set right if someone has done their slavedays. Abi, being a teenage girl of many talents, somehow got the family stationed at one of the elite manor households, in fact, the elite of the elite, the Jardine family. Except things already aren’t going as planned when the family is separated and Luke is sent to one of the work camps.
From there Luke’s point of view follows a band of freedom fighters, and he himself joins their ranks. Abi’s is the household of the Jardines, with more political nonsense and some wedding planning, and not nearly the amount of action that Luke’s had. Luke is eventually brought to the estate, and from there the book sort of lagged a bit before picking up again.
It’s twisty and turny, sometimes in the same way as drama laced prime time shows, where something will happen, but it doesn’t have overarching consequences. In other ways, everything did have a consequence, much like Breaking Bad. Either way, it felt very episodic and potato chip-y to me. When I read the back blurb that claimed it was a slightly modified, but highly sought after Wattpad work, the structure of it made a lot more sense. I’m all for drama and interesting plot points, but when the characterization and understandability suffer, I lose interest.
Overall, it was an interesting premise. It just didn’t do it for me. I guess I expected a bit more from it and didn’t get it. There were a lot of plot points that, I felt, were left unresolved, and I guess that’s do to the triolgical nature of the series. There was also some gross sex euphanisms that, considering the point of view they were said under, some how made it more gross. All and all, the second book would have to really pick it up for me to remain interested in this series.