Thursday, 9 April 2015

Gates of Thread and Stone

Author: Lori M Lee
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian, Young Adult
Series: #1 in the Gates of Thread and Stone series
Type: Paperback
Pages:  333
Publisher:  Skyscape New York
First Published: 2014
First Line: "Death lived in a glass tower at the center of the White Court."

Book Description from GoodReads:  In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.

In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.

My Review:  My first impression of this book was that it had a very Julie Kagawa 'The Immortal Rules' feel to it.  Strong, young female protagonist, bleak setting and power hungry bad guy.  But even though this book initially felt reminiscent of Kagawa's series (one of my favourites) it took on its own feel but unfortunately I didn't love the story line or characters as much as I was hoping.

Kai is a fighter.  She's lived a hard life and is strong willed but very naive (going off to save her brother with no plan in place) but extremely devoted to her brother Reev.  The other characters kind of blended into the story with no one, except maybe Avan, standing out for me.  Unfortunately, I didn't feel a deep connection to anyone. 

There was a strong romantic story line which felt like it had more play time than the fantasy element.  At times it was sweet with the two of them dancing around the fact that they like each other.  There was definite chemistry between them but after awhile I wanted something to happen.  Stop with the back and forth 'will they won't they' because it quickly felt wishy-washy.  Either be together or don't but enough with the misunderstandings.

The beginning of the book had a great pace.  I easily slipped into Kai's world and her concern for her missing brother.  But the momentum faltered shortly after Kai and Avan leave the city of Ninurta (an awkward name to be sure).  It's at this point where the world building fell flat.  I wanted to read about this big journey in a dangerous land.  I wanted tension, energy, cool creatures and descriptions of life outside the city walls where all kinds of evil and danger dwell.  But what I got was a pretty dull 'journey' (considering all the hoopla about going into the Outlands) and was over much too quickly.  It was frustrating that the hideous, ferocious gargoyles roaming the desolate Outlands around the city were barely in the story.  That felt like it was a missed opportunity for more action scenes.  

There were also some issues regarding Kai's training that just didn't gel with me.  First of all, you expect this teen girl to train for two weeks and then be able to take on people in a competitive ring who have been training for years and not use her powers?  Um, no. This story is centred around Kai's special ability and yet she hardly ever used it and it was practically unacknowledged throughout the book.  As a reader I found this as surprising as it was frustrating. Plus the mythological element, which was vague at best, wasn't executed well and with the ending feeling rushed it had a very messy feel to it.  Not a great way to end things.

In the end, I felt disappointed with the lack of energy and tension in this book.  The thing that kept me reading was wanting to find out more about the mystery surrounding Kai's past.   I think the author had an interesting premise and a beautiful book cover but unfortunately I found the world building, characters and the execution of the story line too weak to be enjoyable.

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

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