Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting in to a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god, Haemosu, has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she's next.
But that’s not Jae’s only problem. There's also Marc. Irresistible and charming, Marc threatens to break the barriers around Jae's heart. As the two grow closer, Jae must decide if she can trust him. But Marc has a secret of his own—one that could help Jae overturn the curse on her family for good. It turns out that Jae's been wrong about a lot of things: Her grandfather is her greatest ally, even the tough girl can fall in love, and Korea might just be the home she's always been looking for.
©2014 Christina Farley (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
a dedicated dilettante
One of the first things that struck me about Gilded, besides its ridiculously cool cover designed by Abby Kuperstock, was how fresh the story seemed. If you examine any individual element, it's been done before: protagonist girl with abilities of which she is unaware and a willingness to go where angels dare not tread, the cool and slightly shy boyfriend who the object of the gorgeous girl's desire, the over-worked and slightly overbearing widowed father who hides his true care and concern under a gruff exterior and the insanely powerful, other-worldly bad guy. Then again, I and the best chefs in Paris can use the same ingredients to prepare a meal but you'll want to eat the end result of their cooking over mine. While there is nothing really new under the sun, Christian Farley melds the characters, worlds, writing style and narrative elements to make something really fresh and new. The writing is clear, the dialog crisp and the storyline twisty enough to be fun and keep you guessing while not so winding that you can't remember your way.
As I often do, I went between the Kindle and Audible versions (using Whispersync for Voice to keep a smooth transition). Greta Jung did a beautiful job narrating, fully allowing you to immerse in Jae's world. Her pacing was spot on; I particularly liked her smooth-talking Haemosu.
The story is engaging and the details of South Korea paint a beautiful image. I have read the book, listened to the audiobook, and already began the second story in the series. Farley's writing and Jung's voice create a story that I would listen to again to follow Jae Hwa through her trials.
I would compare it to Hunger Games. Jae Hwa is a teenage girl put in an impossible situation that forces her to dig deep within herself. The protagonist also has to learn to accept help from family and friends despite fearing for their safety.
I appreciate her slight variations in character voices. She also seems to be familiar with the story as though she is Jae Hwa.
I was introduced to Farley through the Kindle First program. I enjoyed the book so much I decided to sign up for Audible.
"Princess Diaries meets Urban Fantasy"
I have read a LOT of urban fantasy & I have yet to read one that is quite so odd & yet really, really good.
The main character starts out super angst-y teenager & even as she is being dragged into a world of Korean mythology (well done & super interesting) she seems to spend at least half her time moping that she isn't normal anymore & being all dramatic...
Weirdly still a great book & a likeable main character although the writing in the beginning is kind of....choppy? It doesn't flow...
I keep thinking of reasons why I shouldn't like it but honestly I really enjoyed it. Not the best book ever but still very much worth reading, if only for the Korean mythology.
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