Despite the fact that Asia is the world’s largest continent and that many of these countries play an important part in both the past and the present, YA tends to ignore them. I don’t know why. It’s not like any of the myths and legends that this part of the world has are any less interesting than its western counterparts. And for that matter, these countries do not lack hot men either.
Unfortunately, YA authors and publishers haven’t really registered the potential gold mine that having a book that deals with Asian mythology/has Asian heros.
Okay, so there have been a few books published that take place in Asia or might have an Asian main character or hero, but does it happen often?
And for that matter it’s rarely executed properly. See my review of Ink.
So, I was excited (even though a bit reluctant) when I heard about Gilded. It was just fate that I was able to rent it for free on Prime. However, it just feel in the same trap that Ink did. Actually, I think Ink was better. Because at least, it embraced its setting and its people. Gilded, really could’ve just taken place in America.
Oh sure, there were a few glimpses of South Korea. And those parts of the book I found fascinating, but for the most part this book could’ve taken place in any large city in America.
I really hate to say this, but besides the fact that the book incorporates Korean mythology (pretty well in fact) there really isn’t really anything else remotely Korean about the book. Oh, wait the main character is Korean America. But does she have really any connection to her roots?
In fact, she might as well been described as being blonde and blue eyed like the rest of the characters in this book. To be honest, I understood why Farleey decided to have Jai attend an International School. It was fairly realistic for a character who lived in LA most of her life to go to an international school versus a traditional Korean school, but I really wish there was a way to inject more Korean customs and culture in this book. At least Ink did that.
One of the ways would’ve been to have some of her friends or love interest to be Korean instead of a transplant like Jai was. Oh, sure there’s her grandpa and her aunt but they really only have the roles as the wise crazy old mentor.
And did I mention that Jai is completely useless?
I’ll be honest, reading this book sort of reminded me of this horrible 1990’s kids movie, Three Ninjas. That’s sort of how I felt the Korean culture was used in this book-manipulated to sell a product. While I found the actual use of mythology decent enough, there’s was no heart to it. The characters are a prime example to it.
First there’s Jai. Not only does she have no connection to her culture, doesn’t try to form a connection to it, but she’s a bigger dumb ass than Bella Swan. In fact, I ‘m pretty sure if Bella was here she’d roll her eyes at Jai.
Some of the things that Jai does just make me want to throw my Kindle at her. Like, the fact she knows that the bad guy is not supposed to touch her but she results to fighting him physically. Um, he’s going to touch you if you keep trying to go all badass on him.
Note to readers, she’s not badass. She’s pathetic. Despite the black belt she has in tae kwan do.
And really, would you fight a god with basic martial arts moves? I know it worked for the Hulk, but Jai well she’s a dainty YA protagonist that’s not going to fly.
Jai really does nothing to defend herself and keeps putting herself in dumber situations. I really have no words for this girl. Except get a new brain.
Her love interest. Wow. Just wow. That’s not a good thing. He’s a bit (well, more than a bit) of a Gary Stu. There’s a page in the book where Mr. Wonderful just blurts out how he’s basically a member of archeology royalty (alas, he failed to mention he’s related to Indiana Jones-I mean, if you’re going for archeology royalty I would definitely put Indy on my list but whatever) and knows judo and six languages and he knows how to tie a bow-tie, kiss really well, and do the hockey pokey and turn himself around. Okay, ignore everything after the bow-tie part. But it really is too much.
Seriously, just throw him a pair of glasses and you might as well call this guy Superman.
Overall, this wasn’t an enjoyable experience for me. I was actually going to give this book a middle of the road rating but the last fourth of the book really pissed me off so I’m going to give it a D. The use of mythology saved it from being a total failure. But that wasn’t enough for me to like the book. I’m just really glad I didn’t pay for this one.