Series: Gates of Thread and Stone #1
Published by Skyscape on August 5th 2014
Genres: dystopia, young adult
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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.
It was the title that did it in for me for this novel. When I saw the name, I fell in love. When I noticed the cover, I was sold.
I wasn’t expecting any surprises or any new ground covered by Gates of Thread and Stone. I thought it was the run-of-the-mill sci-fi book with a nice cover. There is nothing wrong with this, since I do not begrudge this category. I liked to be entertained, and there is nothing wrong with that.
So I was slightly blindsided by this peach.
What I Liked
Kai, the female protagonist, was a tough, honest character. She didn’t fall into the GRLPWR pit trap and she wasn’t out to burn the world down to make up for the fact that she was born with boobs. She was just getting by and a series of unfortunate events spurred her adventure.
The main conflict was over family – adopted family, on top of that. That’s right! Family DOES matter to young readers! Everything doesn’t center around the legendary goal of coupling! Things arise from something OTHER THAN ROMANTIC LOVE. And THAT IS OKAY!
Something different. I had a hard time putting my finger on describing the atmosphere of Gates of Thread and Stone. It was a wild mash-up of everything popular right now in TV programming without looking like a knock off. The premise and the world building was produced by a story inspired by pop culture television, but not flat-out P2P writing.
NO INSTA-LOVE. We witness a romance blooming from friendship in the story. I approve. Also, there was not pages on top of pages of monologue about the appearance of the love interest. No marble statues and golden gods here.
Walking a fine line. I labeled this story as a dystopian novel previously, but I could also see this pitched as a purely sci-fi tome. The reader takes a bit of ownership and can decide where to place the novel.
Bisexual character. A MALE character on top of that!
Timey-whimey. Like time travel and the notion that time is a non-linear event? Do you like for your mind to get a bit muddled and stretched out? I do.
No animal rage. Very low count for animal mistreatment events.
I did enjoy this novel quite a bit, and I enjoyed it in a way I never considered, since I judged it from the get-go. However, there were some issues that popped up:
Kai seemed held back at times. She was a wonderful, strong, and dedicated individual, but she seemed slightly walled off from her potential in the story. This is a series, and a longer, overall story arc can set limits on some characters. I chalk this one up to series-itis.
The story can lose the reader at times. There were parts that completely baffled me, and I felt a little left out, especially during the world building. I find that I am still confused by some of the terminology, such as the description of the different people and there purpose and position in society.
The ending was AWESOME…until the awesome-ness was undone by a overused trope. I’m done and over it.
This story caters to the modern fandom-driven masses, which helps reach out to a fan base that would like to see some of their hobbies cross over into literature. The story seemed very Dr. Who-ish to me. The book kicks the romance formula to the sidelines and, instead, turns the focus on a much more interesting conflict of loyalty and family.