Be forewarned, this story definitely doesn't stop here. If you hate waiting for the next book then don't read this until it's out as you will likely be dying to read book 2, as I am now.
James does a solid job of tackling the difficult, and over saturated, Young Adult Fantasy genre. As someone who adores fantasy and has read a lot of it; I can honestly say that the magic and world set-up have unique aspects I enjoyed.
What to expect: you will encounter magic, slavery, some cute romance, torture, sadism and a lot of "I'm better than you because blah, blah" attitude. There are lots of great prejudice and tolerance lessons or points made in Gilded Cage. James does a great job of showing how unfair the world is by making us appreciate characters from all sides. There is a lot more to many of these characters and clearly interesting future story to come for many of them, especially the younger ones.
"Trust lent you someone else's eyes, someone else's strong arms or quick brain. Made you bigger than yourself."
The theme of trust is throughout the story and I love the way it is used to show characters connections; but also how tenuous a bond between people can be. I feel one of the many things we don't talk about enough these days is trust. Who do you trust and when? There are some great scenarios in Gilded Cage that are worth anyone considering, not just teens.
Although I wish it wasn't an alternate version of Earth with out country names. I definitely would have preferred an original map and world over recycling and kinda bastardizing our current country map. And while there was a moment about 40% in where I was bored with the droning politics chapters that were back to back; it was well worth the push to keep going.
However, these are relatively small critiques overall in comparison to the gun I had reading Gilded Cage. I'm really hoping we get book 2 quickly (is tomorrow too soon?).
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave poor reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad.