Gilded (Gilded #1)

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Gilded (Gilded #1)
Age Range
Release Date
March 01, 2014
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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.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Myths & More
Overall rating
Writing Style
Even though I'm Asian, it doesn't mean I'm Korean. (And I'm not Korean.) I have no idea if the legends and myths and facts and language stated in GILDED are accurate. (I could do a quick Google search. From the looks of some sites, there is a Korean demigod named Haemosu. So yay, for cultural diversity!)

Jae Hwa Lee, the main character, is in incredible danger. After moving to South Korea from the United States, Jae Hwa is threatened by a demi-god. He wants to steal her soul and make sure she will never leave him (getting creepy vibes?). Unfortunately, he hasn't been doing this to just Jae Hwa but also to her female ancestors before her. (Now that is gross and vile.) Jae Hwa is a strong, fiery, aggressive, amazing character (who I am in love with, so buzz off, Haemosu). Despite being tested and tempted over and over again, she never breaks down.

The world building is amazing. Not only does Christina Farley takes the readers to South Korea, she also brings us to a spirit world of... well, deceased souls, gods, and demigods.

The plot starts off quickly. A mysterious man (Haemosu) appearing from seemingly nowhere. A possible love interest. A family secret. As Jae Hwa dodges the attempts on her soul and unfolds her family's secrets (which is annoyingly kept in secret from her), the closer her enemy gets. Haemosu is an excellent and cunning villain, who hits Jae Hwa in the least expected moments. But he is also a delusional creep.

The conflict between Haemosu and Jae Hwa is of a cat and mouse game. Haemosu is too powerful in the spirit world, but Jae Hwa always manages to slip away. One little mistake, and Jae Hwa is bound to him forever. Intriguing and suspenseful, isn't it?

The ending brings so much potential for a sequel. I would love to see Jae Hwa continue hunting for... Oh, sorry. I forget myself. Spoilers. I can't reveal spoilers.

In conclusion, GILDED is an amazing start to a fascinating series. With a strong character, a soft and slow romance, and a dangerous, supernatural enemy, this book is definitely one of my favorites for this year. Points for diversity.

Rating: Four out of Five

Source: NetGalley
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(Updated: November 19, 2014)
Overall rating
Writing Style
I'm a huge fan of diversity in YA novels. For this reason I'm always on the look out for fantasy worlds that are based on other cultures besides the usual Anglo ones. Seriously, there are other cultures out there! We need to see them!

GILDED has Jae Hwa Lee, a sixteen-year-old, Korean American who has to move to Seoul because of her father's job. Let's just say she's not too excited about leaving LA and her new school in Seoul is almost too much.

Then she finds out that some of the Korean tales her mother used to tell her in fact might be real and her own family plays a part in it. The Korean demigod, Haemosu, is very interested in her family and now her. Though Jae has a black belt and is very talented in archery, this might not be enough to save her.

I really liked this story! I love reading about other cultures and worlds and GILDED fit the bill!

Jae is a strong protagonist. She has a black belt and aces archery. But she doesn't like moving to Korea and misses her friends back in LA.

The strength of this story has to be the rich Korean mythology that is woven throughout. Jae is pulled into the spiritual world and has to fight against a demigod. The author words bring life to these ancient tales which collide with our own world. Her grandfather believes in the reality of the mythical world though her father brushes them off as a sign of him being senile. At first Jae agrees with her father but later finds out that her grandfather is right. He becomes her biggest ally.

Marc, is the cute guy at her new school. She's drawn to him but doesn't know why. It would have been easy to have him be the one to break the vicious cycle of the demigod but no, it's Jae, who is the strong one. I really liked that. Sure, he doesn't give up and does his part to help but in the end it's Jae who has to save the day.

There is only one little concern I had about this very engaging fantasy. I would have liked some Korean guys as minor characters. Or maybe even in the next book, one that could be a love interest or a close friend.

There's a glossary in the back to help with the Korean words, terms, and other cultural references.

Rich fantasy world based on Korean mythology with one kickass heroine readers will cheer for!
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