A review copy of this book was received in exchange for an honest review.
Published: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.
Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.
A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.
Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?
A boy dreams of revolution.
Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.
And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.
He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?
There are a ton of awesome sounding books coming out in February, but Gilded Cage is definitely going to rise to the top. It was mind-blowingly amazing and here’s why. I went in expecting something set in a newly industrialized era, but what I got was modern day with the added twist of a 10-year period of enslavement for each and every non-gifted member of society. This book managed to defy every expectation I had when I began reading.
The most important feature in Gilded Cage is the inescapable decade of slavery that every person must complete. People give up their homes, jobs, and human rights, becoming chattel to the state. This thought was viscerally appalling to me, making an even stronger impact because the story is set in a modern time period that could be a distorted mirror to our own. The slave days, coupled with a society ruled by families with preternatural gifts makes for a gripping, perturbing story that is nearly impossible to put down. The skilled Equal families and their government are similar to the aristocratic society of historical England, minus royalty and with all of the corruption and power games.
The most powerful family, the Jardines, are central to the story, but we wouldn’t have this story if it weren’t for the Hadley family. The Hadley’s are doing their slavedays together as a family and have gotten lucky enough to serve at the Jardine estate. A far cry better than the toxic slums that most people end up in, right? Well, Luke Hadley gets to experience those slums first hand because the powers above have decided that a boy his age wouldn’t be of any use on the estate. As he learns the ways of revolution, his family learns that serving the Equals is still quite dangerous.
However much I liked the Hadleys for their resourcefulness, perserverance, and all around goodness, I liked the Equals because they’re monsters. The Jardines have closets of secrets and my opinions of them were ever-changing. Gavar is a rage machine, all sharp edges and black leather… until he’s with his baby daughter, then he’s awestruck and impossibly happy. Silyen is powerful beyond belief, but no one really knows what he’s capable of. I’m still unsure if he’s playing devil’s advocate or if he’s playing a long game. Jenner is quite unlike either of his brothers and I think he has a scrap of decency, though I have reservations about him. The other Equals range from sadistic to power hungry to abolitionist and each page brought something new to love or loathe.
Vic James is going to bring the house down with this book. This book had more momentum and had a society twice as appalling as The Hunger Games. Dystopian at its finest? Absolutely. I LOVED it and I’m going to go ahead and say this is one of the best books I’ll read in 2017. The countdown to the next installment is on!