Friday, February 24, 2017

#Friday Review - Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James #YALit #Science Fiction

Series: Dark Gifts #1
Format: E-Galley, 368 pages
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Source: NetGalley/Publisher
Genre: YA, Dystopian

The 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?

"Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved." 

Gilded Cage is the first installment in author Victoria "Vic" James' Dark Gifts trilogy. Welcome to the world of the Equals. Equals are those who were born with Skills that makes them superior to normal humans. Skills are an ability, origin, unknown, manifesting in a very small fraction of the population & passed down thru bloodlines. Some skills are universal like restoration, healing, alteration, persuasion, perception, and infliction. Whatever the Skill a person has, they dominate life in England and elsewhere. They even have their own parliament called the House of Light.

Then there is everyone else. Those who are required to serve (10) years of their lives as a slave in a location mostly chosen by the Labor Allocation Bureau. You can’t be a full citizen until your slave-days are completed. You can’t travel, or find a decent job, or even own your own home until your days are over. Slaves live in places like Millmoor. It is there where readers learn the real differences between those who have, and those who have not. 

Gilded Cage revolves around several key players; Luke Hadley, his sister Abigail, Silyen Jarden, Bouda Matravers & Gavar Jardine. Outside of England, each country has its own separate rules when it comes too Skilled & Unskilled. I can say that according to this world, the United States is divided into two separate countries as it was during the Civil War. The Union States of America, which considers Skilled to be enemies of the State and bars them from entering, and Confederate States where Skilled live as they do in England. France is place where people rose up against the skilled and slaughtered them.

It is here where 16-year old Luke Hadley finds his own voice, his own friends, and ends up being one my favorite character. Luke meets a young girl named Renie, Doc Jackson, Hilda, Tilda, Asif, Oswald, and Jessica who do things that agitate those in charge of Millmoor.  where one of our key players is sent after his own family is sent to slave for an aristocrat family named Jardine.

I have focused most of my time with Luke & Silyen because they are the most interesting. Silyen, for instance, is absolutely the most curious, and fascinating character in the entire book. He is powerful, scary, and may hold the answer to a whole lot of twists, and political shenanigans that take place over the course of this story. Silyen is not one to be messed with either. The fact his own brother is afraid he’s up to something that may lead to unknown changes, should say a lot. 

After he is labeled as a surplus, 16-year old Luke Hadley is taken away from his family and brought to Millmoor. As an unqualified male, he is forced to work in hot, dangerous places where the likelihood of your survival is bleak. It is here where he finds his own voice, his own friends, and ends up being one my favorite character. Luke meets a young girl named Renie, Doc Jackson, Hilda, Tilda, Asif, Oswald, and Jessica who do things like grant wishes that agitate those in charge of Millmoor. Millmoor fundamentally changes Luke. As I said, Luke is my favorite because he gets the rawest of the deals from start to finish. 

I have a whole lot of uneasy feelings for Abigail Hadley, the oldest daughter and the one with the supposed bright future who puts her medical school education on hold so that she and her family can serve their days together. It is Abigail who encourages her whole family to apply to serve under at Kyneston, the home of the Jardine’s. Yet, it is not really up to her where anyone ends up, which leads to Luke going to Millmoor. Abigail becomes enamored with Jenner Jardine who has no Skills of his own. A rarity in Equal families. Abigail's choices definitely deserve scrutiny whether she meant well, or not. Her final choice has solidified my desire to see what happens next to her, Luke, and Silyen. 

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