Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee
Book One of the Gates of Thread and Stone series
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
I think I liked this book. It's going to seem like I really didn't, because I have a lot to say in the next section, but it's not entirely the case! My overall view of this book is positive. But this one needed some work, in my opinion. I was seriously not impressed, which is really sad, because I love the author and I was extremely excited to read this book.
Kai can (sort of) manipulate time, but her not-blood-related brother Reev doesn't want her using her ability. When Reev disappears, Kai and her friend Avan go searching for him. They're told that the Black Rider is taking citizens, but nothing is as it seems, when Kai and Avan go looking for answers themselves.
You'll see in the next section that I wasn't Kai's biggest fan. Nor did I loveee the plot of this one. The world-building was on point though. I was intrigued from the start with the ins and outs of Ninurta. The very beginning of the book is spent really fleshing out the setting, and I liked this! Once we get away from Ninurta, well, then the world-building kind of dissipates. Sad, I know.
I REALLY liked Avan. He seemed a little flat at first, and at times throughout the story, but he is a true friend, protective guy, well-meaning person. I hate how much Kai uses him, thinks the worst of him, gets irritated with him. He doesn't deserve it. I like him so much!
That being said, I'm all about Kai and Avan (despite the fact that I may or may not dislike Kai). There is no love triangle in this novel (thank goodness, because it really seemed like there would be a love square or something). I'm not going to say I'm happy with the romance (gosh, does Lee trifle with the romance. I HATE the direction she took it, from the start), but I do hope for good things for Kai and Avan. Even though Kai does not deserve Avan.
I'm so glad this book has a sequel, otherwise this one would get maybe one or one point five stars. I'll be reading the sequel, once it's available - I have hopes that this series will be redeemed in general, with a subsequent novel. I guess we'll have to see though.
What I Did Not Like:
There were a few things that stuck out to me as I was reading. I'm not a huge fan of Kai, to be honest. I absolutely abhor the ending, and the messy romance. Actually, to be honest, this book in general is kind of a mess, but that goes without saying.
So... I don't like Kai. Usually when I dislike the heroine, I dislike the book. Kai was kind of on and off for me - some moments I didn't mind her, other moments I couldn't stand her. I found her to be extremely selfish throughout the book, not just in the beginning. I didn't see much character development in her. She's just as selfish and impulsive and somewhat stupid as she was in the beginning of the book as in the end. She's also extremely naive, and thinks she can take care of herself. Ha! Two weeks of physically training, and suddenly you can take on the world? Yeah, right.
Also, she has the ability to MANIPULATE FREAKING TIME. In the very end, it would have been really helpful if she could have stopped time and escaped with Avan. Or something. Apparently she can't go back in time, she can only slightly slow it down or slightly speed it up. But her ability would have been really helpful throughout the story. She barely ever used it, even though it's her right, her gift. How frustrating, as a reader, to watch the heroine NOT embrace her power, from start to finish.
The ending is awful, in my very honest opinion. Lee made a mess of the ending. She drops "bombshell" after "bombshell", cooks up some nice blackmail, takes away several important aspects to the book, and the conveniently drops some back in... no. Just, no. I was not amused by this. I HATE it when authors think they can just take something out of a story, and then plop it back in five seconds later in a different way, shape, form. I'm not a fan of this. Especially in this instance. You'll know what I mean if/when you read the book.
The romance is messy as well. There is no love triangle, but it seems like Kai doesn't want to care about Avan, and then when she finally does, she works it into her head that he never actually cared about her like that because of a sense of duty. UGH. UGH UGH UGH. STOP WITH THIS TROPE, AUTHORS.
I mentioned that the story in general was messy... I'm sticking by that. Kai wants to get her brother back, She goes on a wild-goose chase, meets some random god-like immortal, goes back to be thrown into a tournament - the plot was twisty and winding and random, honestly. Everything seemed RANDOM. The Infinite beings seemed random, the author's explanation not good enough. The lore to this story didn't suffice, for me.
And the title makes no sense. The "threads" part, I get. But the gates, the stone? Not so much. What gates are we talking about? The only gates I know that were mentioned are the ones in and out of the city/province, and the gates of death. And I don't think we're talking about either of those. And stone? Completely unsure of that one. And the tagline goes right along that theme of randomness - not once does it really appear in the story. In fact, I really didn't FEEL the whole be-silent-be-still-be-safe thing. Lee's world of Ninurta really didn't feel that dangerous. Honestly. It adds to the randomness of the novel, I suppose. Random random random!
Would I Recommend It:
I definitely think this one is still worth the read. The series has potential, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book. However, I was a little disappointed by the quality of the story - this book was a highly anticipated one of mine, and the way the other authors made it sound... well, I was expecting something different. Better, perhaps. Next book, hopefully!
2.5 stars -> rounded up to 3 stars. An okay debut, an okay novel, but disappointing (I had expectations for this one, but there were obviously other reasons for my disappointment). I'm hoping the next book makes more sense.
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