**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**
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 shecame 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.(source:goodreads)
Cover-Look at the shiny prettiness. Here's the story about what I think about this cover: it was one of the first things I looked at when I re-joined Twitter at the beginning of the summer. And it made my jaw drop. And while it followed the typical style of "girl MC on the front of the book" kind of deal, all of the attention is focused on the lettering and the "threads" in the middle of the picture. It glitters, glistens, shines, and anyone with a short attention span is in danger.
Love the cover.
Narrative-GATES OF THREAD AND STONE is told from the first person POV of Miss Kai. She's magical and a complete realist, and the narrative that comes through with her voice paints a wonderful picture of the world that she lives in. It's easy to follow, and overall makes it easy to just dive in and a take a nice swim among the words while you follow Kai on her journey in finding Reev and discovering the truth about who she is.
Ultimately (and obviously), yes, I liked the way this story was told, with a few setbacks in terms of when/how some history was laid out to me. It's totally forgivable, though, since these instances only occurred a few times out of the whole book, and they didn't last long before getting back to the action.
Plot-The plot follows Kai as she not only struggles to keep her ability to manipulate time a secret, but tries to find her "brother," Reev. There's a ride across a dessert, gargoyles, Famine, and a strange academy where students fight to be a part of a special guard. Ultimately, it was awesome. I mention Famine up there, and it's seriously not often when I come across a plot that includes the horsemen of the apocalypse; what's fantastic is the way Lee twists that concept to create a world where magic was destroyed by destroying itself and these immortals are either going crazy or trying to kill themselves (and, heck, those could be grouped together in certain situations.
I liked the search. Loved it, actually, and especially because it technically leaves Kai and the fantastic Avan (*swoons*) at a dead end. And it's kind of a strange thing (in my opinion) when the main character has to double-back on their journey in the way Kai has to in order to find Reev. Adding the immortals into the story gives it an extremely surreal feel, because you never know when or where they're going to show up, or what, exactly, their plans are. Especially when they find out about Kai's abilities, because suddenly they're playing a game with no rules and Kai's just a pawn.
Basically: there's a whole story happening that you will never see, and your mind will explode when it merges with Kai's arc. Get the mop and bucket ready.
Unfortunately, I do have a qualm. And what makes it worse is that the qualm has everything to do with this mystery plot line you never see. And, no, it's not that you don't see it until it's completely played out.
GATES has a terrific concept. Like I said, it's mind-blowing. However, I think too much plot was pushed into one book, so whenever twists and turns took place there wasn't enough time to revel in them before voom the characters were off somewhere else. There was so much background, so much information about the characters, and simply so much happening within the span of 333 pages. I understand that there's a sequel in the works (*squealing*), so I'm holding off a lot of opinions overall until I see where the second book goes.
In terms of this book, though, I think the plot as a whole could have benefited from more pages, and more time, in order for the reader to be able to fully experience what this novel has to offer before being carted off to a new scene/event.
Characters-Kai. Really, that's all there is. Kai. And imagine me drawing a little heart around her name.
Let me explain: Kai is basically fabulous. I definitely think she's one of my favorite heroines (right there at the top with Cinder and Scarlet from Marissa Meyer's THE LUNAR CHRONICLES). The reason for this is as follows: she's not the toughest girl on the block, but she knows how to bluff enough confidence that the less savory characters in the Labyrinth leave her alone. And some of these characters only leave her alone when Reev's around to punch their face in. She's strong when she needs to be, but has no reservations about admitting her own shortcomings and doubts-even if that confession is only to herself. She's not ashamed to admit when she needs someone by her side (like Avan), and when it comes down to it she's going to live her life on her own terms, and if (*cough*when*cough*) she finds out that somebody's playing her like a fiddle and her choices aren't really her own but decisions made by somebody else, well she's got a few things to say about that.
And she can manipulate time. That's freaking awesome, too.
I think what I find so wonderful about Kai is that she knows when she can't do something alone. She hates when others put themselves in danger for her sake, but she knows that, without them, she cannot accomplish what she's after. To me, that shows a really special kind of strength.
On the other side of the fantastic duo is Avan, the only friend Kai's really ever had and the only person Kai trusts. And he's...I have no words. Selfless? I mean, I get that his home life isn't so great, but this guy is everything I ever wanted in a friend and possible Love Interest (because, really, who wouldn't love him?). Avan drops everything for Kai, to help her find her brother. Basically, he's just so stinking loyal.
So, loyal and selfless. He'd do anything for Kai (and boy, does he really). Even as I'm writing this I'm thinking, "well, gosh, doesn't that paint him as a bit desperate?" My answer: not really. I mean, seriously, he doesn't come across as anything less than a hero in my eyes.
And now I'm going to go and sulk because Kai and Avan are so fantastic that there are no words and wonder why I can't have people like them in my life (beyond the ink on the page, that is).
As for a few other characters (Reev, Mason, Famine, etc): I liked them. I really, truly did. They were mysterious and interesting and super intriguing. But.
Just like with the plot line, I don't think we got to spend enough time with them. Too much of their histories and natures (and some of this ties in with Avan's character, as well) was simply skimmed over, leaving me without enough detail to be truly satisfying. Just like with the plot (again) things were introduced or commented on, and there simply weren't enough explanations or at least hints beforehand, so when a few details popped out of the woodwork I was left feeling slightly cheated.
Final Answer: 4 / 5
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