Title: Gilded Cage
Author: Vic James
Publication Date: 2/14/17
How I Found It: NetGalley graciously provided me a copy in exchange for a review.
Date Completed: 1/19/17
Summary: Sometime in the future, a certain sect of the population has developed special powers. These "Equals" rule over the rest of the people and, in England at least, demand ten years service as a slave from each normal citizen. Gilded Cage explores the ramifications of a society like this through the lens of one powerful Equal family and the "normal" family who signs up to complete their slave years in their service.
What I Thought: I liked this book. It took some very familiar concepts - dystopian world, a sect of the population having special powers, class warfare - and wove them together into a good story. It's easy to see that this is James' first novel - and I say that as someone who is eternally trying to write her first novel. There's some polish and panache that is missing here. The bones of the thing, however, are really strong. She's got good characters and a good plot.
The story is told from a variety of perspectives, mainly centering around two families: one Equal and one "normal" who are starting their ten slave years. The idea of the required slave years is an interesting one and I made me want to know more about the potential political and economic rational for such a thing. James touches on how other countries (the book is set in England) handle the disparity between Equals and the general population. I really liked that she did that. It helped to know that the whole world was not handling this phenomenon in the same way; it gave the story a credibility that is often lacking when an author just immerses themselves in one place and ignores the rest of humanity that is, theoretically, still out there.
As James begins to tie the threads of the plot together, she includes some great twists. SPOILER AHEAD. I thought having Angel and Jackson be Hier Meilyr and Bodina Matravers was a GREAT twist. I suspected something was up with Bodina, but never would have guessed that! It's always so satisfying to have a truly shocking moment. It gives me such respect for the author and their creative juices.
I'm anxious to see how James continues the story in the sequels. Of course, since this book just came out, I'll have to wait a while for that. I enjoyed the story, particularly how directly she dealt with class issues. She didn't shy away from the major horrors that result from systems of slavery and oppression, yet she didn't make them overly graphic either. My opinion is that she has played a strong opening hand and I look forward to seeing her play out the rest of the game in this series.
Will I Re-Read: Unlikely, but I'll read the next book when it comes out.
If You Liked This, Try: Red Queen
A Reduced Review: While not perfectly crafted, this dystopian fantasy has some unique, interesting ideas and deals with big social issues in a refreshingly direct way.