Gilded and Silvern are the first two books in a young adult trilogy by Christina Farley that follow Korean-American teen Jae, who moves to Seoul with her father and ends up pissing off some gods in the Korean spirit world. Oops.
I definitely enjoyed these books, both of which I read in one day – both on days that involved flying and waiting around at the airport. If you’re looking for something different – and fast – to read, I think you should give them a try. Reviews and comments are sort of all over the place on these two, so here’s what I think you should know:
1. There has been all kinds of talk recently on the need for diversity in books, particularly young adult books, because all readers should be able to see themselves reflected in literature. The GIlded series takes place in Korea, but Jae’s story is that of an American-born girl who grew up in L.A., transported to Korea – where she goes to an international school. I don’t think this means the book is less “authentic” – in fact, I think it makes for a relatable story. After all, how many American teenagers (of all backgrounds) have only a passing connection to their ancestral ethnic heritage, primarily through food and holidays? Jae has a few things she loves about Korea, but she’s learning about the country, the people, and the mythology as she goes.
2. The author, Christina Farley, is an American who spent years teaching in Korea. Ditto above – she’s not writing about the experience of being Korean, but that of an American in Korea.
3. Sometimes Jae acts like an idiot. And sometimes she treats her friend Michelle like she’s an idiot. Sigh – I think this is a common YA problem – as in Young Adult, the genre, as well as young adults, the people.
4. The romance (of course there’s a romance) happens super-fast and escalates quickly from the start of book 1 to the end of book 2. Again, that seems to be the case in YA. And, to be fair, they do go through some pretty intense experiences together, which perhaps ups the feelings of LUV.
5. These books definitely make Seoul come alive, and I felt like a learned a few things about Korea from reading them. And, in Silvern, there are some thought-provoking bits on North Korea. I appreciated all these real-life details in addition to the spirit-world setting.
Anyone else have thoughts on GIlded and Silvern?