Gates of Thread and Stone
Author: Lori M. Lee
Release: August 5th 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, Paranormal
#1 in the Gates of Thread & Stone duology
Sequel: The Infinite (#2)
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.
That ending just made me retract half a star from this review. No. Fuck that shit.
Yet another very, very mediocre novel that tries to be whimsical and epic in scale but ultimately falls short in all respects. I truly thought I would end up extremely liking this, and expected to, but when I still couldn't get into the whole thing by the half-time mark, I finally gave up and submitted myself to this ... well, I wouldn't say torture. It wasn't bad outright, but simply really tedious: it was predictable as hell, with dull characters, no unique relationships, no interesting plot, basically, it was just the longest sigh ever.
The driving force behind the whole thing, or at least what I thought was the main plot point of the book was Kai's power, that she could weave the threads of time and make it slow down, and I was like "Hey! That's hella cool!" And it was. But it was also so insignificant in the end, and explained in such an unsatisfactory fashion that I am calling shenanigans. I do not content myself with such a half-assed story on top of such a half-assed demonstration of her powers. They came into play so rarely, and I mean really come into play, not just be a plot device to save the protagonist from danger.
As for the whole plot and back story of the place, I am still left with many, many questions. I will say that I did appreciate the fact that it wasn't all explained in one paragraph in form of an info dump, but then again, some things were continuously mentioned from early on and never explained up until halfway through, leaving me wondering what the hell they're talking about and honestly, in that case, I would have actually preferred the info dump over the constant "What the FRICKLE FRACKLE are you even talking about?"
Furthermore, please be specific about the world they inhabit. There was a map in the beginning, cool beans, but what was the point of it? According to the map there are "undiscovered lands" but that doesn't bother anyone. Seriously. The MCs have one scene where they wonder whether or not there might be more cities out there than just theirs, but that's it. That's fucking it. So, from what I can gather judging by all the information we got throughout the whole book, the history of this place kind of went like this: There are Infinities, which I assume are kind of like gods because they have these special powers, and they never interfered with the mortal world, up until the world kind of went through an apocalypse? Called the Rebirth? That was when the sun stopped shining, but how could that even be possible, because without the sun, a new ice age would come to pass and all living organisms on Earth would fucking die? Anyways, lots of people did die after all, but they were some witch dudes called mahjo (I pronounced like mayo the entire time, come on, what do you expect) but they were all wiped out eventually too? Somehow? And there was this one mayo dude that founded this city and now that is apparently the only city left. There's the "Outlands" with genetically altered reptilian things called the gargoyles that eat humans and after that the "Void", a wasteland that seems to change constantly and, oh yeah, you can cross the Outlands and get to the Void within, like, 8 hours. So practically, it's all right around the corner! And again, nobody ever bothered to check out those "undiscovered lands" that were mentioned once and never again. WHAT. WHAT. If this sounded extremely confusing, I can reassure you that I am confused, too.
As for the characters... well. We have Kai, who has a boy's name but is actually a girl (just kidding, I know Kai is a unisex name. I know a gal in real life who's called Kai as well) and we have Avan, no not Avan Jogia — just Avan. Avan, who I at first liked because he is a "freewheeling bisexual" which I admired about him because he openly admits that "gender doesn't matter", but I soon started to just ... not care. It's not that I grew to dislike him, but he developed into such a random cookie cutter character that I felt totally apathetic towards him. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Kai, on the other hand ... well, our relationships is complicated. She isn't completely stupid and I could see why she made the choices and decisions she did, but a lot of the time I was also wondering how she could be such a bumbling idiot and not see the totally obvious plot points laid out in front of her. Going into this with examples would be spoilery, but it was alarming how slow she was to come to conclusions and, even more importantly, actually confront people about it. She was so satisfied with leaving things how they are, never questioning anybody for fear they could get irritated at her poking around and leave her. Which, hey, I can totally relate — that is a fear of mine too, and this might sound very hypocritical, but if it seriously hinders the plot from moving forward, then I do have a problem with this character flaw of hers. Sorry not sorry.
The relationships were as bland as the entire book itself. I couldn't get a grip on Reev and Kai's relationship at all, which, quite frankly, made me really unsympathetic towards Kai's cause of finding her lost brother. Avan and Kai's romance was, thankfully, not as bad as I'd first feared it would be, actually. In fact, in the beginning I was starting to kind of like them and think they're cute, but honestly, after a while of their constant back and forth, I got a little tired of their shenanigans. If you asked me, they would be better off just friends, and not ruining that friendship. In turn, I kind of even welcomed this barely there love triangle, because I think Mason would be a much better romantic fit for Kai, but I guess it's not to be. A shame, really.
In the end, I was really disappointed how unimportant the whole time slowing magic thing was, because I thought that was the only really intriguing plot point of the whole book, since I have come across all the other elements that make this book up before. From the missing brother plot starter up to the very last reveal about Kai's past, and since I already knew what would be happening in advance, the tension was simply absent. Plus, you know that little pet peeve I have about character deaths? Specifically, fake character deaths? Yeah, for fuck's sake that was abused so often in this novel I'm really mad about it.