Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee

Gates of Thread and Stone felt like a book of greatly missed opportunities: flashes of originality and brilliance quickly buried by mediocre writing and a soppy romance. There just wasn’t enough meat on these bones to distinguish it beyond every other YA distopian that’s come out in the past few years.

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Story: Kai has been raised by a ‘brother’ as orphans on the streets of Ninurta – one of the few cities to rise up after magic and technology wars destroyed most of the world. When her brother disappears, Kai must travel out of the City and into the dangers of the wild to find him. Accompanied by sexy neighbor Avan, who has looked out for her since she was young, Kai will brave the Gargoyles and the rebels in order to find her brother, Reev.

Readers of the genre will recognize these plot tropes from many YA dystopian novels:

–  obsessing over sexy boy who watches over her mysteriously – and neither figuring out despite clues bigger than a mac truck that they like each other.
–  Big misunderstandings to keep them apart.
–  Dystopian city with eeeeevil leader.
–  unique snowflake girl with special ability.
–  leaving dystopian city to find out that it was all a lie (!)
–  Meeting up with rebels only to find out they may be as bad.
–  Someone is going to be secretly related to ‘royalty’ (most likely the heroine).
–  lack of parents/orphan/mysterious past.
–  heroine has special ability but doesn’t know how to use it.
–  heroine gets unrealistically ‘leveled up’ in fighting techniques in a few days.
–  arena battles!
–  desolated dystopian landscape with deadly twisted creatures outside that somehow never manage to kill our heroine or her boy toy love interest.

Honestly, I felt like I had read this book before and was kind of bored as a result.  The whole misunderstanding/misinterpretation thing between Kai and Avan began to get old fast and I got tired of her admiring his various sexy body parts (can’t she admire his intelligence?). I had to wonder if the book would have been better had they started a tentative romance instead. Then at least the plot could have progressed further.

Kai’s background and powers were very underwhelming. They could have been interesting and the author done some nifty things with the power. Instead, the applications of that power were mundane. It felt like a writer problem – that only the romance was the consideration and so not enough thought really went into the actual mechanics of the world or plot.  The whole reason for her being abandoned/found by her ‘brother’ Reeve was especially unbelievable and wince-worthy. Let’s not get into the ‘twist’ about why Reeve was taken, which really made me want to roll my eyes.

As a Twinkie-type entertainment (sweet but empty) I’m sure this is fine as a Sunday read. But i can’t help but feel there are so many better books or ways to spend my time.  Note: I listened to the Audible version of this book and the narrator did a decent job.

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