Title: Gates of Thread and Stone
Author: Lori M. Lee
Series: Gates of Thread and Stone, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 2 / 5
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.
-- As seen on Goodreads
My expectations were really high when I began reading Gates of Thread and Stone. The premise sounds so good! I loved the beginning of the book, and I thought I’d found a new favourite series, but unfortunately things began to slip a bit shortly after that and they didn’t fully recover.
Initially, I liked Kai, and I still do to a certain degree. She seemed a bit hot-headed and impulsive, but her heart was in the right place. She’s seventeen, and lives in the Labyrinth area of Ninurta: an area made entirely of freight containers that have been turned into roughly constructed housing units. I loved Kai’s determination to find Reev (her non-biological "brother") and the street-smarts she exhibited at the beginning… but I don’t feel it lasted. One minute, she’s awesome, the next she gives in to blind naivety! She became wishy-washy and aloof, and it made very little sense to me. In honest, her entire character felt a bit inconsistent as the story progressed.
And Avan. Oh, Avan… how I disliked you. He’s our love interest, and he did seem mildly interesting in the beginning, but the more I read, the more I ended up disliking him. I don’t like saying this, but to me, he’s the perfect example of a card-board cut out. His personality was pretty much non-existent, and I didn’t feel anything toward him apart from irritation. The only character I was interested in was Mason. I thought he was adorable! I really wish there was more emphasis on him in this book. I liked his personality: he’s serious when he needs to be serious, yet lightens the mood and jokes around, too. In comparison to Avan, he felt a lot more well-rounded and balanced.
I really disliked the focus that Kai puts on Avan, and I was so disappointed that most of the emphasis was on her fluttery feelings for him, and how distracted she gets whenever he’s in her proximity. The book is written in the first person, and Kai is our narrator, so EVERYTHING is seen through an Avan-filter. It detracted an awful lot from my opinion of Kai’s character overall. An example of this was when Mason brought her to see the gargoyles while they were in The Void. She had absolutely no interest in learning about them at all! Erm, well… little ol' me as the reader would have liked to find out more about the gargoyles! All she cared about was leaving to go sit in the Sun with Avan… -_-
I’m so disappointed that I didn’t love the book like I thought I would. Everything started out so well, but by the end the entire plot and world-building elements felt very disjointed and all over the place. Initially, I let things slide, thinking I’d get lots more explanations and details as the story progressed. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. Honestly, it felt like I got lots of detail where none is needed (ie. Avan), and no details where they WERE needed (ie. everything else!). The flow of the plot didn’t feel natural at all, it felt very rigidly planned, and a bit over plotted, like X had to happen before Y, and then Z could shortly follow. By the end of the book, I ended up feeling very confused about the overall outlook for the series. While I was reading I kept getting the feeling the book was based on a mish-mash of Greek mythology, only disguised in a fantasy-like post-apocalyptic/dystopian world. When a Greek Titan showed up at one point, I had one of those weird ‘Aha, I knew it… but WHY?!’ moments. Very confusing!
I think I could have overlooked some of the issues I had if the ending had been epic. Unfortunately, the ending in general left me feeling very underwhelmed and disappointed. Personally, I didn’t like it at all, and it was too unbelievable for my tastes. Overall, Gates of Thread and Stone had bags of potential, and I’m so disappointed that I feel it didn’t live up to the awesomeness that the synopsis hinted at.