A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fantasy meant to entertain.
Define yourself for yourself. Know your identity and your value.
Positive Role Models
The world of the novel is centered on Black people, who are described as beautiful and coming in a variety of skin colors. A mentor who has endured great pain leads Deka to understand her gifts and the obligation those gifts bring. There's a realistic depiction of an intimate, supportive teen friend group. There are same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
Violence & Scariness
Violent episodes are consistent with a fantasy novel set in a war. There is stabbing, beheading, shooting with arrows, and injury by throwing rocks. Some people and creatures come back to life after being killed through these methods.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There's a conversation among young people about their virginity, mentions of "feeling up" people, and instances of same-sex and opposite-sex couples sleeping together.
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A clan of powerful women are labeled "bitches."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Namina Forna's The Gilded Ones is the first in a planned West Africa-inspired fantasy trilogy about a 16-year-old girl who's deemed "impure" in her in patriarchal society. While accepted members of her village bleed red, her blood runs gold, and she faces the possibility of being executed for this. So, when a strange woman invites her to go to the capitol and participate in the fight against nonhuman creatures, she agrees. There's a conversation among young people about their virginity, mentions of "feeling up" people, and instances of same-sex and opposite-sex couples sleeping together. Violent episodes are consistent with a fantasy novel set during a war. There's stabbing, beheading, shooting with arrows, and injury by throwing rocks. Some people and creatures come back to life after being killed through these methods.
Is It Any Good?
Readers will recognize Deka's struggles and triumphs in this exciting fantasy about a brave teen girl fighting the patriarchy. The Gilded Ones, by first-time author Namina Forna, doesn't try to hide its feminist commentary about the fear of women's power, and the lengths a patriarchal society will go to quell it, from absurd rules to outright violence. Despite the righteous anger it contains, this book comforts more often than it shocks or riles. Deka is an innocent, filled with wonder as she puzzles together her history and finds her place in the world. She finds a mentor, friends, a sweetheart, a mind-blowing secret, and finally herself. Strengths of the text include gorgeous language and meticulous worldbuilding.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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