Monday, October 13, 2014

YA Guy Reviews... SILVERN by Christina Farley (plus a giveaway)!

When YA Guy was asked to review Christina Farley's SILVERN, book two of the GILDED trilogy, I jumped at the opportunity. I loved Christina's debut, a YA fantasy based on Korean mythology, and I couldn't wait to read the follow-up. Now that I've done so, I have to report that it's not as good as GILDED.

Because it's even BETTER!

That's right, SILVERN ups the ante on its predecessor and creates an even more intense, inventive, involving read. Check out my review below, and then read about Christina and enter to win a SILVERN giveaway!

After destroying the demigod Haemosu, Jae Hwa Lee figures her life will go back to normal: hanging out with her best friend Michelle and her boyfriend Marc, learning about the Korean past from her grandfather, and trying to connect to her distant father, who's thrown himself into his work as a way of forgetting his wife's death. But then Jae Hwa is confronted by an even more powerful supernatural opponent: Kud, the god of darkness. Where Haemosu wanted only Jae Hwa's soul, Kud wants the power contained within the White Tiger Orb, a power that might give him control over both the Spirit World and the human realm. To defeat him, Jae Hwa will have to confront both man-made threats--in the form of a trip to the totalitarian state of North Korea--and horrifying beasts from myth and legend. And she will also have to face a terrible choice, one that pits the lives of her loved ones against her very freedom.

Everything I loved about GILDED is on full display in SILVERN: the action sequences, the imaginative settings and creatures, the strong teenage characters, the conflict between Jae Hwa's desire to live a carefree life and her awareness that other lives depend on her. But by producing a deadlier opponent in the form of Kud, and by placing much of the novel's action in North Korea, Farley has exceeded GILDED in tension, danger, and emotional complexity. In this passage, for example, we find Jae Hwa longing not only for power over supernatural events but for the ability to intervene in the human world:

"I stare at the picture behind me of the little girl, lying on a mat in a barren concrete house. I don't know her name, but I want to. Nearly everyone is exiting the gym to head outside to the soccer field, except Kag-dae, so I scribble my wish onto the lantern.

"To be powerful enough to stop the evil."

Evil, in this context, has nothing to do with gods or monsters. It has to do with inhumanity, the rule of the powerful over the weak, the insanity of a world where suffering has no easy source or solution. That's a much more difficult evil to defeat than the god of darkness, and it's a much more powerful lesson for young people to learn as they grow up to face the real world.

It's Farley's increasing maturity as a writer that enables her to approach these subjects, and to her credit, she does not try to wave a magic wand to resolve them. I can't say more without giving too much away--so I'll just say that the ending of SILVERN will haunt you. And at the same time, it'll leave you wishing for more from this talented new voice in YA.

SILVERN is available at Amazon, BAM, IndieBound, and Barnes & Noble

CHRISTINA FARLEY, author of Gilded and Silvern, was born and raised in upstate New York. As a child, she loved to explore, which later inspired her to jump on a plane and travel the world. She taught at international schools in Asia for ten years, eight of which were in the mysterious and beautiful city of Seoul, Korea that became the setting of Gilded. Currently she lives in Clermont, FL with her husband and two sons—that is, until the travel itch whisks her off to a new unknown. Christina holds a master’s degree in education and has taught for eighteen years. She is represented by Jeff Ourvan of Jennifer Lyons Literary.

To learn more about Christina, follow these links:

Twitter: @ChristinaFarley

And to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway, go here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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