Publication Date/Version: Ocotober 2009/Hardcover
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Other Shelf Tours (Thanks!)
As a Chinese adoptee in St. Louis, teenage Daiyu often feels out of place. When an elderly Asian jewelry seller at a street fair shows her a black jade ring—and tells her that “black jade” translates to “Daiyu”—she buys it as a talisman of her heritage. But it’s more than that; it’s magic. It takes Daiyu through a gateway into a version of St. Louis much like 19th century China. Almost immediately she is recruited as a spy, which means hours of training in manners and niceties and sleight of hand. It also means stealing time to be with handsome Kalen, who is in on the plan. There’s only one problem. Once her task is done, she must go back to St. Louis and leave him behind forever. . . .
After a strange series of events, including buying a black jade ring and being transported to the world of Jia, Daiyu is more than a little frazzled. She has passed through a gateway into a parallel universe of St. Louis, one that is similar to China. She meets Kalen, whom she develops feelings for, and is recruited into spying, for what, they tell her, is for the good of the world. As Daiyu works toward accomplishing her task, she also faces a difficult decision: leaving behind Kalen.
Gateway being my first venture into Sharon Shinn's works, I was ultimately impressed. She has quite the ability to bring a story to life with rich detail and a solid plot. I was immersed quickly in Daiyu's new world, along with the strange and interesting facts. This book was a great start to, what I hope, an exciting new series.
Daiyu was instantly likable - hardworking, kind, and average. She was easy to connect with, and her confusion while traveling was completely understandable. Kalen, as well, quickly gain my liking. He was sweet and kind, unlike many love interests in today's YA culture. What was great about him was that he was first a friend and then a love interest. Daiyu and Kalen's relationship progressed naturally and realistically.
The overall plot was enrapturing and exciting. I loved the general plot and was quickly drawn in. While so much information could have seemed overwhelming, Ms. Shinn fed bits of information to the reader at just the right pace. I enjoyed the secondary characters, though, just like Daiyu, I wasn't sure what to think about some of them. My opinions switched back and forth often, and I was never quite sure who to trust. That was one of my main problems with this story. Daiyu trusted a bit too quickly for my likes. I understand that when thrust into a new world, you'd want someone to trust, but I believe Daiyu should have been more wary.
I always love learning about other cultures, even made up ones apparently, so I immensely enjoyed Daiyu's lessons in manners and customs. I found each rule and way of thought interesting. Even when the plot lulled, it was never boring. The characters, story, and interactions kept this book moving.
Overall: Great read. Engaging new world and a sweet love interest. Wonderful imagery.
My Advice: Buy it. I can't wait to own a copy for myself.
Cover: So pretty. I really love it. In person the colors are gorgeous and eye-catching. It's lush and makes perfect sense after reading the book.
*This was read as a part of the 100+ Reading Challenge