If I were to make a list of all the cringe-worthy young adult books I have read and at times enjoyed (though usually for the wrong reasons) Golden would definitely be up there. This is the first part to a series which presents itself as an alternative version of the Goldilocks story. Which sounds wonderful, we all know I love a good fairytale. But what about Golden makes it worth reading and is it a story for the ages or more of a ‘read once and then never speak of again’?
When the girl with the golden hair betrays everyone, not even she has hope of surviving.
The stories say that Goldilocks was a naïve girl who wandered into a house one day. Those stories were wrong. She was never naïve. It was all a perfectly executed plan to get her into the Baers’ group to destroy them.
Trained by her cousin, Lowell, and handler, Shadoe, Auluria’s mission is to destroy the Baers by getting close to the youngest brother, Dov, his brother and sister-in-law and the leaders of the Baers’ group. When she realizes Dov isn’t as evil as her cousin led her to believe, she must figure out how to play both sides or her deception will cause everyone in her world to burn.
If her allegiances are discovered, either side could destroy her…if the Society doesn’t get her first.
So you see why I chose to title this post as I did. I couldn’t entirely work out who was revolting against whom in this book but I know there were some people withholding food from others and that quite a lot of people were quite angry about various things.
What I feel this book really could have benefitted from (and it still could benefit from) a prequel. Auluria was a pretty cool character and she had so much development that had happened before the start of the book with all the combat training etc. I for one love a combat training section to a book and I think it would have helped me, the reader, to better understand her motivations.
The book also feels at times as though it just needs a little bit of reworking. For instance, the book opens and Auluria is suffering from Amnesia and can’t remember how she came to be in the Baer household. I thought this was going to be a really cool plot device and that we’d spend the first half of the book discovering what the Baer’s were like and then suddenly she’d realise she was meant to betray them! Wouldn’t that have been epic? Instead, around two pages later her memory just restores itself. As I say this isn’t an utterly terrible opening, it just felt like a missed opportunity to me.
Now let’s talk about the romance. Dov was a pretty cool romantic interest, not particularly novel in any way. But what really struck me about this was the predictability of it all. By about twenty pages in I could work out exactly what was going to happen. There were also some wonderfully awkward romantic lines:
‘I couldn’t bear to see him shirtless again without staring’
-I hope to high heaven that this was a deliberate pun.
or the impeccable:
‘”Why do you care?” I asked softly, needing to know. “Because you are worth it,” he whispered’
-Is this a YA novel or a Loreal Advert?
As much as I could disparage this I will admit that it was an interesting take on the Goldilocks story. I think it could definitely become something interesting in the future, but perhaps needs a bit more editing to make it feel a bit more realistic (other than the fantasy elements) but particularly the romantic dialogue.
If you’re looking for a cosy young adult fantasy novel to read mindlessly while you’re falling asleep in the bath then you’ll probably enjoy Golden. I wasn’t planning on waiting for the second one and then Robinson left the juicy teaser that they’re going to explain how Auluria gets the nickname ‘Goldilocks’ in the next book which actually got me pretty interested again. Although if it transpires it’s just because she has gold hair I will be unsurprised but still disappointed.
I desperately wanted to like this more than I did. It just about scraped 3/5 stars. Enjoyable but not desperately noteworthy.
By the way: I received a digital review copy of Golden from the publisher (Snowy Wings Publishing) via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, all my opinions are my own.
Any particular thoughts about Golden? Let me know via twitter (@judithcmoore) or via the comments below. I love hearing from you guys so go on, make my day!