Author: Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #1
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
This book has all the potentials to make a must read for me. First, it’s historical young adult, set in 1849. So not only is it historical, but it is set in one of the most important time frames in American history – the western expansion thanks to the gold rush. It also contains a small fantasy element in the fact that our main character, Leah/Lee, can sense gold. Which means she will, of course, want to travel to California to join in on the gold rush, right?
Lee has all the workings to be a strong, fierce main character. An only child, it doesn’t matter that she’s a girl in a time frame where women were basically there to keep house and bred children. Lee works hard on the family homestead, even more so now that her father has taken ill and is struggling to recover.
Unfortunately, as the story unfolds, these elements for an amazing story never mesh completely. Lee, understandingly, is at a loss when her world comes crumbling around her and she strikes off to try to reunite when the one true friend she’s ever really had and trusted. All along the way, she struggles when keeping her identity a secret and trying to survive in a world not meant for one alone. While realistic, it makes it harder to see Lee as this strong, fierce, independent person. And while her character develops ever so slightly down the line, I never get a good read on her.
The same goes for the other characters in the story, and I think that is the greatest shame of all. For a story that spends the most of the time traveling/walking, the story leans on the characters for supports. And when you don’t develop the characters, the plot starts to lag and crawl in places. Then it feels like Carson rushes the plot too quickly to throw in excitement and suspense to jar the reader’s attention again. And while it does add adventure to the tale, it makes the pacing of the story so disjointed that it isn’t a smooth sailing straight through.
While I definitely found some faults with the story – the romantic element rearing its ugly head now and then as well – it was still a fun read in a young adult genre that doesn’t get too much volume. I enjoyed it a bit more than Vengeance Road, which is the only other western YA novel I’ve been able to stumble across so far this year. So though I wasn’t blown away by any standards, I’ll probably still pick up the next installment of the trilogy when it comes, for the sake of the setting.