YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Gateway by Sharon Shinn

Gateway by Sharon Shinn
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: October 15th 2009
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Bronze star (2/5 stars)

Synopsis: 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…

Review: Gateway had a wonderful premise sounded somewhat original, so I was hoping that I would love it but it did not meet my standards. When I first read the summary, I expected Gateway to be fast-paced with lots of action going on as she was recruited a spy. But the whole book was slow for me and I felt some chapters could have been edited out.

There was a lot of background information provided which I felt that it gave the readers a clear insight of the world. It was well-detailed and readers had a better understanding of the people and the Chinese culture. But still, not all of it was necessary. In fact, the spy training only happened for the first half of the book… which was rather disappointing. The other half was spent preparing for meeting the bad guy and sightseeing.

Daiyu’s character was ok, at first, but she quickly grew tiresome and frustrating. She had so many romantic interests that I was confused about her feelings and I felt that she herself had conflicting feelings about the person she truly loves. There was also a lack of character development which really annoyed me. To be honest, the story was boring and the characters were flat.


I was beyond pissed when there was a twist 3/4 way in the book… something around the lines of ‘conflicting feelings’. It was unbelievable that Daiyu had a change of heart so quickly. Minus points for being unrealistic. I also hated the ending. It was unsatisfactory, I honestly felt as if I wasted my time reading this book because at the end, nothing big differed from the beginning.


The abrupt ending really killed the book. If the ending had been solid, the book probably would have gotten a higher rating. I am pretty sure this is a stand alone but correct me if I’m wrong. Sorry, but I think you should borrow this book from the library. Overall the writing was pretty good but there just wasn’t enough of it to make up for the overall dissatisfaction.


Comments on: "Gateway by Sharon Shinn" (1)

  1. Oh dear this is a disappointing review. I just got Gateway (won it in a contest) and like you, I think the plot sounds really original and I was thinking ther would be lots of action. But your review has cooled my excitement 😦 Thanks for such a good, honest review! I’ll read Gateway anyway, but I won’t rush to read it right away.

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