Silvern is the second book in Christina Farley's Korean YA fantasy trilogy, which began with Gilded. The main character is Jae Hwa, an American Korean who has moved to South Korea with her father for his work a few years after the death of her mother. In the first book, Jae Hwa broke a curse on her family that had doomed generations of women to death at the hands of the demi-god Haemosu. Now, just when she's starting to think that life might get back to normal, she finds out that the god of darkness, Kud, wants her to find the White Tiger Orb, one of the six that are supposed to protect Korea, and bring it to him...or he'll kill her friends and family.
This was not a good book. This series had a lot of promise in the beginning and while the first book had its issues, the promise of a non-white MC, Korean mythology, etc. made me want to read this second volume. I finally got around to it (despite having owned it for a long while) because it has a tiger on the cover and I needed a book to fulfill my 2017 reading challenge category of, "A book with a cat on the cover." I went into it with high hopes, but found myself so terribly disappointed.
In theory, Jae Hwa should be an awesome heroine. The book starts with her preparing to get her second-degree black belt in tae kwon do. She lives in Korea and has killed a demi-god and is kind of mistress of his realm now. So cool, right? But her martial arts trend toward descriptions of back flips and cartwheels--which, of course, are terribly efficient modes of transport, much more so than, you know, running--and flying kicks which would be more at home in a bad martial arts movie than in any sort of efficient fighting scenario. She can shoot a bow but she never has it with her when she needs it. (This is probably semi-excusable, because walking around with a bow in modern Korea all the time would be a bit weird, but still. One would think that if one was being stalked by murderous magical creatures, one would pass up being weird for being prepared, at least some of the time.) And on top of my frustrations with Jae Hwa, the plot itself is just whack.
See, to get this mysterious orb, Jae Hwa has to go to North Korea. Yes. North Korea. And she convinces her school to send her, along with her best friend, boyfriend, grandfather, and another young member of her grandfather's secret society, who, by the way, is also putting the moves on Jae. Hmmm... Can this possibly go well? No. No it cannot. Even the thinnest veil of logic is missing here--this is a school trip, supposedly, but fully half its members do not belong to Jae's school. And Jae's father, who believes his daughter to be mentally unstable, agrees to it. What? He doesn't like it, but he still lets her go. As an American. To North Korea. Ugh.
And then there's the pacing, which is entirely off. There are chapters where different creatures are attacking Jae & Co. every two paragraphs, and then long stretches of chapters where she and her friends do nothing but plan parties or read books. It's very uneven, stacked in some places and lacking in others. I thought that an interesting love triangle might actually liven things up here, but that clearly didn't go as planned, so that ended up being a no-go, too. Ugh. The end of the book has a bit of promise, but honestly I can't go through another book of this stuff, so I don't think I'll be reading it.
I'll give it 2 stars out of 5, but it's more for the promise it displayed than the actual delivery.