Review of Gateway by Sharon Shinn

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review of Gateway by Sharon ShinnGateway by Sharon Shinn
Published by Penguin on 2009-10-15
Genres: Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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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. . . .

Gateway by Sharon Shinn has a rather beautiful, colorful cover featuring two people hiding behind a red parasol. Frankly, that was the most striking thing about Gateway. It had all of the elements to be really awesome: parallel universes, cultural subversion, the fact that it’s YA, and a romantical element. (Romantical is a word frequently used by Flava Flav). However, Gateway by Sharon Shinn was one of those books which, well, I read it, and moved on to the next book without any sort of a second thought.

As for plot, Gateway by Sharon Shinn involves this girl, Daiyu who is an adopted Chinese-American. She goes to this street fair in Saint Louis, some creeper old lady entices her with a ring, Daiyu puts the ring on, goes under the arch and disappears into a parallel world, called iterations, where instead of whites being the dominant culture, the dominant culture is the Chinese. Of course, Daiyu meets some friends and foes. She gets into adventures. The back cover calls her a spy, but really, she’s more of a tool, in that she’s being used by others to achieve a goal.
I do think the element of making the Chinese (or the Han) the dominant race was interesting. It was cool to see how much society changed. For example, Chinese New Year was huge in the iteration Daiyu was sent to. The whites were called Cangbai (I could be wrong on the spelling). The people lived in a caste system. However, there was also elements of other cultures, such as regency-era dancing within the culture.
As far as a character, Daiyu was fine by me, except for she seemed rather stereotypical. I mean, she’s awesome at school, she’s well-mannered, responsible. She does a ton of things. She does show independent thinking from time to time, but a lot of time, I sort of wanted her to be more sassy and full of spunk. I’d like to read a book about a smart-mouth Asian girl. (Gateway did not fulfill that want.). Oh, and she also gets a crush/love on this boy, Kalen, really, unreasonably quickly. Kalen is this white guy who helped her out when she popped into the parallel world, go figure that she would get a crush on him. I didn’t really find a whole lot to be special about him, although I suppose in life people go around falling in love with people who don’t have anything special about them all of the time.
Overall, Gateway by Sharon Shinn was just average, sort of a filler book between heavier reads. It wasn’t something which will keep me up at night thinking. I’d recommend Gateway by Sharon Shinnย if you want a quick read with some interesting thoughts on time travel/societal structures. While reading this book, instead of drinking, eat an egg-roll, your local Chinese restaurant probably has them, and let me tell you they are a piece of heaven, so you can eat something fab, while reading a not-so-fab book.

Other reviews of Gateway by Sharon Shinn:

This was read as part of the PoC Challenge as it features a PoC main character!
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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. ~The Book Pixie says

    I've heard a lot of so-so reviews on this book so I'm not sure I'll bother with it. Appreciate the honest review, as always. ๐Ÿ˜€

    BTW, lovin the new layout! ๐Ÿ™‚ It is new right? Otherwise I feel awful for not noticing you changed it sooner. lol. XD


  2. MissAttitude says

    Agreed! The whole romance thing was like "oh you're the first boy I see therefore I love you". I do love the cover. And she was so not a spoy, ugh. The lack of action really irked me.

    I agree with the wish for more smart-mouth Asian protagonist. I'd recommend She's So Money by Cherry Cheva. Maya is the mc, and she's pretty sarcastic. Also Good Enough by Paula Yoo is pretty funny even though Patti never talks back to anyone she thinks really funny stuff.

  3. I had the same reaction to GATEWAY, which is a shame as she's such a wonderful writer. Have you read any of her adult stuff?

  4. No egg-rolls in Germany…isn't that SAD??! The Chinese restaurants here have spring rolls, but no egg rolls.

  5. Juju at Tales of says

    Sorry you didn't love it. I adored it.

    I LOVE the egg roll recommendation ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. What a pity it wasn't more memorable! The elements do sound so promising.


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