October 13, 2007
A Great and Terrible Beauty
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Young Adult Fiction
Finished on 10/12/07
Rating: 2/5 (Below Average)
R.I.P. II Challenge #3
Gemma Doyle isn't like other girls. Girls with impeccable manners, who speak when spoken to, who remember their station, and who will lie back and think of England when it's required of them.
No, sixteen-year-old Gemma is an island unto herself, sent to the Spence Academy in London after tragedy strikes her family in India. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma finds a chilly reception. But she's not completely alone... she's been followed by a mysterious young man, who warns her to close her mind against the visions.
For it's at Spence that Gemma's power to attract the supernatural unfolds; there she becomes entangled with the school's most powerful girls and discovers her mother's connection to a shadowy group called the Order. It's there that her destiny waits... if only she can believe in it.
A Great and Terrible Beauty is a curl-up-under-the-covers kind of book... a vast canvas of rustling skirts and dancing shadows and things that go bump in the night. It's a vividly drawn portrait of the Victorian age, when girls were groomed for lives as rich men's wives... and the story of a girl who saw another way.
Sigh. It's happened again. Another hyped-up novel that failed to entertain. Perhaps I'm just not suited for these modern-day Gothic novels. Or, maybe it's the teenage angst that turns me off. Whatever the reason, I'm sorry to say it was quite a struggle to get into the book and I almost quit on several occasions. However, I stuck with it since I'd heard positive remarks from fellow bloggers. Heather, Jenclair and Kailana all loved the novel and wrote glowing reviews, which I encourage you to read if you're the least bit interested in this book.
It's very difficult to write a review for a book I disliked so much. In a nutshell, I didn't care for Gemma's sardonic wit and thought her voice sounded contrived throughout the entire novel. The overuse of metaphors was also irritating. I didn't care for any of the characters and thought the plot far too predictable. The following passage leapt from the page, jarring me from what little interest I had going and made me think, would someone in 1895 truly say this?
Felicity stops. "Oh, honestly, this is the worst attempt at a gothic novel I've ever read. All we're missing are creaking castle floors and a heroine in danger of losing her virtue."
I do think, however, that this might make for an entertaining movie. I found myself picturing Johnny Depp as Kartika and wouldn't mind seeing that come to be. Looks like the rights have been bought, so we may just see this come to theaters near us (or Netflix, in my case) in a few years.
If anyone would like to give this book a try, I'd be more than happy to pass it on. Leave a comment and I'll draw names next weekend.