This is a review of the A Great and Terrible Beauty. It is the first novel in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy by young-adult author, Libba Bray. The novel was published on December 9, 2003 by Delacorte Press, a subsidiary of Random House Publishers. The U.S. hardback and paperback editions have thirty-nine chapter
and 403 pages.
Synopsis: 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 being 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 entangle 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.
This book received a 4/5 stars. It was one of my favorite books this year. The plot developed really nicely and the writing style was witty and sophisticated. Over anything else, however, my favorite aspect of the novel was the characterization. Each character in this novel was well-developed and explored. Libba Bray really has a talent for creating a character and making them come to life. They all had their own tone and mood that really complimented the plot and one another. Plus, the main character Gemma really redefines the ideal of a Victorian woman. She is strong and defiant but at the same time in touch with her feminine side. The reason I only gave the book four stars and not five is because there was a section of the book toward the middle that I thought could have progressed faster. Other than that one section, however, the book was filled with fast-paced action. I found myself deeply entranced by it. It was the kind of book that you just cannot put down. Each time I came to the end of a chapter, I would say to myself just one more and than I’ll stop. But I could not stop! I definitely recommend this book. Just know that you are not going to be able to put it down so make sure you have a period of time that you can devote to it.
Thanks for reading! Hope to write again soon with another review. At them moment, I am reading the second book in the trilogy Rebel Angels. I hope to have a review of that up as soon as I finish reading it.
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