Sunday, April 10, 2011

Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty


Title: A Great and Terrible Beauty

Author: Libba Bray

Release Date: December 9, 2003

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

Pages: 403

Finished Reading: August 6, 2010

Source: I received this book from Random Buzzers.

Synopsis (via Goodreads): A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy--jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.

In a Sentence: After Gemma’s mother is murdered, she is sent to a boarding school where she learns the truth about the visions that she has been having as well as her true destiny.

Overall Rating: 3

Plot Rating: 3

Character Rating: 3

Writing Rating: 3

Review: I liked the overall story, but the characters were a bit underdeveloped. I found a number of the sections extremely slow and felt that they should have been edited to remove a number of the descriptions. However, I felt the opposite about the ending, which felt extremely rushed. I understand that this book is part of a series, but I think that the author could have cut out big sections of the descriptions and focused more on character development so that the reader could better understood the secondary characters and how they would affect the story as it runs it course.

Cover: I don’t understand what the cover has to do with the storyline.

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