Thursday, September 15, 2011

Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Released: December 9th, 2003
Published by: Simon & Schuster Children’s Books
Series: Gemma Doyle Trilogy, One
Star Rating: 3 out of 5
Source: Amazon
Page Amount: 403
School Rating: C+ (67%)
Age Group: Young Adult Fiction


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.

First Line

"Please tell me that is not going to be a part of my birthday dinner tonight"- Gemma, pg 1


I had really high expectations going into this book. I have heard amazing things about it, and not so amazing things about it. But, as per usual, I cancelled out the bad reviews and only focused on the raving ones. I wish I were one of those people who could not stop raving over this book.

I found a lot of the characters really annoying in this novel. I really liked Gemma, which the story was told in her point of view. I disliked a lot of the friends she met at Spence, such as Felicity and Ann. I found a lot of them annoying and nothing that I wanted to read about.

Overall, Libba’s writing was amazing. It really was. But… when she went into detail about things (describing what things looked like, ect.) I couldn’t get a picture in my mind. I couldn’t see what she was trying to place in my brain, most of the time.

I loved the whole idea of Spence Academy. If I could time travel back to this time and attend Spence, I probably would. I’ve always wanted to attend an academy… but unfortunately I am stuck in a public school.

Overall, I didn’t really enjoy A Great and Terrible Beauty. I guess it just wasn’t for me, but maybe you will enjoy it. I do not think I will be going on with the rest of the series.

Cover Comments

This cover is gorgeous! So Victorian looking… I love it!



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