Book Review| A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray


“How I’d love to get away from here and be someone else for a while in a place where no one knows or expects certain things from me.”
Libba Bray, A Great and Terrible Beauty

First and foremost: I am so sorry for my lack of posts! Life caught up to me, and this is the first time I’ve been able to really sit and collect my thoughts well enough to write a review. So, again, I’m so sorry that this blog has been lacking in, well, pretty much everything.

Now, on to the review! I’ve recently found out about the website PaperBackSwap, where you swap your books for “credits”, which you can use to order books from other members. The first 10 books you post give you one credit, and every book mailed (and received) by another person gets you one credit. It’s saved me a ridiculous amount of money and I highly recommend it to everyone who likes to read. I had two or three credits sitting in my account, and was scouring my Goodreads account for books in my To-Read list, when I stumbled across A Great and Terrible Beauty. I’d seen this book in Barnes and Noble and the library countless times, but never picked it up. It just seemed like it was going to be some awful teeny-bopper romance the likes of John Green, so I never bought it. Seeing as I had credits to spare, I decided to throw caution to the wind and order it. Thank goodness I did! This was one of the first books I couldn’t put down after a two week book slump. First, I’ll post the synopsis from Goodreads, and then I’ll post what I liked and disliked about this book.

Synopsis from Goodreads
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.

What I Liked
• I really thought this book was going to be about a girl who finds love in another paranormal teen, set in a Victorian boarding school. I was so so so happy when I realized this story was going to focus on the three girls’ friendship and the ridiculous societal issues they had to deal with at that time. This was a YA book that is so different from a lot of YA novels nowadays. Nothing ruins a good story more than a bad romance.
• I also really enjoyed how different all the girls were. Each one had their own set of flaws, the few things they liked or were talented at that set them apart. It delved into the society of young girls everywhere; if you aren’t popular, you want to be. There wasn’t much sugar coating in the ways of young girls and cliques.
• Some of the twists in the storyline were done so well! I won’t say anything to keep from spoiling the plot, but they really surprised me. Yay for surprises!

I recently received Rebel Angels, book 2 in the Gemma Doyle series, and I am so excited to see where the story goes.


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