Monday, November 26, 2012

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle #1) by Libba Bray

3 stars
Genres: Young Adult, Magic, Romance, FantasyFormat: Paperback
416 pages
Published by SIMON & SCHUSTER CHI (first published December 9th 2003)
Published in May 2nd 2006
ISBN: 0689875355
ISBN13: 9780689875359
Where to Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
View on Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads:
A British girl uncovers the mystery of her mother's death -- and discovers powers she never knew she possessed -- in this engrossing, imaginative Victorian-era novel by Libba Bray.

Two months after her mother's sudden and puzzling suicide, Gemma Doyle travels from India, where she was raised, to England for her new life at an all-girls preparatory school. At Spence Academy, Gemma feels dispirited by the stringent etiquette and her classmates' cruel pecking order, but she finds herself befriended by a group of girls with aspirations of being more than "proper ladies." Aside from school troubles, Gemma is also preoccupied with nightmarish visions, and following her discovery of a long-lost diary that describes "the Order," she learns that she has supernatural abilities that link her to the spirit world, her mother, and an evil force that wants to usurp Gemma's powers. And it's almost too late before Gemma realizes that she holds the key to her own and her friends' destinies.

My Review:
I was first intrigued by the cover of the book and then when I started reading it the plot is what really kept me going.  I made it through the book, however, I thought it was lacking in parts and the story kind of drug on, especially in the first part. 

The characters were not overly interesting and I disliked most of them.  Pippa and Ann complained a great deal making them just annoying and hard to deal with; I would not want to be their friends.  Gemma was the most genuine out of all of them.

Overall it was not a bad story and did do a lot of credit to the strengths and independence of women.
What is it about writing an author bio that gives me that deer-in-headlights feeling? It's not exactly like I'm going to say "I was born in Alabama..." and somebody's going to jump up and snarl, "Oh yeah? Prove it!" At least I hope not.

I think what gets me feeling itchy is all that emphasis on the facts of a life, while all the juicy, relevant, human oddity stuff gets left on the cutting room floor. I could tell you the facts-I lived in Texas for most of my life; I live in New York City with my husband and five-year-old son now; I have freckles and a lopsided smile; I'm allergic to penicillin.

But that doesn't really give you much insight into me. That doesn't tell you that I stuck a bead up my nose while watching TV when I was four and thought I'd have to go to the ER and have it cut out. Or that I once sang a punk version of "Que Sera Sera" onstage in New York City. Or that I made everyone call me "Bert" in ninth grade for no reason that I can think of. See what I mean?


  1. I can agree with your complaints about Pippa and Ann but this is definitely one of my favorite series of all time. Are you going to read the rest in the series?

    Alise @ Readers In Wonderland

  2. I've been going back and forth on whether to pick this up from the library. Great review!