6 November 2011
Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty
A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray
Series: A Great and Terrible Beauty, book 1 of 3
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Supernatural
Published: December 2003
My rating: Unfinished!
I can't be honest in my judgement about this book, because I don't have all the facts. I gave up. After reading more than 100 pages (which is more than a quarter of the book!) I decided to let the book rest in peace. I still wasn't drawn into the story, still wasn't gripped. Rather than keep hoping the story will improve, I'll read something else.
What stands out about this book when you flip through it, is that it’s written in Present Tense. I myself have only ever gotten as far as writing fan-fiction, but one of the first lessons was NOT to write in Present Tense. It has an odd feel to it. It made me like the book less, instantly.
It reads slow, like a 'quality' movie. Very long introductions. Gemma’s boredom is very feel-able. Okay, her mother is almost killed by a shadow-demon-thingy and then stabs herself with a knife instead, but was it the vision, or real? The action isn’t that well written, blurry descriptions. I didn't understand what the shadow-monster looked like or where it came from.
Also, you’re not really in the middle of things, they’re not embracing you and pulling you in. It's like you're watching from a distance and are unable to loose yourself in the reality of the book, as you are supposed to.
It’s not until page 50 or so Gemma finally reaches Spencer’s and (tiny) things happen. I like that she hates being a lady but all her thoughts and mental comments are a bit overwhelming. Not always as funny or witty as they were probably meant to be. Kind of obnoxious.
Spencer’s setting is eerie enough, it has potential despite not being that original.
I did like that Gemma stands up for ‘poor’ Ann and that way draws the attention of the popular girls. I like all the details about what ladies are supposed to act like (especially towards her brother Tom) and the way society works and looks. Like they’re not supposed to look out the carriage window when they ride through the slums. Literally closing yourself off for misfortune.
The church scene after dark where Gemma has to obtain the wine is creepy. But the ‘mystery’ surrounding the young Indian man is too… hazy. Too childishly simple, so far. Too easy.
From reading the bit I've read so far, clearly this book is meant for a much younger audience, not for teens. 13 Year olds would probably really like the mystery and girls' relationships.
I'm not saying this is a bad book, it's just not for me. It didn't grab me. Young girls might like it though. Perhaps, had I been that age, I would have loved it too. Part of me thinks that would have been the case. Alas, I am not that young anymore.
I'm just glad I didn't buy the whole trilogy in advance and get to spend my money on more interesting books. Or, so I hope.
Have a nice day! :)