Sunday, April 3, 2016

Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty

A Great and Terrible Beauty

by Libba Bray
Book 1 of the Gemma Doyle trilogy

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  2.5 Stars

*Side note on 4/3/2016:  The Gemma Doyle trilogy was one of first few books I read back when I was first reviewing books for fun at Goodreads.  It was one of first few books I had the most conflict with.  And I later learned that Libba Bray and I have a stubborn, one-sided, love-hate relationship concerning her books as I can't seem to be able to get into them from page one; however, I continue to stubbornly plow forward as if I will INDEED be able to fall in love with her book at some point in time during my reading of it.  

In fact, between A Great and Terrible Beauty and The Diviners, I spent a little over a year trying to get past the first few chapters of both books before the progress seemed to start rolling.  The Diviners is a book I never finished reading and is now eternally on a "maybe" TBR list.  I just got to a point where, if I have to put the book down more than once, then it's probably a good indication that I'm not really going to read it and enjoy it; and even if I DO enjoy the latter half of the book, the rating will probably still be a mediocre to low one because of how long it took for me to get into said book.

Anyway, moving right along now.

The following review is slightly edited, although the essence of the opinions are still intact.  I just happened to read through it and find a few typos, errors and strangely written sentences that made me produce a frowny face.  At the same time, I figured it best to keep my 2012 opinions untouched.

Thanks for stopping by.  And enjoy!

My Review:
The beginning of this book didn't hook me in as I had been expecting from all the praises the book was getting from friends around me. But then again, after a run of bad books, I should have known better. Nonetheless, the further I got into the story, the more interested I became with it, which is a plus in number of stars, though the unfortunate downfall was that it starts off rather slowly.

I don't like including summaries in my reviews, so I won't mention anything outside of some character information. The first impression I had gotten about this book was that I didn't particularly find any of the characters likable. They had their sardonic charms, but I couldn't help but to wonder if Gemma Doyle was a naturally dour person since she didn't seem to be able to find ANYTHING she liked at all throughout the first half of the book. She didn't get along with the girls who are all conniving, manipulative and straight out mean (which I'm assuming is what "Victorian" age people are supposed to act like? I don't know, I don't read many books in this era of history.).

As annoying as the characters were, that's not what kept me from getting into the book in the first place--the story just didn't seem to be going anywhere. We spent a whole deal of filler time getting Gemma from India to London and finally to a more better understanding of what's going on in the magical world (for me, at least). And when the girls form their makeshift Order got together and begin to bond, THAT's when I actually started to enjoy the story a bit more. And from then on, it just started getting more intriguing.

So as far as the series goes, I'm interested in seeing what else will happen in the last two books of this series. Even though the girls are harsh with words, I can't help but to think that this is what makes strong bonds and friendships anyway, so I actually love how the girls interact with each other (Gemma, Ann, Felicity and Pippa), though there are some points where they DO have their annoying traits resurface, such as Ann's deep desire to be accepted as someone she isn't (a privileged girl from a well-to-to family) at the expense of Gemma's irritation. Case in point: when Ann tried to be a different person in front of Gemma's brother, not bothering to be a supportive friend when Gemma had her fight with her brother.

But those character flaws are what makes these girls a little more likable than if we were dealing with four Mary Sues in a row. So I actually kind of liked them at their worst.

Anyway, as slow a start as this book had been, I really enjoyed it overall and will move onto the next book. For one, the reason I kept going in the first place was because the author DOES show a good sense of writing style that is descriptive, witty, and smooth. In particular, the organ grinder's monkey just really stood out to me no matter how insignificant the item seemed at the beginning of the book. It's the little things I notice sometimes that makes or breaks a book for me, I guess.

This review was originally posted at Goodreads in March 2012.

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