Monday, April 22, 2013

A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray

Title: A Great and Terrible Beauty
Author: Libba Bray
Paperback: 403 pages
Publisher: Random House
Published date: 2003
FTC: Bought at library book sale

A short while back I found the first two books in Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series.  I've always loved the covers and have heard pretty good things about the series.  I believe it was one of the first huge modern YA series to come out. I mean it predates the Twilight series. Yeah. Old school :)

Eh.  That's kind of my thoughts.  It's not bad writing but the story line just didn't grab me.  It felt like a darker twist to A Little Princess story which I actually like but the magic/darker part didn't really make a whole lot of sense to me.

Back of the book:

Gemma Doyle isn't like other girls. Girls with impeccable manners, who speak when spoken to, who remember their station, and who will lie back and think of England when it's required of them.

No, sixteen-year-old Gemma is an island unto herself, sent to the Spence Academy in London after tragedy strikes her family in India. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma finds a chilly reception. But she's not completely alone...she's been followed by a mysterious young man, who warns her to close her mind against the visions.

For it's at Spence that Gemma's power to attract the supernatural unfolds; there she becomes entangled with the school's most powerful girls and discovers her mother's connection to a shadowy group called the Order. It's there that her destiny waits...if only she can believe in it.

My thoughts:

I really wanted to like this one because I love the Victorian era and think that a YA series set during that period is an awesome idea.  But right from the start I was let down. Gemma is living in India with her mom and dad and is being the biggest snot to her mother.  Then there's a terrible tragedy and she's sent to school in England.  She's not an orphan but her father pretty much loses it and her brother is pretty distant.

The whole "magic or supernatural" element of the story is pretty weird and I wasn't really sure of the point. Perhaps it's because it's book one in the series but it's laid out so that I'm left not really caring why she has these abilities or what's the point.  I also think the guy element to the story a bit ridiculous. So a handsome boy her age follows her from India to England and disguises himself by joining a local gypsy clan.  Ok.  He keeps warning her to not use her supernatural abilities and she always ignores them. Really?  If it was that important would the group he belongs to really send a boy and his threats become kind of silly as they are ineffectual and completely ignored.  Not sure the point of his character in the story other than to act as some romantic ideal for Gemma.

Anyway, to wrap it up, I'm donating these books to the library again and I don't intend on reading the rest of the series.  Are they horrible?  No but some YA books are awesome as an adult and some YA books I remember that I am NOT the targeted demographic.


  1. That's unfortunate. Life is too short to read books we don't care for.

  2. Sorry to hear this series didn't work out for ya. I've had this book on my stacks for YEARS. It's kind of sad!