Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray : A

Title: A Great and Terrible Beauty
Author: Libba Bray
Genre: Fantasy (YA)
Publication: 2003 by Random House
Pages: 416
Ages: 13+
Grade: A

(From bn.com)
"It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?"

General: This book is sorta a new kind of book for this blog. So far, all the books have been YA realistic fiction. A Great and Terrible Beauty is a fantasy book. A fabulous, “curl-up-under-the-covers kind of book”. I used to be the kind of person who was obsessed with fantasy because of the places they can take you, and the way they have of making you feel like you can just about fly. But I guess my tastes changed and I began to read more of the conventional, realistic fiction books that stayed closer to home.

But talk about a book that can take you places. This book is absolutely unforgettable. While reading it, I visited places I only dreamed of. I met people I never thought I’d get to meet in a novel. I thought about things I’ve never had in my mind before. And I’m NOT being dramatic.

Plot: This is a definitely not a book I have to drone about having started slow. No, the action picked up pretty much right away. And it KEPT GOING. As soon as the initial tragedy occurs with the main character, Gemma’s, mother, the plot hastens along at an astonishing speed. I can hardly even begin to describe the plot. One thing came right after the other. As one mystery began to unfold, a whole new level was introduced; one you could never imagine, and certainly didn’t see coming. For me, just when I thought I finally knew what was going to happen, the plot took another sharp turn into the realm of the unknown.

Unique? Please. Don’t even make me answer that. I opened up this book and thought to myself, “Oh, girl’s mother dies, said girl goes to boarding school, blahblahblah boringboring.” And…now I laugh to think I thought such a thing about this book. ‘Nuff said.

Characters: Amazing characters. That’s all there is to it. Gemma is as real a character as any tangible person in real life. She feels like a living, breathing human. Her friends and those who aren’t so friendly, all of whom go to the same boarding school as she does, are just as real, and perhaps even more entertaining. Gemma’s relationship with the group of the most popular girls in school is a roller coaster. Up and down, up and down. To watch their friendship blossom was…awesome. It was so cute, and joyful and just…aahh.

Really, I had no problems with what Libba Bray did with her characters. There were a ton of surprises she introduced with her characters, and many turned out not to be who we thought they were. But I was totally okay with it; it seemed to roll real well. Overall, the characters were presented very well. Very real, easy to picture in my mind, not the least bit predictable or cliché. Fabulous.

Overall, I loved A Great and Terrible Beauty. The book was mysterious, sad, joyful, dark, suspenseful, and anything else you can think of. Amazingly enough, the novel was shockingly deep. It totally made me think. Each character was going through their own crisis, experiencing very real pain. Some lessons they learned and things they thought and said really provoked some thought on a deeper level. And I truly admire a book and its author when it can make me do that. All in all, the novel kept me absolutely sucked in. I remember tons of times when I had to work with a time limit on my reading and I was beyond frustrated when I had to close the book because I wanted to read just one more chapter to find out what would happen. I just wanted to read and read and read. After this book comes another one, Rebel Angels. I can’t wait to hurry up and get that one so I can find out the rest of the story!


Plot: 20/20
Characters: 18/20
Ending: 18/20
Cover: 18/20
Style: 18/20
Overall: 92/100

Grade: A



Very nice review! I really must pick this book up soon.


Thanks for reading :) It really is a good book. Definitely go ahead and pick it up.


Are you planning on reading the sequels? I think Rebel Angels is my favorite. I think if you like Libba Bray's writing, you might like Going Bovine too. It's a different type of book, bu it's a sad but fun read.


I DEFINITELY plan to read the sequels. I just loved it so much, I can't wait!

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