Book Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

a-great-and-terrible-beautyIt’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?

I love Libba Bray. She’s one of my favorite YA authors. I read the Gemma Doyle trilogy years ago, and while I remembered the premise, I didn’t really remember everything about it so I was really glad to be able to read it again and write a review this time!

What I love about Gemma is that we can see her internal struggle with wanting to fit in but also trying to still be herself. Especially, with her newfound, and as yet mysterious, power, all she wants is to be normal. But many times wanting to be normal doesn’t stop her from wanting to be different from the other girls at Spence Academy.

I think Bray does a great job of creating these very similar but also very different female characters, and making their friendship the focus of everything. With all that Gemma goes through, in only the first book, she learns more and more to rely on her friends, and for me that’s one of the most important things to read about in literature, especially literature aimed and young girls.

My favorite part of the story is the magic part. I’ve always been a sucker for magic and mystery and this definitely has both. The magic is unique to this story, and I’d never read any type of interpretation like this until this story, which makes Bray’s world-building that much more amazing.It definitely has enough mystery to keep you interested but not too much to leave wondering. I’d give the first in the trilogy 4.5 bards.

four.fivebards

Comments

  1. This is one of those books that I know I need to read, but have never gotten around too. I’ve always heard great things about it, though.

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