Mar 08, 11
Read in February, 2011
This is not a perfect novel. It could do with a bit more editing. There were quite a few chapters and subplots that I felt were excessive and unnecessary to the story.
This is an example of the power of great characters. If characters are as likeable, funny, well-developed, well-written and admirable as Libba Bray's in the Gemma Doyle series, its easy to forgive technical errors.
Thank God for Gemma. This is a young female protagonist worth looking up to. She's relatable, not just because she's the not as pretty as Pippa or as wealthy as Felicity or as clever as Ann or as popular (in a pompous way) as Cecily, but because she's a girl with good intentions who tries to do well in life but makes mistakes along the way. Gemma also doesn't start out as a heroine, she has to work her way there. She doesn't have that impeccable moral compass. Throughout her journey she has to compromise between the responsibility she owes to her mother and the Realms and her own selfish needs. What I loved about her so much, especially when considering the other young female characters encountered in the YA genre, is that when it comes down to the end, when it really matters, Gemma understands that there are things going on in the world that are bigger (and more important) than her. She doesn't avoid duty. She doesn't get caught up in Kartik or wanting to 'just be normal'.
Gemma voices her fear and doubt like anyone else in her situation would. She expresses her anger and the untimely unfairness of it all: why does it have to be her? And at one point she even almost abandons her goal. But she pulls through. The difference I noticed between Gemma and other female characters was how brave and un-annoying she was. She complained but she didn't whine. She has a romance with Kartik but she doesn't let it turn her into a desperate creeping clinger. This isn't a book about getting a boyfriend, its about a young girl becoming a woman and making her way in the world. There aren't enough of these.
The five stars is not for how technically impressive this book was. As mentioned, its a little too long and so sometimes digressed from the exciting main plot. The five stars is for the emotional impact it had on me. This was such a surprise. I don't think I was really expecting anything great but when a work is good, it doesn't matter what your expectations are (or lack thereof).
Great work is great work.
And this was wonderful.