Maura's Reviews > A Great and Terrible Beauty

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
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Feb 23, 08

bookshelves: kids-books, fiction, fantasy-or-sci-fi

This is a young adult book, so I tried really hard to take that into consideration when judging it, but there are so many other, well-done kid/teen books out there that I feel OK about occasionally trashing one.

It basically follows the same overdone storyline we've all seen way too many times: boarding school kids whose parents don't want them discover they have magical powers, and they go through the whole 'magic for good versus magic for evil' struggle. This one didn't work because there was nothing new or imaginative about the story, and the whole book just felt... well, "flat" is the first word that comes to mind. The story was frustratingly predictable, the characters one-dimensional, and the writing drab.

I appreciate that the author was trying to encourage a bit of feminist thinking by showing how repressive the Victorian era was for young women, but I think the best way she could have had a positive influence on young readers would be by having a strong protagonist. Instead, the main character is just as annoyingly angsty and self-conscious as all the other angsty teenagers in the book.
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Leanne The first time I read the book Gemma's characterization was a problem for me. I almost stopped reading it. I'm glad I didn't.

Having finished the series and re-read the first book, I think I was being a bit narrow-minded then. On a second reading, Gemma is an extremely realistic teenager at the beginning of the series. I work with girls her age and - let me tell you - they are whiny, self-centered, and angst-y at times. I think Gemma's character grows stronger throughout the novel and especially throughout the series. She may take small steps when getting there, but these "small steps" are an extremely realistic and feasible part of growing up.


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