Wild Things: YA Grown-Up discussion

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1)
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Book Club Discussions > A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

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Lydia (loverofinformation) | 596 comments I'm really interested in what others have to say about this. I did not particularly enjoy it, but my granddaughters loved it.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I didn't love this book, but I enjoyed it enough to want to find out what happens next. I just picked up Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing from the library and will be starting those shortly.


Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ รђ๏รђคภคђ  (shoey924) | 17 comments I really liked these books! I had a hard time putting them down and an even harder time getting them out of my head! I was slightly less enchanted with TSFT, mostly because it felt like it dragged on a bit and the end was, well, I cried a lot!!



message 4: by Kandice (last edited Sep 01, 2009 03:13PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kandice I didn't dislike the book, but BunWat put into words exactly what I felt. I hadn't quite been able to put my finger on what it was.


message 5: by Mia (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mia I finished this book a couple weeks ago and I loved it. I have the 2nd one sitting at home (I'm not letting myself read it until I've finished the three other books I'm reading). So far the setting and the amazing characters are driving the story for me. The first book was a great set-up and I'm hoping the plot picks up, but even if it doesn't the characters seem interesting enough to hold my interest.

I'm a bit worried about the end of the third book people keep saying they cried and I'm trying to come up with a plausible happy ending, but even if they win it's still 1895 and they're still girls with little to no ability to make their own life choices. At this point the Victorian setting is the real antagonist and I don't see a way around it.

I guess I'll find out.


Koori no hi I agree with you (Whatever your name is I can't read it) the first one was the best of all of them though I think. The second one just seemed out of place and the last kind of drug by. I almost stopped reading TSFT because Gemma was being so stupid and annoying.


Kandice DragonEyedOnePieceFan, her name is Shoshannah, and there's a very pretty butterfly before her name.


Bhumi | 274 comments I finished this book a while ago and I liked it too, though I can't say that it was my favorite of the trilogy.


message 9: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy (signgirlamy) | 2 comments I just read the first one recently and was less impressed than I had hoped. I will probably continue with the rest of the series at some point because I am interested in a few of the characters and would like to see how things go.


message 10: by Brenda (new)

Brenda (librarymom23) I am planning to go and purchase this book tomorrow.


message 11: by Choco (new) - rated it 1 star

Choco I wanted to like this book so badly, but unlike some people here I did not like the characters (I found them all immature and annoying). I sort of understood why they had to be that way from the author's point of view in the end, but still.. I found the plot slightly more interesting than the characters, but the story moved too slowly for me to truly enjoy the book. I will still read the next two books just to see what happens next.


message 12: by Pam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pam (pammylee76) I read this book a couple of months ago. Once I got into the story, I really liked it. I'm planning on reading the rest of the series in the near future.


Lydia (loverofinformation) | 596 comments shoko wrote: "I wanted to like this book so badly, but unlike some people here I did not like the characters (I found them all immature and annoying). I sort of understood why they had to be that way from the au..."

Shoko, I felt the same way. I'm really interested as to why you might have liked the characters.


message 14: by Sara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sara (sarakd) BunWat wrote: "I liked the first two thirds of this book and then I just started to lose interest. I felt like the characters and setting were actually more interesting than the plot."

This is exactly how I felt as well. I appreciated the way Libba Bray mixed pretty typical teenage girl interactions (typical of today, I mean) and the historical setting of the novel. The further it strayed from that, the less invested I was.

Also, I wasn't exactly sure how I felt about the plot structure--on the one hand, Bray does a great job of setting up a couple small conflicts per chapter that are resolved within one chapter, so at any one moment there was a lot happening on the page. But on the other hand, I felt like the overall plot arch suffered a bit for it, so when the climax came, it just didn't feel enough climactic for me.




Koori no hi like I said they kinda go downhill from the first one. I'm sorry to say shoko, but I think Gemma gets more annoying in the third book. I almost stopped reading that one because of it. The ending was sad, but it was the only thing worth reading really in TSFT. AGATB was most deffinately the best of the three.


message 16: by Tiffany (new) - added it

Tiffany (tichwi) I really loved the books. I'm partway through the third one right now. I didn't find the characters any more annoying that any other teenager I know, they have their moments, but I generally loved them. I felt drawn into their world, and I really cared what happens to them.

I downloaded the books from my library, and I wonder if the audio vs. the paper version makes a difference in enjoyment. Perhaps I was more easily able to gloss over long passages because I was just listening. The narrator was fantastic and had voices for the characters and great drama.


message 17: by Choco (new) - rated it 1 star

Choco Lydia wrote: "I'm really interested as to why you might have liked the characters. "

I understood that one of the Bray's points was that everyone has both light and darkness in him/her (if you ask me all the four main characters had more darkness, as in being too self-absorbed and self-centered, than any of my friends back in high school),
and I might have liked the characters better if they showed more growth in their personalities and their behaviours (or does that happen in later books?).


message 18: by Choco (new) - rated it 1 star

Choco DragonEyedOnePieceFan wrote: "I'm sorry to say shoko, but I think Gemma gets more annoying in the third book."

NO!! I can't stand it! The two books have to go further down on my TBR list..


Mary  (Biblophile) I've read the first two books in the series and loved them. I felt the portrayals of the teens was pretty true to form. Not everyone grows by leaps and bounds. Nice escapist piece of literature.


message 20: by Andrea (last edited Sep 04, 2009 09:50PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Andrea Tiffany wrote: "I downloaded the books from my library, and I wonder if the audio vs. the paper version makes a difference in enjoyment. Perhaps I was more easily able to gloss over long passages because I was just listening. The narrator was fantastic and had voices for the characters and great drama."

I read the first two and then listened to TSFT. It was the first book I listened to on tape and I loved it. I didn't find any difference in reading than listening with these novels. (though generally, I don't like to read books on tape.)




Koori no hi Andrea, I didn't say that, Tiffany did. I don't listen to audio books. And I don't think my library has downloadable books anyway.
Don't anyone get me wrong, I enjoyed the first two books, I just don't think the last one lived up to the other two. I don't actually remember what rating I gave them, but I think they all got three stars.


Andrea Haha! Oops, I should have caught that one! Sorry DragonEyedOnePieceFAn! I'll fix it. And I agree, the last one needed more help than it got.


Ashley (affie) | 468 comments I enjoyed this series quite a bit. I will admit, I picked them up entirely because I thought the cover art was absolutely fantastic.
One thing I noticed about these books- and it might come out confusing- I liked them because I disliked the main characters so much to begin with. To expound on that, at the beginning of the series, all of the characters were incredibly selfish and self serving. The embodied the typical teenage snob, being cruel simply because they could. I liked all three books, but I enjoyed them progressivly more as the series went on, because the characters developed. Although they all still made some stupid choices, and bad decisions, all of them grew as people and learned from their pasts. I love books that have strong character development, and I remember feeling that these books had a lot of that.


Misty | 1505 comments I really wanted to like this, but I couldn't get into Bray's writing at all. I had no intention of reading the rest of the series, but I ended up giving them a try for the 1st challenge. I did think they improved a bit, but they're still not something I would recommend, and I don't think I would read anything else by Bray. I had to force myself to finish them, slogging through to get to the few good parts that I actually liked.


JG (Introverted Reader) I'm with (almost) everyone else on this one--this was just okay. I have the next one on my tbr, but I'm not rushing to pick it up. There wasn't anything particularly special about the characters, for me anyway. And the plot wasn't so original that it made up for the okay characters. There's potential there, but the snobby girls growing up thing just feels like it's already been done, and done better. Don't ask me for examples, because I can't think of any right now. All I can say is that I just read it feeling like all this has been done before.


Shanna Gonzales  (sleepyshanna) | 3 comments I love this book. It is one of my favorite series. I don't think there was anything negative that I found about the book. Well, except that the series ended. I highly recommend it. In fact, I've recommended it to numberous people who have enjoyed it.


Angelena (drimagirl12) I read this series a while ago. I didn't hate it although I didn't absolutely love it either. As others have said before me, the characters were a bit annoying. And sadly Gemma gets a bit dense in the last book. But all in all it was adequate.


Misty | 1505 comments Angelena wrote: "And sadly Gemma gets a bit dense in the last book. But all in all it was adequate."


Oh my god, yes! It was driving me nuts! How much can you look the other way and go in circles? If she were in a horror movie, she'd be the one you yell at not to do what they're about to do.


Angelena (drimagirl12) Misty wrote: "Angelena wrote: "And sadly Gemma gets a bit dense in the last book. But all in all it was adequate."


Oh my god, yes! It was driving me nuts! How much can you look the other way and go in circle..."


That's exactly how I felt about it.




Misty | 1505 comments BunWat wrote: "I think the author got stuck, because she set up this situation where her characters were all Victorian teen girls, who really, have a lot pf restrictions on how they are allowed to behave and not ..."

And in one case, decide to completely run away from Victorian England and escape to much more lax France. That was a disappointing aspect for me, too, because Gemma does have these internal monologues that show she's unhappy with the status quo, but it never goes further.


Misty | 1505 comments Or that Bray did through her.


Koori no hi That is exactly the problem with this story bunwat! I could have liked them so much better if they had just confronted the problem instead of waiting for it to pass by overhead and then sneaking around underneath it.


message 33: by Katharine (last edited Sep 09, 2009 08:43AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Katharine (alienateshealershaker) | 12 comments So, I just finished this book. I thought it was interesting and I did like the book, although it will probably never be a favorite or one I would recommend. I agree with BunWat that the author got stuck. I also feel that she hinted at some things a little too much, so much so that some of the "mysteries" that I am sure will be revealed in the final books are not really going to be surprising. I would sort of like to be surprised at certain identities and such.

But, I will pick up the next two because I feel like I need closure with this series.


Koori no hi i wouldn't have read them at all if it weren't for the cover art. It looked so cool that I picked up AGATB for the first time because of it.


Ashley (affie) | 468 comments DragonEyedOnePieceFan wrote: "i wouldn't have read them at all if it weren't for the cover art. It looked so cool that I picked up AGATB for the first time because of it."

I totally agree. The cover art is fantastic and wonderfully eye-catching.


Sarah (mascarabearah) So I just finished this book early today and Im really just that it was "ok". Part of what I think the problem was that I had it as a audiobook.
I liked Ann best. I dont regret listening to it, but I dont think Ill read the rest of the series.


Koori no hi ann was my favorite too. It just always seemed to me that falicity would turn her back on them and be the mean girl like in the beginning, and pippa was kinda iffy throughout the whole first book.


Ashley (affie) | 468 comments Beth, I personally didn't think she turned into the stupid horror movie character. In my opinion, she gets better in the second book, and then in the third book she goes a little power hungry... Which kind of makes her go backward instead of forward characterwise, but I did feel she had redeemed herself by the end of the book.
It's not the world's greatest writing, but I thought it did it's job which was to entertain.


Misty | 1505 comments I agree Gemma and things in general got better in the second book, but she is just clueless in the third, which is a good couple hundred pages longer than it needs to be, in my opinion.
In fact, I think the whole series trimmed down (a lot) would have made a more powerful single book, or maybe two books. It really needed condensing.


Carrie (missfryer) My favorite part of Gemma is her personality and her tenacity. You see more of her rebellious nature in later books.


Zainab | 164 comments I just finished it, and i didn't really like it...I thought some things took forever to happen, while others happened much to quickly...


Jackie (thenightowl) Misty wrote: "I agree Gemma and things in general got better in the second book, but she is just clueless in the third, which is a good couple hundred pages longer than it needs to be, in my opinion.
In fact, I ..."


I completely agree Misty. I think some serious editing was needed especially for the third book. I felt as if Bray tried to address too many issues by writing this series.

I did enjoy the series but at times it was just too overdramatic for me. By the middle of the third book I was reading just to find out what the hoopla was about the ending. On the plus side I think the covers are gorgeous. Bray had me sold on the covers alone. lol.


Koori no hi so we all seem to agree, None of us liked this book all that much right?


Ashley (affie) | 468 comments I think it seems to be split. I know there are people who have posted that they did like it.


Shanna Gonzales  (sleepyshanna) | 3 comments I read this book when it first came out and I love it. I didn't go into it expecting anything or over analizing it. I went into just to enjoy the the book. I escaped with the charcters and lived in their world for a while and enjoyed myself. There were moments where all the charcters annoyed me. Everyone seems to think that Gemma is this dumb girl that didn't know anything and didn't grow as a person or that real girls don't act that way. I think Gemma did grow as a person, just because she didn't grow into the person you thought she should, doesn't mean its a bad book. I'm not going to bash a book because its not the way I wanted it to be. I don't know what is going on in the writers head, her adventure in the book could be different then mine. And I think its a sad day when readers only comment on the bad they see and not the good.


Midnight (dreamofdreams) | 15 comments I have read all three of the books in this series, and I only started it because one of my students told me it was a wonderful series. The first book took me forever to get interested in. The plot dragged and all I could think was "Is anything ever going to happen to energize this story?" It finally did about one-third of the way in and then I enjoyed the rest of the book. The second book, "Rebel Angels" hooked me in almost from the first, and I really enjoyed it so I was really looking forward to the final book in the story, "The Sweet Far Thing". What a disappointment. Now, I'm not one of those readers who reads the end first, but with this book, I wish I had. The real story does not even occur until the last, maybe, 100 pages - give or take a few pages. It took forever to get to the real meat of this story, the rest felt like a bad soap opera, and I was tempted to give up numerous times, and once I reached the end of the book, I wished I had. I never found anything 'sweet' about this story, and it was a 'far' cry from what I had expected or even hoped for after reading the second book.


Misty | 1505 comments Shanna wrote: "I'm not going to bash a book because its not the way I wanted it to be. I don't know what is going on in the writers head, her adventure in the book could be different then mine. And I think its a sad day when readers only comment on the bad they see and not the good."

Personally, I think everyone is entitled to their opinions, and not everyone is going to agree. That's fine and it's the way it should be. The point of a discussion isn't to endlessly laud the book; nor is it to completely tear it down. I think we have had a fair amount of both sides -- we've had plenty of people rave about the series, and most were very excited when this was picked. If the discussion has leaned a little more toward the negative side, it just shows that many of us agree there are some flaws with the writing. There's nothing wrong with wanting to express that. When people say they feel Gemma didn't grow, I don't think they mean they were upset because they didn't get their way. I think they, like me, felt Bray's writing was a bit shallow, and everyone, Gemma included, lacked development. If you didn't see this or were able to set it aside, good for you.
None of us has ever said don't read this book, don't like this book. We've merely expressed our take -- and our dissatisfaction -- on the story and the writing. That we are so dissatisfied just shows that we wanted more and saw the potential for it, and were left unfulfilled.



Shauna | 15 comments I enjoyed Emma. She didn't seem to be your typical teenager, yet she was still swayed by peer pressure to do things she wouldn't of done on her own. I think I will read the others in the series even thought many are not thrilled with them.


Angela Sunshine (angelasunshine)
Well said Misty! That's exactly how I ended the book. I just felt like I was looking for 50 more pages to pull it all together for me...


Misty | 1505 comments There were a lot of things that I felt were glossed over or not capitalized on, exactly like that. That's what bothered me. I saw potential in things, only to be disappointed repeatedly as the series went on.


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