Saturday, 21 November 2009

Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
US Pub. Date: 9 December 2003 (Hardback)
UK Pub. Date: 2 May 2006 (Paperback)
416 pages (US version)
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Historical

This is the first in a series of three books about Gemma Doyle, a wealthy late-Victorian teenager who is sent to a finishing school outside London after some mysterious events lead to the death of her mother in India. The first book is kind of a lead-in to the next two books, and introduces the main characters that appear throughout the series. 

 Gemma is an outcast at first, but comes to make some friends throughout this book. She also discovers that there are supernatural things happening to her and in the surrounding areas. So, the series covers her realization of herself as a person and as something more. She really kind of grows up over the course of the trilogy. I thought this book was a little more superficial than the next two in the series, but really, once you keep reading, it becomes apparent why that is. Overall, this was a great book. The characters are strong-minded, for the most-part. I also liked that the social rules of the time were threaded throughout the books. The fight against evil was superimposed upon the fight of the social hierarchy, and it blended well.

I wouldn't say this is a self-contained book, and the action picks up in the second(1) and third(2) books. The only real issue I had with this series is that it's told in first person present tense, which was something I hadn't encountered before(3). After about 100 pages, it no longer bothered me, as I was completely wrapped up in the characters and the story. This series is as much character-based as it is action-based, giving a good mix of the two.

  1. * Rebel Angels (US Pub. Date: 23 August 2005 [Hardcover]; UK Pub. Date: 2 July 2007 [Paperback]; 560 Pages [US Edition])
  2. **The Sweet Far Thing (US Pub. Date: 28 April 2009 [Paperback]; UK Pub. Date: 5 May 2009 [Paperback]; 848 Pages [US Edition])
  3. ***Since reading this series and joining a writers' forum, I've read many more stories written in first person present, and it seems that this is becoming more pervasive in YA literature.