Series: Gemma Doyle #1
Age Genre: Young Adult
Narrative: First Person
Source: Own Paperback
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 1st 2006
It's 1895 and, after the death of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped 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 finds her reception a chilly one. She's not completely alone, though... she's being followed by a mysterious young man, sent to warn her to close her minds against the visions.
It's at Spence that Gemma's power to attract the supernatural unfolds, as she becomes entangled with the school's most powerful girls and discovers her mother's connection to a shadow, timeless group called The Order. Her destiny awaits... if only Gemma can believe in it.
So... how do I start this?
After reading Libba Bray's The Diviners and embarking on a full on crush (and
really not so secretly coveting her writing skills) I vowed to read anything the woman has ever written, even if it's the damned phone book! So, naturally, I picked up A Great and Terrible Beauty. Mostly because of its beautiful name and its beautiful cover. I admit I've never even read the summary. I mean, why should I? It's Libba Bray!
Well, Libba Bray or not, this book was... err, how to put it? meh. I was mostly... disappointed.
The writing was still immensely beautiful. Hauntingly beautiful, really. But everything else... that's where it fell short.
First and foremost - I couldn't connect to any of the characters. Not to Gemma, our MC, and not to any of her "friends". Half the time, they didn't feel quite real to me, and the other half I was kind of annoyed with them and how they were acting. Maybe the goal was to make them feel other than human, but I struggled with it.
I'm not entirely sure I can call them "friends", either. It didn't feel like friendship, at any rate. It felt like... well, the closest I can describe is using each other. There was no real give and take between them, just take take take. If I had these kind of "Friends" I wouldn't survive in this world.
And if that's not bad enough - there's the "plot". It didn't grab me. It wasn't exciting. It was barely even there. I kept waiting for something to happen. For things to get interesting. I had to wait a long time.
And the worst thing about this whole book was probably the romance, because Gemma and what's-his-name barely know each other. They speak maybe three times, and two out of those are not very pleasant. And yet Gemma is already thinking things about him. From sexual to emotional. It's all very insta love, a major no-no for me.
I wonder if I had read this book before the Diviners would I feel similarly. I may have rated it higher, even though I feel this rating is very merciful of me. And mostly it's because the writing is painfully gorgeous.
I don't know if I'll ever continue with this series. Probably not, as it did not get me interested enough. Plus, Megs might have accidentally spoiled some aspects of the finale that make me even less enthusiastic to continue...