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A Great and Terrible Beauty
by Libba Bray
403 pages (trade paperback)
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/YA/Historical

It took me the longest time to finish reading this, because the story had two opposite effects on me: I was compelled to turn pages as I read, but once I closed the book and put it down I had absolutely no inclination to go back. I predicted or suspected all of the plot twists, and the climax was cheesily sentimental.

Circe as a villain is too clear-cut evil; even Sarah, the "good" girl fallen prey to temptation, is redeemed because she was possessed and so isn't really herself. The girls are realistic but tiring to read because they don't change until near the end when it is too late. Beginning was slow to transcend banality; while the school story aspect was interesting, I didn't care much for the magic. This is a classic temptation story, modeled in many ways after Tennyson's famed "The Lady of Shalott" (and kudos to Bray for the lit reference). Unfortunately, classic here turned into cliche.


Certainly Bray's debut novel is not bad; however, in my opinion it doesn't deserve the hype. It is perhaps a little above mediocre in the YA category, but for this reader (who happens to fall, by virtue of age, into the YA category herself) it is solidly average overall. And you know, life is too short to be reading only average books, when so many exceptional works are being published every day. I won't be reading the sequels to A Great and Terrible Beauty, although I do welcome end spoilers.
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keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Keix

January 2011

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