quinta-feira, 18 de julho de 2013

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off 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’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?

My Thoughts

Ever since I've started watching book reviews on Youtube I've been curious about Libba Bray. People rave her books and she seems to be quite versatile as far as her themes go. I really wanted to read one of her books and see if I would like it or not and since I won A Great and Terrible Beauty on  a giveaway I just took it as the perfect book to start with.
I really liked the setting and how Libba Bray addressed the society and the way of thinking of Victorian England. However what was really interesting was the way  she criticized - in a subtle way - some of its standards and the role played by women during those times. I really enjoyed this and though Libba did a great job at it.

As for the characters, I liked them but I didn't love them. They had some interesting traits and I liked the fact that there was more to them than I initially thought. At first they came across as silly girls that would only care about finding a good husband and keeping appearances; petty girls that didn't have anything better to do than to mess around with those that didn't have their social status. However, as the story progressed I realized there was more to them than just that and that they had fears and anxieties and just wanted to escape their one lives. 

Of course Gemma Doyle stood out because she wasn't as futile as the other ones seemed to be and really had a mind of her own but she was also too stubborn and didn't think things through and that made her a bit reckless at times. Felicity was interesting but I didn't like how she was willing to do anything to gain power and Ann was just so desperate to fit in that she lacked self-confidence and was unable to see what her best features were. Pippa surprised me the most but I can't go into more details because I would spoil the story ...

There were only two things that bothered me a little bit about this book. I wanted to know more about the magic and the realms and unfortunately we weren't offered that much information about it. I just hope that in the other two books we get to know more about it. And then there was Kartik. I know he is supposed to play a big part in the story but in this first installment of the trilogy he didn't seem to be that relevant. I just hope that changes in the next book. 

I have to say, I didn't know what to expect from this novel. I knew it was set in Victorian England and that there was magic involved but that was it, I didn't know much else. Overall I liked the book and thought it had an interesting premise. I wasn't particularly impressed by the characters but they were fun and witty and somewhat relatable. What really stood out - at least for me - was Libba Bray's writing style. She makes writing seem effortless, she's able to create dialogues that sound quite natural and real and the way she makes subtle critiques to some of the values and behaviors promoted at the time was spot on! 

An interesting start to this trilogy and a great introduction to Libba Bray's work.

4 out of 5 stars!

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