Review Detail

Overall rating 
 
2.3
Plot 
 
2.0
Characters 
 
2.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0

Underwhelming

I began reading A Great and Terrible Beauty expecting Victorian-style dialogue and mannerisms, intermixed with bits of fantasy and magic. What I got was the repeated mention of Victorian ideals (and fashion), using modern dialogue with next-to-no fantasy or magic. Frankly, I was a little disappointed.

After my first encounter with Gemma, I was tempted to put the book down and walk away. She came across as a spoiled and self-centred juvenile who I had no interest in reading about. Fortunately, after the death of her mother, she managed to pull her head out of her ass long enough to see that the world did not in fact revolve around her. In time, her moments of immaturity grew on me as I realized it was a pretty accurate depiction of your average sixteen-year-old, and she was strong when the moment required strength from her.

Having read in the summary that Gemma "blackmails" herself and Ann into the popular clique at her new boarding school, I was looking forward to cattiness and betrayals and a general feeling of constant distrust. What I got was a "friendship" (and I'm using that term very loosely) that seemed shallow and unrealistic. Gemma is constantly being used as a pawn by Felicity to make Pippa jealous, and seems to take no issue with it. In fact, she seems to relish in the moments where Felicity chooses her over Pippa, as she delights in seeing Pippa's hurt over her best friend's betrayal. For reasons I can't fathom, Gemma decides to trust these girls enough to tell them her deepest secret - she has visions and the ability to transport them all into a different realm where whatever they can imagine will come into fruition.

When we finally get to the realms, Gemma is told she is not allowed to use her powers outside of the realms. For the longest time no real reason is given, other then the patronizing "because I said so" routine of parents, and so of course when she is pushed by her "friends" (who then seemed to be using her for access to the realms and the power it gave them) to take the magic into the real world, Gemma does so without real fear of the consequences - because they were never properly explained to her.

I did enjoy the slow pacing of the revealing of secrets, as I felt it gave me a reason to continue reading. Without the mystery surrounding the realms, and Gemma's mother's involvement, I doubt I would have kept reading, especially considering that it took almost 300 pages before the realms were presented; the lack of magic and otherworldliness was quite off-putting as I was expecting quite a bit of fantasy. I read elsewhere that the "magic of the realms teeters on the edge of becoming a metaphor for drug use" and I couldn't agree more. There were several scenes where I was expecting the girls to get caught using some substance to explain their vivid delusions, as the images that were described seemed so disjointed.

Overall I feel quite underwhelmed by this book. It took about 100 pages or so before it managed to catch most of my attention, and even then I found myself putting the book down quite frequently as other things managed to steal my attention. I did enjoy reading it, but I really don't have much to say about it, which is why it's getting 2 stars for "meh" instead of 3 for "enjoyable yet non-memorable".

Was this review helpful to you? 

Comments

1 results - showing 1 - 1  
 
Ordering 
 
Already have an account? or Create an account
Sasha Shamblen Written by Sasha Shamblen
April 03, 2013
I totally agree with you on all of your points!
1 results - showing 1 - 1  
 
 
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Shatter the Sky (Shatter the Sky, #1)
Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Virtue of Sin
Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven in the desert...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Tin
Tin
In an alternative England of the 1930s where the laws...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Stolen Girl
Nadia is haunted by World War II. Her memories of...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Iliad
More than three thousand years ago, two armies faced each...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
A Light Amongst Shadows
James Spencer is hardly the typical troubled youth who ends...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
the orphan fixed.jpg
Sometimes the ones who save us are the ones we...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Astrid the Unstoppable
Pippi Longstocking meets Heidi meets Anne Shirley in this tale...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Dreamland
In his sleep, Louie starts visiting a magical world where...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Me, Shakespeare and the Anti-Love Club
Heartbroken and spurned Kassidy starts an Anti-Love Club in response...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Last Hope (The Raging Ones, #2)
Sacrifice all you have to survive. ...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
NewBookCover.jpg
The Akakies, a peaceful, technologically advanced alien species known as...
 
0.0
 
5.0 (1)
A new, revised edition of Edward Willett’s multi-award-winning young adult...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Love at First Fight
Band Geek vs Quarterback... One humiliating photo, a stupid...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Ellie Quinn has spent most of her sixteen years behind...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
King Geek vs the Cheerleader Julia Farrow...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

Lost in the Antarctic: The Doomed Voyage of the Endurance
 
5.0
"LOST IN THE ANTARCTIC takes you on the doomed, yet brave journey of the ship called the Endurance and its..."
Horses: The Definitive Catalog of Horse and Pony Breeds
 
5.0
"Horses: The Definitive Catalog of Horse and Pony Breeds is a stunning book that any horse lover will want to..."
Born Just Right
 
5.0
"In BORN JUST RIGHT, Jordan Reeves was born without the bottom half of her left arm, but she doesn't let..."
The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown
 
5.0
"THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT MARGARET WISE BROWN is a biography about the famous author who brought us so many great..."
We Love Animals: Two Books in One!
 
5.0
"WE LOVE ANIMALS is a fun, interactive way for children to learn about the different habitats that animals live in...."
Wonders of Nature: Explorations in the World of Birds, Insects and Fish
 
5.0
"WONDERS OF NATURE is a gorgeously illustrated, oversized book that discusses birds, fish, and bugs in an approachable way for..."
I am a Wonder Woman
 
5.0
"I AM A WONDER WOMAN is a fun and cool activity book which celebrates the amazing things women have done..."
Ultimate Secrets Revealed: A Closer Look at the Weirdest, Wildest Facts on Earth
 
5.0
"ULTIMATE SECRETS REVEALED has so much information about the weirdest things compiled into one book. The main topics the book..."
Fly With Me: A Celebration of Birds through Pictures, Poems, and Stories
 
5.0
""You aim, and click in perfect light a wing beat caught, in frozen flight." FLY WITH ME is everything..."
The Great Grammar Book
 
5.0
"THE GREAT GRAMMAR BOOK is a fun and engaging way to introduce grammar to a child and to help them..."
Can You Say It, Too? Tweet! Tweet! (Can You Say It, Too?)
 
5.0
"This delightful lift-the-flap book shows different birds and the sounds they make. The images are vibrant with bold colors and..."
Dog Science Unleashed: Fun Activities to do with your Canine Companion
 
5.0
"This fun, colorful, and well-illustrated book covers four major topics of scientific research; Sniffing Out Senses, Fit Fido, Clever Canines..."
To the Moon and Back: My Apollo 11 Adventure
 
5.0
"Astronaut and prolific author (Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet, 2015) Buzz Aldrin brings his experiences..."
You Are Light
 
4.7
"This elegant board book is a celebration of light with a simple lyrical poem accompanied by die-cut colored circles. When..."
Dia de los Muertos: Celebrate the World
 
5.0
"Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, teaches young readers all about this ancient tradition celebrated in Mexico and..."
Meet the Artist: JMW Turner
 
4.3
"J.M.W. Turner was a landscape painter and student of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1789. As a young teen..."
Try a Little Kindness
 
4.0
"This young children’s book features a poem setting the stage at the beginning, middle, and end, filled with ideas for..."
The World of the Bible: Biblical Stories and the Archaeology Behind Them
 
3.7
"A reading experience that combines the Bible with actual archaeological finds and information—bringing scripture to life in a more vivid..."
I Love Classical Music (My First Sound Book)
 
3.7
"This board book includes six excerpts from famous classical music along with colorful images that correspond to the music. The..."
This Little Scientist: A Discovery Primer
 
5.0
"THIS LITTLE SCIENTIST is a great board book which features a scientist plus a cute rhyming phrase about their work..."