A Great and Terrible Beauty
by Libba Bray
Read Novemeber 2008
This book surprised me. It was not at all what I thought it was going to be about. My friend Lesley gave it to me to read.
The book starts with the main character, Gemma Doyle, in India with her family where she has lived all her life. She wants to go to England desperately, but her mother will not permit it. Gemma makes her opinion quite clear to her mother and anyone else who will listen.
Suddenly, some weird thing happens and I was confused. It was just a jump in the plot. Someone warns Gemma’s mother of something and then she gives Gemma her necklace and runs off. Gemma runs off as well, but experiences disturbing visions of a huge black whirlwind overtaking her mother and her mother taking out a knife and killing herself.
The visions turn out to be true. Her mother is dead and she is sent off to England to the Spence Academy for Girls. She is immediately the outcast and is roomed with the other outcast, a orphaned girl who is there on scholarship.
The ‘popular’ clique immediately begins with taunting and pulling pranks on her and Ann, her roommate.
A mysterious boy who she saw in India just before her mothers death appears. He warns her to stop the visions. Gemma ands up finding the diary of Mary Dodd, a former schoolgirl at Spence. The diary talks of many mysterious and magical things.
Gemma finds out a secret about Felicity, one of the popular girls, and they begin to form an odd, twisted sort of friendship. Pippa, Felicity’s best friend is against the relationship from the beginning, but Felicity is obviously the headstrong leader of the group. What she says goes.
Felicity wants to form a club with Gemma and Pippa. Gemma insists that they include Ann as well. They begin to read the diary and desire to learn more about the secret realms Mary wrote about.
The characters really start to develop as the book moves on, and each brings something special to the group. Felicity and Pippa seem less cruel, or at least you get some insight into why they act they way they do.
I enjoyed this book even though it took a little while for the story to unfold and make a bit of sense.
When I was looking for a picture to post with this I found out that it was part of a trilogy. The first book was good enough to make me want to read the others in the series. I shall have to see if my library has them.
I also thought the ending was a bit abrupt, but now that I know that this is part of a trilogy, I am less disappointed.
I also saw something that this might be made into a movie. The estimated release date was 2010. We’ll see if it makes it. It would make a good movie, given a decent budget for special effects. Especially with the young adult fantasy craze going on right now.