A Great and Terrible Beauty This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Looking at the cover of A Great and Terrible Beauty, a book my grandmother bought me, I was not too excited. Actually, the picture of a girl in a corset brought to mind those horrible romance novels that old ladies read. Still, I'm not one to judge a book by its cover, so I decided to give it a chance, if only to satisfy my grandmother.

Nothing like I expected, A Great and Terrible Beauty is nearly flawless. Taking place during the Victorian era, this book captures the social restraint and the emerging ­feminism through its main character, Gemma Doyle. Gemma strives to cope with the death of her mother, her opium-addicted ­father, and her overly socially conscience grandmother. On top of that, Gemma must deal with the other issues: being accepted by peers, her strange visions, and the conspiracies that surround her.

Normally when a character gains supernatural powers, the story plunges into cheesiness. In this case, it actually helps Libba Bray portray the themes, including the struggle for power and corruption as a side effect. Although Gemma's power gains her friends, their jealousy causes them to turn on each other.

The story is haunting and eerily beautiful, as Gemma and her friends discover the truth behind each other's secrets and explore a hidden world. Each character is amazingly flawed and believable.

Although the ending is ­depressing and unsatisfactory, look for two sequels that are equally incredible. Through the characters' quests to empower themselves in a world where women were second-class citizens, Bray establishes her trilogy as both a social commentary and a genuinely captivating ­adventure

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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alex9426 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 1, 2010 at 7:37 pm
you're so right. i loved this book so much. i found it at a used book store for really cheap, but i don't think i would've bought it if it were full price. but like you i'm so glad i gave it a chance. have you read the second and third books? they're just as good, and i highly recommend them. don't worry- no spoilers here, but seriously, if you read this and liked it, you'll love "rebel angels" and "the sweet far thing"
 
Sarah P. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 1, 2010 at 8:18 pm
Yeah i've read the sequels. They are also amazing! I'm glad someone else likes this series so much, most people find it difficult to understand.
 
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