Friday, October 4, 2013

Neither Great Nor Terrible

A Great and Terrible Beauty
by Libba Bray
Published by Simon and Schuster
3 Out of 5 Stars

I swiped this out of the classroom one day because I had lunch duty and my choices were A) stare at the perpetual hacky sack game for 30 minutes or B) read something. As you can see, I didn't have much of a choice at all (it was one of those Eddie Izzard "Cake or death?" scenarios). When I began the book, I was immediately hooked--exotic locale, spirited protagonist, hint of the supernatural. However, it was a case of infatuation-at-first-sight that burned out rather quickly. After finishing the book, I was left with an overwhelming sensation of "meh."

Why did the book lose my interest so quickly? Here's a quickly compiled list of possible reasons:

A) Began in India, but then switched to an isolated boarding school for girls in Victorian England. Come on! They lost me as soon as they left an amazing setting with all kinds of possibility for a mediocre one.

B) It's a young adult book and those don't always sit well with me. I just couldn't connect to the four girls that form the clique in the book. Case in point: they begin dabbling in witchcraft and one uses her power to create the perfect Prince Charming and one uses hers to--shock!--be beautiful. Puh-leaze.

C) Speaking of the four girls, stereotypes in the extreme: the mysterious one with a dark secret; the beautiful, but tragic one; the rebellious spirit; and the plain girl who doesn't belong in this world of prestige and riches.

So why did I give it a 3? It's fairly well written, it has an interesting premise (though the execution falls flat), there are a few genuinely funny moments,and it will probably appeal to the intended audience. I may read the sequels, but it will be a bit before I muster up the interest in doing so.

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