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As many of you can see, I've been a pretty terrible blogger lately! What can I say...Life.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Must-Reads #3: “The Gemma Doyle Trilogy” by Libba Bray

Title: The Gemma Doyle Trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing)
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Edition: Paperback: 2003
Back Cover Summary: Gemma Doyle isn’t like other girls. Girls with impeccable manners, who speak when spoken to, who remember their station, and who will lie back and think of England when it’s required of them.
No, sixteen-year-old Gemma is an island unto herself, sent to Spence Academy in London after tragedy strikes her family in India. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma finds a chilly reception. But she’s not completely alone…she’d been followed by a mysterious young man, who warns her to close her mind against the visions.
For it’s at Spence that Gemma’s power to attract the supernatural unfolds; there she becomes entangled with the school’s most powerful girls and discovers her mother’s connection to a shadowy group called the Order. It’s there that her destiny waits…if only she can believe in it.


The first thing that stood out to me about this book was the cover. It instantly hit me as a book I would enjoy reading. It looked to be in a time period I love and the girl on the cover had red hair just like me. :) (Ohhh! When things are simple.)

High Notes: It definitely turned out to be in a time period I love! (Victorian England) so that was a giant plus for me. But would it follow up with equally interesting characters? Yes, it did. Gemma is a very interesting character. She goes from a rather carefree adventurer, loved by her family, to a motherless young woman who has been dumped off at a boarding school for girls, inhabited by stuck up prisses (some of which you grow to love or hate), surrounded by woods full of gypsies, and smothered in dark secrets. Oh! And there is a secret portal to another world that only Gemma can open! From the very start I was intrigued and continued to be all the way until the third book (which slowed down quite a bit, but picked up in the end, thankfully.)

There is also a pretty good love story between  Gemma and one of the gypsy boys.

Low Notes: As intriguing as the “other” world may sound, the real world was actually more interesting. In the other world, Gemma and her friends have powers, which they spend conjuring butterflies and flowers. (This is not a joke. Butterflies and flowers. Wouldn’t you do something else if you had powers?) Every now and then, they venture from a relatively safe meadow to other parts of the world and encounter interesting creatures, but other than that, it’s rather boring. I very much preferred when the girls were in the real world, running from a secret order, uncovering the past of the boarding school, avoiding embarrassing marriage proposals, and getting out of all the trouble they found themselves in.


Character Development: 4.5/5
Dialogue: 5/5
Prose: 4/5
Believability: 3/5 (I would give it a five if the whole book was based solely in the “real” world, but the “other” worldly stuff was ridiculous for the most part. Butterflies and flowers!)
Style and Grammar: 5/5
Overall Rating: 86% Fascinating!


  1. I'll try finding it! I'm dying to read it. The cover just hit my when I saw it - They say to not judge books by it's cover, but sadly I do.
    Your ratings are fascinating - a book like that would surely make my collection.

  2. AA: It sounds like the author might have blown a great plot. I can tell from your excellent review that I would come away with the same feelings you had about the book. I will read it anyway, but I know the real world is always much more fascinating. Thanks for the tip.

  3. dtwilight...Ah yes, I too will pick up a book because of it's cover, but so far it has been working. I enjoy most of the books I pick out. :)

    JJ...I usually find other worlds pretty fascinating. The world in "Poison Study" is fabulous, but this one just didn't work and I found it unecessary when there are so many foreboding and interesting things happening in the real world. Besides, that time period can feel like a new world in itself. :)

  4. Maybe the flowers and butterflies could be metaphorical. Life isn't all sunshine and daisies or rainbows and butterflies, as they discover, so they make such things a reality in this alternate plain.

  5. Matt...it's a lovely thought but I'm pretty sure that wasn't it. I think they were just big girly girls that couldn't think of anything better at the moment. Later in the book they did makeovers! Even later they tried to fly. (I would have liked to fly at least.)

  6. Has this author written anything else?

  7. Matt... As far as I know she has written one other book called "Going Bovine." it's a satire.

  8. Knowing that, I feel as though she wrote the other piece with a bit of humor in mind.

  9. Dropping by from the hop. I'm a new follower!
    I enjoyed this book - I enjoyed the whole series, but I'd say this was my least favorite of the three. I'm not entirely sure why. I was a bit dissatisfied with the ending.

  10. Matt...Perhaps, but both books felt very different from each other. The Gemma Doyle series was a like a fantasy thriller and Going Bovine was a modern day psychological comedy. There was no crossover what so ever. Who knows though what goes on inside some authors.

    Alison...Yes, I felt the same way. I didn't love the ending and I didn't really like that everything went down in the "other" world, but the first and second books were awesome and made up for it for me.

  11. I suppose I can only make speculation, since I've not read them.

  12. Eschelle...It's definately worth a read. Let me know if you pick it up!

    Matt...I suppose and although I don't think the Gemma Doyle series would be somethign you would enjoy series, you might enjoy "Going Bovine." If you get the chance, go and read the back cover summary somewhere. :)

  13. Hi, just came across your blog from "The Book Lovers' Blog Hop"... Nicely written review!

  14. This sounds like a fabulous book, one I would love for sure.

    Thank you for participating in the Book Lover’s Blog Hop @ Story Time Under the Stars and Frugality Is Free. I hope you will link up a book review this week...

  15. JR frugal mom...I did just the other day. it's my Midsummer Night's Dream review! :)


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