Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy."
Soo... hmm. Well-- I don't know. I mean, it was a good book. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mindset for it or something. Well, whatever it was, I thought the book was fine and good enough, but wouldn't exactly do cartwheels for it. On the positive side of things, it was very vividly written and was able to convey a lot of themes and emotions. Word use and settings were really stellar. One of the things that made it a little offsetting for me, though, was the amount all the characters changed from one moment to the next. And, I mean, it's good to have a book that breaks stereotypes and looks beyond them, but it was a little more unnerving than that. A character could do something decidedly mean or awful, but it would be forgotten about in five pages. They're a group of girls who supposedly end up best friends, but are capable of lashing out horribly at each other. And I get where some of this is coming from: the flaws of humans and our ability to be led and swayed, but it didn't exactly make the characters wholeheartedly endearing to read. Anyway, in conclusion, it wasn't by any shot a bad book. It was quite good, especially if you're in the curling-up-in-bed mindset. It was a tad slow at times, and had those other elements I talked about, but the style is good and I was fine with reading it. This is one of those ones that you really need to try for yourself to decide. I've heard many other people have really liked it (and I'm going to give the second one a try). It's at BMS, Sitka High, MEHS, and Kettleson.