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A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

I feel like if I summarize even the first little bit of this book for you, I will spoil some important and suspenseful plot point, so I will give you just some bizarre thematic/scenic details instead. This book is about a teenage girl with supernatural powers. It is also a gothic thriller. It is also a sort of feminist manifesto. It has no perfect characters, which is refreshing. And there is one very cool teacher in it.

I listened to the audio book of A Great and Terrible Beauty, and while I enjoyed it fine for the first seven (of ten) discs, it wasn’t until disc eight that things really got exciting for me. From that point on, though, I was riveted. Please understand: it is a good book all the way through. It just took me that long to get to the point where when I was doing other things I’d think, "Gee, I wish I were listening to A Great and Terrible Beauty."

More exciting to me than the book itself, though, was a bit on the last disc where Libba Bray herself read from her diary of the experience of writing the book. Hearing the enthusiasm in her voice, especially about her research, made me very excited about reading and writing. And hearing about the volume of research she did made me realize that perhaps one of the reasons I consistently have trouble finishing writing something is that I never seem to fully immerse myself in the world of my writing. (Except with fanfiction. This is never a problem for me with fanfiction. I lived in the world of Buffy for four years, and have been in and out of it ever since.)

Anyway, I highly recommend this book for anyone who is fond of gothic thrillers or complex characters.  It does have a steamy bit, so I would say more mature readers are the ones to whom I’d give this book.

Book: A Great and Terrible Beauty [affiliate link]
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Original Publication Date: March 2005
Pages: 403
Age Range: Young Adult
Source of Book: Library

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