Tuesday, May 19, 2009


The Gemma Doyle Trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing) by Libba Bray
Genre: fantasy, YA
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Review: Gemma Doyle is the worst kind of unreliable narrator. It's not that she herself is untrustworthy, but that throughout this trilogy, she can't figure out who to trust. As a result, the reader never knows who to trust, or what the rules are for "realms" or for the magic that inhabits them. This is problematic if one agrees (which I do) with the general rule for fantasy writing that the rules for the world that the author has created must be clear and consistent. If neither the reader nor the narrator know the rules or who to trust, the story doesn't hang together very well. At least, it doesn't in this case. Some of the people we initially think are friends become enemies, and then some become friends again, and it is never through actual shifting loyalties, but because Gemma doesn't ask the right questions and rarely takes the time to think things through the reader is never quite sure who's on what side. So although she's the only clearly identified "good guy" in the story, I couldn't help but wish she acted more like the heroine she's supposed to be.

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