By: Celine | April 2, 2014 | (21) Comments

Review: Great by Sara BenincasaGreat by Sara Benincasa
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April 8th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Drama, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
Goodreads | Purchase

Everyone loves a good scandal.

Naomi Rye usually dreads spending the summer with her socialite mother in East Hampton. This year is no different. She sticks out like a sore thumb among the teenagers who have been summering (a verb only the very rich use) together for years. But Naomi finds herself captivated by her mysterious next-door neighbor, Jacinta. Jacinta has her own reason for drawing close to Naomi-to meet the beautiful and untouchable Delilah Fairweather. But Jacinta's carefully constructed world is hiding something huge, a secret that could undo everything. And Naomi must decide how far she is willing to be pulled into this web of lies and deception before she is unable to escape.

Based on a beloved classic and steeped in Sara Benincasa's darkly comic voice, Great has all the drama, glitz, and romance with a terrific modern (and scandalous) twist to enthrall readers.

stickers-my-review (1)

Lately, I’ve been both lucky and unlucky when it comes to books. Lucky in the sense that I haven’t read anything truly ghastly in a while, but unlucky because I haven’t read anything great (see what I did there?) either. All the ratings I have given out lately have ranged from around 2.5 stars to 3.5 stars. Which is fine – for a while. But I just really want to read something that will blow me away – hell, I’m starting to wish I’d read something terrible just because it would spice things up a bit! GreatΒ wasn’t awful, but it also didn’t exactly blow me away.

Now, Great is a retelling of The Great Gatsby. I’m ashamed to admit that I have, in fact, not read the latter, so I honestly can’t compare the two. However, I know bits of the Gatsby story and from what I know, Great stays pretty close to Gatsby, apart from a few gender switches.

Great – like The Great Gatsby, from what I’ve been told – is a peculiar book: the topics have to be ones you like reading about, because otherwise you will not like this book. And with ‘topics’ I mean: rich people’s problems. Because basically, that’s what this book is about: about the upper social classes partying and bitching at each other. If you read that sentence and thought ‘ew’, I would advise you not to pick up this book. However, if it sparked even the littlest of interest, I’d say go for it! Because then you might end up really liking this!

Naomi, who is our main character, was a bit of an on-and-off character to me. At times, I really liked her and her spunky attitude. Most of the time, she doesn’t see being rich as self-evident, and she has little patience putting up with her mother, who tries to dress her in Marc Jacobs clothing and frilly pink dresses. (I absolutely disliked Naomi’s mother, by the way. She was really quite bitchy and never seemed to care about anyone but herself.)Other times, though, Naomi felt a bit bland and bitchy herself. She’s a bit of a hypocryte, since she bashes the rich people and their ridiculous parties but does attend those parties and enjoys her own money at the same time. I do realize that her character growth had something to do with it. She gradually becomes one of the ‘rich guys’ herself without really realizing it, and I admire the subtle way Benincasa did this, but I do wish that Naomi would have seem who she was becoming at some point.

Then there’s Skags. Oh, Skags. This was definitely the character I had the most trouble with. Not because of the character herself, because I quite liked her personality. The problems lies here: Skags is a lesbian. Now, do not get me wrong, because I think that is AWESOME. Yay for LBGT in YA! However, I felt that this became her defining characteristic, and I do have a problem with that. You can bet that whenever Skags’s name is mentioned, you can find the word ‘lesbian’ in the next sentence. It was emphasized so much that I felt her character was simply ‘lesbian’. Period.

The ‘romance’ was refreshing, because mostly there isn’t one. Naomi sort of hooks up with someone over the summer, but it’s not really serious and definitely not the focus of the novel. Do not expect the world ‘love’ to be thrown around here. Ever. I really liked this aspect because it’s been pretty long since I read a book with little to no romance in it.

In all, Great was a solid, if not a little disappointing, read. While I did have some problems with it, I ended up enjoying this fast read. Recommended to fans of The Great Gatsby!

~Thank you HarperTeen for sending me a copy!~

3 Stars
The following two tabs change content below.
Celine is 17 years old and from the Netherlands. Quite obviously, she loves books! She has been a reader for as long as she can remember, and she believes she will be a reader forever. Celine is also obsessed with food, and loves singing along to music as loud as possible, dancing and doodling on nearly everything.

Want more posts like this?

Subscribe via email to receive new posts on book reviews, bookish giveaways, discussions and more!

21 Responses to Review: Great by Sara Benincasa

  1. Jasprit says:

    Oh I’m sorry that you haven’t had the best luck with books lately Celine. My last 5 star read was at the beginning of the month, so I know what it feels like reading so so books for a while. I haven’t read The Great Gatsby either! And I don’t rally have a clue what its about either I know *shock horror* but I really do feel like giving this book a go, so will definitely pick up The Great Gatsby beforehand. Great review, I hope a great book comes your way soon! πŸ™‚
    Jasprit recently posted…Monthly Recap: March.My Profile

  2. I haven’t read The Great Gatsby either…but this sounds like an interesting read! I do get sad though, when a characters only defining characteristic is ONE thing. I mean, no one only has ONE thing that’s interesting about them! Everyone has tons of things! And that doesn’t make it a very broad representation of LBGT characters either, because it’s kind of saying that the only “thing interesting” about them is the fact that they’re LBGT. Humph. I hope you find a book to blow your socks off soon. Reading lots of suckish books in a row is kind of depressing. 😐
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (quiet fangirling involved)My Profile

    • Celine says:

      It is depressing! However I have Love Letters to the Dead and Dreams of Gods and Monsters comign up soon so I hope those will blow me away! And yes to what you said about people not having one defining characteristic – that’s so true! Everyone I know has so many interesting things, it’d be impossible to describe them in one word!

  3. I haven’t really been reading the greatest books, either. I mean, I haven’t given any 5-star rating to any book since November. D: I don’t really think I’ll like Naomi’s character. She seems a bit… moody. Even if she’s pretty spunky most of the time, those other times of her being bitchy–I’m not sure if those will matter less than the good. Anyway, lovely review, Celine!
    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings recently posted…Monthly Recap: MarchMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      That sucks! My last 5 star read was at the beginning of January πŸ™ To be honest, I don’t think you’ll like this very much. Especially if you need a 5-star-whoa-omg-amazing book soon πŸ˜› I hope you find something great to read!

  4. I have to say, I’m not a fan of books based on the upper class having a bitch about one another and doing lavish things, I’m much more of a working class or middle class characters type person, so I doubt I’ll be picking this up, and it’s one of the big reasons I’ve read read The Great Gatsby, but who knows, I might change in the future.. Great (get it) review though Celine, and I know to avoid this book now though, however, I do hope you get to pick up a book that blows you away very soon! πŸ™‚
    Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #11My Profile

    • Celine says:

      Haha, I can totally understand that! And I keep unconsciously making puns with “Great”, ahaha. I keep saying to people that I hope they’ll find something great soon and then not even realizing that until I hit “send” πŸ˜›

  5. I don’t think this book would work for me. I can deal with reading about the elite, but I don’t like anybody messing with my idea of The Great Gatsby either. Still, it sounds fairly solid! Great review πŸ™‚

  6. Tanja says:

    Funny, but Gatsby is one of the books I have read multiple times. Due to college and high school and what not. I mean every time we talk about american dram first thing that our professors say it The Great Gatsby so it kinda of god old. Anyhow I have heard mixed things about Great and while it does sound appealing I don’t think I’d enjoy it. Daisy is never a fave character of mine so I guess I’d never get along with Naomi. Great review, Celine πŸ™‚
    Tanja recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (#89)My Profile

  7. ehh.. I have no interest in this one. I am not a big fan of The Great Gatsby so a retelling isn’t something I am jumping up and down to read. Sounds like this one had some good points, but not enough to win me over. I know what you mean about being in the midst of a dry spell for a great read.
    Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings recently posted…Tour Stop: Zips Goes Wandering by Chris Marsh: Review, Interview and GiveawayMy Profile

  8. I’ve never read The Great Gatsby either, but the premise doesn’t interest me so I wouldn’t want to read this one either. I think the fact that Skags is a lesbian being mentioned all the time would drive me nuts too.
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Review: Pavement Chalk ArtistMy Profile

  9. I’m sorry your reading has been lacklustre lately, but I hope your next read is AWESOME!

    I’m keen to read this because I really like the author’s writing, and I have read TGG, but I wasn’t that into it so I won’t mind any of the little changes.
    The Bookish Manicurist recently posted…While We Run by Karen HealeyMy Profile

  10. I read The Great Gatsby during a classics binge two years ago (that was a weird decision). Didn’t like Gatsby, but I think it’s a really, really interesting story. Having a retelling of that is definitely original and I’m sad it wasn’t better.
    Emily @ The Loony Teen Writer recently posted…When Books Are More Than Books: The Fault in Our StarsMy Profile

  11. Well, bad news is I haven’t read The Great Gatsby, so I’m definitely not a fan. I want to try this book but I’m kinda scared I’ll be annoyed by the same stuff you said here, and considering my very thin patience and tendency to rant, I don’t know if it will be as kind as yours haha. Nevertheless, retellings should stand in their own merits, and I think this one at least delivered decently in that aspect? I hope!
    Faye @ The Social Potato recently posted…ARC Review: After the End by Amy PlumMy Profile

  12. Amir says:

    You are definitely not alone since I haven’t read The Great Gastby either. I don’t really enjoy reading about spoiled rich people’s lives unless it has revenge, murder or horror in the mix so I don’t think I’ll be reading this. There’s a reason why I stay away from those rich people reality shows LOL.

    I’m glad you enjoyed this book Celine but I hope you find an awesome 4-5 star book soon!
    Amir recently posted…Mini Review: Onyx by Jennifer L. ArmentroutMy Profile

  13. Paij Slater says:

    I may be among the minority in the reading world but I did not like the Great Gatsby. I didn’t like the book, I didn’t like the movie. So knowing it is like that, it will be hard for me to add it to my list. Thanks for the great review though πŸ™‚
    Paij Slater recently posted…HUSH by Stacey R. Campbell – ReviewMy Profile

  14. I’m so iffy about this one. I received it for review, so I WILL read it… I just keep pushing it, as I don’t think I’m in the mood for it just yet. If I’m not in the mood, I will most likely not like it whether it’s awesome or not. I don’t know what I’m waiting for… I’m just not confident I will enjoy it. Great review! I’m glad you overall did enjoy it. πŸ™‚
    Lisa @ Lost in Literature recently posted…Review: Dead Beautiful by Yvonne WoonMy Profile

  15. Great review Celine, I think it’s great because I’m pretty sure the flaw in the main character was intentional. I haven’t read The Great Gatsby before but I have a feeling I would appreciate this book more after reading it.
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas Review: Adorable Fluffy Prom ReadMy Profile

  16. Melanie says:

    I don’t mind reading about rich people and their issues, so I might end up going back to this one one day. Lovely review, Celine! <33

  17. Lily B says:

    shoot πŸ™ sorry this one didn’t blow you away, after a while I guess you just want something more.
    Lily B recently posted…Review: The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie RutkoskiMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge