Release Date: April 8th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Drama, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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.
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! Great 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!~
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