Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Themed Post (Books that take place in a boarding school): Gemma Doyle Series

I think one of the things that set this series apart from other boarding school books is the time in which it was set. The novel is set at Spence Academy for girls in England in the year 1895 where our protagonist, Gemma Doyle is sent to after the tragic death of her mother in India. Starting a new school is always uncomfortable but having visions of the future that often come true is even more so.  These novels are packed full of mystery, love, friendship, old world standards and expectations for women, girls who rebel against them, and otherworldly magic.  When a spirit leads Gemma to find a mysterious hidden diary that unlocks the secrets of a mysterious order they find themselves in another world filled with new possibilities both fantastic and deadly.

Title: A Great and Terrible Beauty (Book 1)
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Published: March 22, 2005

From the Publisher:
It's 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma's reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she's been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence's most powerful girls-and their foray into the spiritual world-lead to?

Title: Rebel Angels (Book 2)
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Published: December 26, 2006

From the Publisher:
Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy-spending time with her friends in the city, attending balls in fancy gowns with plunging necklines, and dallying with the handsome Lord Denby. Yet amid these distractions, her visions intensify-visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened that only the realms can explain.

The lure is strong, and soon Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world that Gemma takes them to. To the girls great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.

But all is not well in the realms-or out. Kartik is back, desperately insisting to Gemma that she must bind the magic, lest colossal disaster befall her. Gemma is willing to comply, for this would bring her face-to-face with her late mother''s greatest friend, now Gemma's foe-Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task. . . .

This sumptuous companion to A Great and Terrible Beauty teems with Victorian thrills and chills that play out against the rich backdrop of 1895 London, a place of shadows and light . . . where inside great beauty can lie a rebel angel.

Title: The Sweet Far Thing (Book 3)
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Random House Children's Books 
Published: December 26, 2007

From the Publisher: 

IT HAS BEEN A YEAR OF CHANGE since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a
laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.

The Order - the mysterious group her mother was once part of - is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence's burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.

I think this is a great series for any YA enthusiast.  This series had many attributes that kept me reading but it was the unfolding mystery that really had me captivated by this series.  I felt as though the main characters as a whole were believable, genuine, and accurate based the historical period in which the novels take place.  I felt as though a lot of emphasis was placed on beauty and money being the most desired and important qualities a woman has or doesn't have however that is still fairly accurate to the period in history.  The magical "other world" created by Libba Bray was very well written and her descriptive words had me clearly envisioning this world with vivid clarity. I think her unique portrayal of an alternate universe is refreshing to the YA genre as a whole where we are currently being bombarded with an overabundance of vampire fiction. 


Check out Libba Bray's website where you will find a few interesting goodies including sample chapters of each of her novels.  Although IMDB still has this book categorized as "in production" with a estimated release date of 2010 I think they need to update their site as according to Libba Bray Icon relinquished the rights to this film and it will not be made into a movie for the foreseeable future (BOOOO).

I posted yesterday a really well done fan made trailer of, A Great and Terrible Beauty but it seems fitting to end this post with it again!


Natalie (Mindful Musings) said...

I really, really enjoyed this series. To me, it seemed like these books just added a fresh new perspective to the YA category. Libba Bray is such a talented writer. I can't wait for her next series! :)

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

These have me interested!

Lindsey said...

I just wish there were more!!!

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