Friday, May 23, 2014


Great by Sara Benincasa
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 263
Keywords: summer, family, parties
Format Read: library book
Get It: Book Depository
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.
Honestly, by the time I found this at the library and read it, I had completely forgotten it was a retelling of The Great Gatsby. And I think it was better that way. Obviously, it's not written as classic literary fiction. It's not meant to. And I think that was where a lot of people were getting hung up with the story, was because they wanted it to be this big, revolutionary novel like the original. Come on, people. This is YA book (a really good one, at that) that is telling it's own story that similarly parallels that of Fitzgerald's book. That's pretty much it.

That said, I loved the premise of the whole thing. I loved that Naomi was a reluctant Hampton-er, and it took a lot to even get her to the house, let alone to play along with everything her mother had set up for her once there. I really wanted to know more about Jacinta, but, like Gatsby, that's the point of his character non-development. To be this big mysterious person who turns out to be just like everyone else, but I still wanted more and felt like I didn't get enough. So it was really well done that Jacinta was annoyingly mysterious and puzzling. Her relationships with Naomi and Delilah were also super interesting and totally believable. There wasn't a moment in this book that the characters felt unrealistic or out of place. And while I have never been to the Hamptons, I still saw every action as something that would happen.

And I want to talk about hate. How much I love to hate characters that are super hate-able. And there was one in here. I loved him mainly because I wanted to rip his eyeballs out.

I was also surprised by courses of events, mainly I think because I forgot the book was a retelling of Gatsby, but it was still really well done for a book's plot, and I enjoyed the way the plot took the reader, in all sorts of different and interesting directions. And then once I realized, I saw the end coming, which made it that much better/horrifying and I found myself not wanting to turn the pages because I knew what was going to happen, but I couldn't stop myself.

Read When: Honestly, this is an excellent pool-side read, and I would go grab it before the summer is over. Now is prime time.

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