I read A Great and Terrible Beauty at the end of last year and never wrote a review on it, but I did rate it 4 stars. I picked up the final two books in the trilogy, Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing over the summer and I’ll just say that it was a struggle to get through them, despite having audiobooks to help me get along.
Rebel Angels – 2.5 stars
I appreciate what Bray was trying to do in terms of feminism and racism given the time period of the book. However, I still think there is a lot that needs improvement. Gemma got on my nerves quite a bit because she took forever to do anything with the magic. She literally spent the entire book going back and forth about whether she should share it like she promised she would. She also listens to nobody and constantly puts herself and her friends in danger and it got to be quite annoying after a while. Anne and Felicity were just okay and their whole story for why Anne was visiting was just ridiculous. Did they really think no one would check on it? The side plot of Simon pursuing Gemma felt unnecessary. Ann was definitely treated more horribly than she should have been and Gemma did literally nothing when she discovered that Ann was still self-harming. Which in and of itself is extremely problematic. Not to mention the fat shaming that Ann suffered from her so-called friends. Overall, it was just an okay book for me because there were some bright spots, but I found myself wanting to read other books instead.
The Sweet Far Thing – 1 star
I literally gave zero f*cks by the end of this book. I only finished it when I did because I had already checked it out from the library 3 times and it was due back again and I have a problem with DNFing books because I’m weird like that. I absolutely hate when books take forever to build up to a climax (700 or so pages in this book’s case) and that made me care even less. I also hated that I spent 700+ pages trudging through the girls making stupid mistakes, failing to fulfill promises, and going through their debuts to get to a battle that was over so quickly, I didn’t even realize what was going on. I actually liked that parts where Ann was gone because I was so over her character by that point. Felicity and Pippa’s relationship seemed to be a bit of “hey, look, diverse book!” but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that yes, there were hints here and there throughout the previous two books. Gemma got on my nerves even more, especially when she started getting council from Circe of all people. I mean, really? Really, Gemma?! The whole thing with the Rakshana and the Order was annoying and I wanted them to just get over themselves. I really didn’t like the centaurs or Neela or Philon and I guessed that it was Neela who had a hand in making it seem like the Untouchables were responsible for a character’s death because hello, she was open from the beginning about how much she hates them. I was just incredibly frustrated throughout the entire book and there were so many problematic aspects that rubbed me the wrong way. Ann was still fat-shamed. Gemma’s sexual assault from Rebel Angels was never addressed. Felicity’s backstory of abuse by the hand of her father was used to excuse her bitchiness. It was all just too much for me and I really didn’t enjoy this book.
Here is a sample of my real-time updates from GoodReads:
p. 542: “I just really don’t care anymore. This is being dragged out. The only reason I’m trying to finish it is that my library book is due tomorrow.
p. 653: “I’m seriously considering just giving up at this point. It feels like trying to pull teeth. Also, something just happened to Fee and my thought was, “I literally don’t care.””
p. 712: “It shouldn’t take 700+ pages for the action to start. That is about 600 pages too many.”