Book Review: Great by Sara Benincasa

Posted May 9, 2014 by Kara in book review, Kara / 2 Comments

Book Review: Great by Sara BenincasaGreat by Sara Benincasa
Published by Harper Teen on April 8th, 2014
Genres: contemporary, young adult
Pages: 263
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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one-half-stars

In Sara Benincasa's contemporary retelling of The Great Gatsby, a teenage girl becomes entangled in the drama of a Hamptons social circle, only to be implicated in a tragedy that shakes the summer community.

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.

I am soooooo saddddd. Oh gosh, you guys. Wahhhh wahhhh. First things first, this book failed on almost every level for me. I was told it MIGHT work for me, since The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books. F. Scott Fitzgerald can write like no one else. Writing, characters, symbolism, atmosphere, suspense…it’s all there. I was hoping and expecting the same out of Great. And it did not work. Not even a little bit.

The author wrote some of the parallels between her book and the original well, but the writing was pretty clunky, and the things that made the shallow characters in The Great Gatsby worth reading about were missing here. This book was just a shallow story about Manhattanites going to The Hamptons for the summer. There was no depth, the dialogue really missed the mark, and the characters made me roll my eyes. What sympathy I felt for Jacinta went out the window as soon as she opened her mouth. They were just all so annoying! In the original I actually LIKED most of the characters, as shallow as they were. Particularly Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway. The only one I could remotely tolerate was Naomi (Nick) but even she had her moments.

I don’t actually have a lot to say, as I pretty much DNFed the book. I stopped reading around page 120 and then I skipped to the end to see how the big reveal and shocker of an ending was handled, and meh. It was just as I expected it would be. It was alright, I guess, but when it comes down to it, I truly think the classics should be left alone. They are classics for a reason. If you love The Great Gatsby, just read The Great Gatsby.

Really shoddy execution here. Shallow writing, shallow plot, annoying characters. Part of what made the original work were the beautiful passages and building atmosphere and tension. There was just none of that here. I can’t honestly say I recommend it. It was interesting to see how the author would handle certain scenes and rewrite them for a modern and teenage audience, but that’s about it.

I didn’t love it.

kara

2 responses to “Book Review: Great by Sara Benincasa

  1. Huh, I tend to be pro-classics retellings just because you know, I like reading re-tellings and sometimes they make classics feel more accessible to me.

    I am a tiny bit sad you hated Great, but I think I’ll still give it shot because hmmmm, shrugs, I don’t always hate shallow characters. I don’t know, we’ll see, I guess.

    ALSO, I love the new blog look and the move to wordpress. Congrats, yo. I am sure you moved like weeks ago, but this is me, the girl who reads blogs 4x a month because I just get so overwhelmed by ALL THE CONTENT and ALL THE AWESOME out there. So yes, expect like a comment flood between today and Sunday. A FLOOD OF COMMENTS <3333333
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