Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book Review: Great by Sara Benincasa

Pages: 272
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: April 8, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."
Naomi Rye spends every summer at her mother's house in the Hamptons; after all, her mother is the famous and wildly popular cooking show host, Anne Rye.  Naomi is the opposite of her mother, which makes her a bit reluctant to spend the entire summer with her, but things start to change for the better this summer when she meets her new next door neighbor, Jacinta.  Jacinta is a famous fashion blogger and throws lavish parties in her palatial mansion.  Naomi also starts hanging out with Delilah Fairweather, a senator's daughter, and her friends, which also peaks Jacinta's interest as she is a huge fan of Delilah.  To top off her good luck, she also starts dating Jeff, one of Deliah's friends, and of course her mother approves since Jeff's dad is a big wig in the music industry. Things are actually starting to look up and maybe this summer doesn't have to be as bad as Naomi imagined.  However, slowly Naomi and others start to realize that maybe Jacinta isn't who she seems to be and what's up with her obsession with Delilah? Secrets are paramount in this contemporary retelling of The Great Gatsby.  Sara Benincasa's debut, Great, is a scandal-icious read that's perfect for spring break; fans of The Great Gatsby will enjoy looking for similarities between the two.

Naomi is an interesting character in Great. She comes to the Hamptons decked out in what her mother thinks are "goth" clothes and a few weeks later is sporting high-end fashion, thanks to her wealthy mother.  Much like Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby, Naomi finds herself immersed in a culture that she deplores on one hand, but also finds intriguing.  As the summer progresses, she finds herself hanging out at the parties that people blog about, including Jacinta.  As she spends more and more time with Jacinta and Delilah, whom she thought she introduced to each other, she realizes that their relationship is more than just a casual acquaintance. Perhaps they knew each other previously? Naomi can't help but wonder then why is that a secret?

I love The Great Gatsby and I think Benincasa did a good job of keeping the storyline similar, yet freshening it up with some modern touches.  For example, Jacinta/Gatsby's relationship with Delilah/Daisy is pretty unconventional, but that is what spices the plot up. Although Great isn't the strongest retelling of The Great Gatsby and it didn't blow my mind, I still enjoyed the subtle similarities to the classic and the fresh perspective that Benincasa brings.  

Simply put, this novel is a lot of fun. It includes scandal, romance, secrets, and the extremely wealthy. It was very Gossip Girl meets The Great Gatsby.  So, with that said, if you are like me and you like a fluffy read in the springtime, then Great is perfect for that.


14 comments:

  1. Sounds fun. For some reason the cover is striking to me. It's simple but strong. Great review. I keep meaning to read the GG.

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    1. Yes, I do love the cover. Thanks, Juju! You should definitely read the GG sometime. I like it, but I know many who don't. Thanks for visiting!

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  2. The Great Gatsby was one of the few required reading books in high school that I remember actually enjoying! While this retelling didn't wow you clearly, I'm glad you had fun reading it nonetheless Christina!

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    1. Yes, it was fun to pick out the similarities to the classic! Thanks for dropping by, Jenny!

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  3. This one sounds like a lot of fun! I didn't end up requesting it, but now I'm thinking that maybe I should have! Great review!

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    1. It was a lot of fun! Thanks, Christianna, and thanks for dropping by!

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  4. I didn't love the Great Gatsby but I do think some of it's theme would be really interesting when applied to a modern setting. Eager to check this out!

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    1. Yes, it really translates well to a contemporary setting. The author chose the Hamptons, which I think is perfect. Thanks for visiting, Christa!

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  5. I haven't seen many reviews for this one, but it sounds quirky and fresh - just like something I need these days. I love a book that's a good mix of scandal and romance, and the characters sound really solid, too! Sign me up! Great review, Christina :)

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    1. It's definitely quirky and fresh…well put. Yes, the scandal was pretty intriguing and I loved figuring out the similarities to the classic. Thanks for visiting, Melissa!

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  6. This sounds like so much fun! I hope I can get to it before my Netgalley copy expires!

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    1. I hope you get to read it as well. It was entertaining! Thanks for dropping by, Leanna!

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  7. I'm going to be reading this one soon, so I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it! Sometimes I can use a bit of fluffy fun reading!

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    1. Yes, it was fluffy, but definitely entertaining and fun. As far as retellings go, I enjoyed this one, which says a lot b/c many retelling just don't work for me. Thanks for visiting, Becky!

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