Book Review: Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

Rebel AngelsTitle: Rebel Angels
Author: Libba Bray
Published: 2005
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 548
From: Barnes and Noble
Rating: 9/10

The second installment of American author Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy, Rebel Angels takes on the next phase of lead character Gemma Doyle’s life in England after her mother dies in India and Gemma realizes she has supernatural abilities.

Gemma and her friends spend the Christmas holiday at home in London, attending teas and dances, and using the magic to enter the realms and try to keep everything as it was.

But, Circe, the woman looking for Gemma’s power, is causing problems, and the magic has changed since the ending of Bray’s first novel A Great and Terrible Beauty.

I really enjoyed this installment, more than the first one. I felt the character development was more pronounced, since the characters were finally allowed to develop now that the storyline has been established.

I always like finding something to constructively criticize, because I believe it helps us all look at novels and other writing analytically, but for some reason, I couldn’t find anything in this novel. Rebel Angels followed closely with the style of Bray’s debut novel, but expanded on the themes and ideas presented in it.

If there was anything I think Bray should have done differently, it would have been to use less description. I’m a sucker for description, I love reading the flowy words and imagining something otherworldly, but I also realize some amazing writing cuts out unneccesary words to allow the reader to use their imagination more.

I also noticed quite a bit that the characters kept doing the same things over and over, namely, Gemma would worry about doing something in the realms, her friends would guilt her and she’d do what they want, which ultimately always led them to some sort of disaster. You’d think that, even at the age of 16 or 17, if your friends repeatedly told you to do things that turned out to be stupid ideas, you’d stop listening to them. I feel like that was the only character flaw of Gemma’s. Maybe the flaw is meant to be there, meant to show us Gemma still doesn’t know what she wants, but she seems to be a smart character. Her choices kind of drive me nuts.

But, overall, this book is great. It captures the essence of being a teenager, full of teenage angst and drive to be out in the world living instead of at home or school learning, all the while making difficult, grown-up decisions a teenager should never have to make. It’s a relateable, sweet, suspenseful, mysterious and dark book, all tied together in one little bundle called Rebel Angels.

Check out Respiring Thought’s review of the book here. Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy, as well as her other novels such as Going Bovine, can be found in Barnes and Noble stores, as well as and other bookstores across the country.

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