Review: Great by Sara Benincasa

Book Title: Great
Author: Sara Benincasa
Release Date: April 8th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA/Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

In high school we had to read the Great Gatsby for English class (I think it was Sophomore English but I’m not 100% sure) I loved it. I gobbled it up in two days while the rest of the class grudgingly read the assigned chapters for two weeks. I loved reading the book and anytime I heard someone complaining about it, I got annoyed. Obviously, I also know that a movie adaptation was made. I did not go see it because I was certain that it was going to be a poor adaptation of the book.

So when Great became available via Edelweiss awhile back, I was excited but anxious. The idea of retelling a classic terrified me because I loved the classic so much and I wasn’t sure how the retelling would live up to it.

Well I didn’t need to be concerned. It was a very well done retelling of The Great Gatsby. The opulence was there with Jacinta’s parties and her outfits, not to mention the location of the story, most of it taking place in the East Hamptons. That screams money & opulence right there. I was also really excited to see that there was an LGBT element in the book. That was an awesome surprise and I kinda cheered when I got to that point. YAY for more LGBT characters in YA.

I am really not sure how I felt about Jacinta. My feelings about her kinda flip-flopped throughout the entire book. That was frustrating to me as I never knew how I would feel about her from one page to the next. When secrets about her are revealed, I did feel empathy for her and that’s when I started to have positive feelings about her and towards her.

Delilah was interesting. I couldn’t quite figure out if she was a good person or if she was just trying to use both Naomi & Jacinta at times. I don’t feel like I got to know her as well as I wanted to.

Naomi was a fun character. She clearly was nothing like her mom.She wasn’t into the fashion, she cared about other people and she was there for her friends and family when they needed her. I didn’t understand her choice of “boyfriend” while she was visiting her mother. I put the term boyfriend in quotation marks because it seemed like all they did was make out.I never really warmed up to the guy, but Naomi I loved.

One character I wish I had seen more of was Skaggs. She was woefully absent from the book, but when she did appear, she was awesome. She was the one to tell Naomi that she was basically being a bad friend to Skaggs because Naomi had become so involved in her life in the East Hamptons that she seemed to forget about Skaggs.

The ending was heartbreaking and even though I knew something incredibly sad was coming, it was still hard to read it. That’s where tears nearly fell. The ending. I was genuinely happy with how it ended though. It remained very loyal to the original which thrilled me.

The beginning was on the slow side and it took me a little while to really get into the story. Even as I was pulled into the world, there were still times were the pace had slowed down a bit too much and I found myself bored. Also I wanted a bit more character development for Delilah. It didn’t feel like I knew her as well as I knew Jacinta & Naomi which bummed me out a little bit. 

I am giving this book 4 stars because overall, I would recommend this book because it was a good, fun read and the resemblance to The Great Gatsby was uncanny.