Dark and Surreal – Great by Sara Benincasa

Posted 31 March, 2014 by Danny in Blog, Danny, Danny's Book Review / 4 Comments

Dark and Surreal – Great by Sara BenincasaGreat by Sara Benincasa
Published by Harper Collins, Harper Teen, HarperCollins on 2014-04-08
Genres: Contemporary, Friendship, Girls & Women, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
3.5 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

A Retelling of The Great Gatsby, with a contemporary setting among the rich and famous during a summer in The Hamptons?  Yeah – let it come!!

Normal Life – Yet Summers among the rich and famous!

Noami usually lives with her dead having anormal life. The summers however she spends with her mom, who is a super rich TV cook. I imeadiately loved Naomi as she was not impressed by  her moms money, nor did the rich and famous impress her. Naomi was just a normal girl, who wanted friends and a true loving mom, not the fake loving one her mother usually played.  I loved Naomi’s character, as she felt incredibly strong and real for me.

Dark, surreal and  a comic like satire

What I didn’t expect was the tone and turn of the story into a comic like surreal satire. The surreal feeling when we meet Jacinda was truly unexpected, but once I got used to it, it was easy to go with the flow and just let it work its charms on me. Jacinda is major part in the story and was both surreal, comical but also very tragic. Jacinda was bubbly, extravagant and totally out of context.  It felt like she could do anything, has no limits.

But there was something very tragic around her and we only realized this slowly during the progress of the story.

Money, Love, Friendship and where do we belong?

How much can money buy? Can it by love and friendship? Major aspects dealt with these kind of questions.

There was some romance, yet it didn’t go in the direction I was hoping for. I was happy seeing Naomi falling in love besides all her judgment of rich-people and that she found a boy she liked easily. What I didn’t like was the direction his character was going towards the end of the book. In this story it felt like all rich and wealthy people come with a bad character and cannot help themselves but judge poorer people. I would have loved to see that there are also wonderful and nice people among the rich and famous, but the overall story made us believe they are all corrupted. Which I cannot belive. Money per se doesn’t make you a bad person. I would have loved to see this romance develop more and make Noami open her eyes and see that each person has their own flaws, not matter how much money!

Then the end… I think my biggest problem was the end. As I said just above about the romance, the ending was not how I would have liked to see it end. I was hoping for just a little more for Naomi, which sadly didn’t came.

Bewitched Rating


Bottom Line

Great by Sara Benincasa was a dark and very surreal satire that comes with a truly wonderful, strong main character.  Corruption, poor judgmental characters and our down-to-earth heroine among them, trying to find a place.



I admit, I have never read The Great Gatsby so I can’t say anything about the re-telling aspect. Have you read it? Are you excited about Great?

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4 Responses to “Dark and Surreal – Great by Sara Benincasa”

  1. I’ve seen some mixed reviews for Great, but I still really want to read it! I love the whole story and theme of The Great Gatsby (even if I don’t like the narrator), so I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy Great.

    Plus, that cover model’s makeup. I need a tutorial!

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