Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Great

Great - Sara Benincasa See more of my reviews on Birth of a New Witch!! My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher via Edelweiss.Zero stars. I just can't... Maaaaaybe this can be a September Girls deal in which one person sees criticism of sexism, personal prejudices, and how women are conditioned to treat one another and another sees unquestioned support for those very things. But that's not how it comes across to me.OUR HEROINENaomi damn near kills her own book. She's judgmental, shallow, narrow-minded, and when I try to come up with positive qualities just to show you she might be able to balance her more negative qualities out, I can't name a single one. The bad overpowers the good. Combined with how poorly developed she is, it's practically a death sentence for her and her book.Some quotes that demonstrate exactly what kind of person she is:I’m a Chicagoan through and through, which means I instinctively shed clothes (not in a whorish way) every time the temperature passes sixty degrees. So my feet get a little more sun. So what (ARC, 21%)?And besides, I’d planned to spend the day studying my SAT book and doing a practice test, which takes a few hours. I know that sounds incredibly lame, but (and this sounds even lamer) I’ve wanted to go to Harvard since I was a little kid and saw Legally Blonde, which is the sort of guilty-pleasure movie you wouldn’t think a nerd like me would like, except that it is perfect, and makes me wish the Beasts at our school were anywhere near as kind and awesome as Elle Woods. The unfortunate reality is that beautiful blond popular girls usually are superficial bitches, and not good-hearted humanitarians like Elle (ARC, 23%).Different tribe or not, Delilah Fairweather was exactly the sort of person you want to think you’re “just lovely”—not that I’d ever admit that to any of my friends back home, where we called the popular, beautiful girls the Beasts. Skags swore that one of the Beasts, Jenny Carpenter, was completely in love with her, but I was pretty sure that was a delusion (ARC, 8%)."Did she look fat?" I asked evilly.“Dude! No. I mean, her boobs looked big, but they always look big.”“Gross.”“Deal with it. Anyway, it was pretty obvious she wanted me to know she was single, because she’s completely into me.”“Double gross (ARC, 25%).” “It is a huge deal,” Ainsley said urgently, grabbing Jeff’s arm for emphasis and shaking it. I looked at her hand on his bicep and instantly hated her (ARC, 38%)“Pool party!” one of them shrieked, stripping down to her underthings and jumping in the river pool, which was illuminated from below by lights. Then the Fitzwilliams sisters, seemingly even drunker than before, took off everything and splashed down, followed by the delighted Stetler brothers. The crowd roared its approval, clapping and hooting and whistling, while the fireworks concluded overhead and the band on the deck struck up another jaunty tune. More girls and guys followed suit, some jumping in fully clothed, some in their underclothes, and a few more girls completely naked. I hate girls who do stuff like that just for attention (ARC, 40%). This girl was short and curvy, with breasts so large that they almost appeared aggressive in their need for attention[...] (ARC, 58%).“With Jenny Carpenter? Only, like, eighteen thousand things.”“Well, she’s actually very smart and interesting,” Skags said primly. “There’s a lot going on underneath the surface there.”“Skags,” I said. “She’s a cheerleader (ARC, 71%).”Now think about the sexism, homophobia (because when someone brings up how they feel about someone of the same sex, her reply is usually "gross"), and such she just displayed as you read these next quotes:Our waitress approached the table. She had dyed blond hair pulled into a high ponytail. Her skin was tan in that orange way, and her French manicure was studded with tiny rhinestones. She was prettyish, with a big chest and a perfect teen girl body. Skags, who is more judgmental than I am when it comes to women’s looks, would’ve said she had a major case of butter face. (Everything is pretty. . . but her face (ARC, 16%).)“Let’s go down to the carnival,” I suggested. “I want to check out the food tents.”“Oh, you just want me to win you a stuffed animal,” Jeff said.“I’m a feminist, Jeffrey. I will win my own stuffed animal.”“Do feminists ever ride Ferris wheels with men they’ve just met?”“Feminists do whatever they want. That means I’ll see how I feel after I get some grilled lobster in me (ARC, 37%).”"As an ally member of our school's LGBTQ group[...] (ARC, 74%).(Emphasis mine on all.)Based on all that, I have a hard time believing she's a feminist or much of an LGBTQ ally. Skags is actually a lot less judgmental than Naomi and that Naomi wants to paint her best friend as the more judgmental one when she's not? Methinks that's not a good way to treat one's best friend. That quote comes before they start fighting.EVERYTHING ELSEI've never read The Great Gatsby, but based on what I've heard about it, Benincasa really manages to stay true to the events of the novel and nail the decadent atmosphere. None of the side characters seem entirely fleshed out to me, but the few who were offensive were purposefully so in a way I was able to accept. Were it not for Naomi's vile attitude making me have to drop the book temporarily before I hurt my poor Nook, this would have been a quick, fun read. This really is a case of our narrator and how she relates the story killing her own book so thoroughly that I'm unable to appreciate what little is done right.