Release Date: April 8th 2014
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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.
Great is a modern retelling of The Great Gatsby, one of my favourite classic novels. What I love most about The Great Gatsby is what I lovingly refer to as “Rich People Drama”. I adore the glitz and the glam, and how it disguises the dark underbelly of the city. Sara Benincasa captures this feeling perfectly, and Great sucked me in straight away.
Naomi, the main character, goes to stay with her rich and famous mother in the Hamptons, and the story begins there. She goes on to meet Jacinta, her mother’s glamourous neighbour, and becomes immediately enticed by her and her extravagant parties and outgoing personality. But soon, she starts to realise that not everything is as it seems, as Jacinta starts to use her to meet Naomi’s kind-of-friend, Delilah. So, as you can see, Naomi is our Nick, Jacinta is obviously Gatsby himself, and Delilah plays the part of Daisy. We also have a Tom Buchanan, but he’s not really important in the beginning, and I don’t like him, so I will ignore his existence.
I really enjoyed Naomi’s narration of the story. From the moment she meets Jacinta, everything changes drastically, and she gets pulled into a darker world. But, whilst enjoyable, I didn’t think Naomi was very easy to relate to. I just didn’t care enough about her to give a crap. She was also very slow to catch onto Jacinta’s lies, which was slightly frustrating for a fan of the original novel. Maybe non-fans won’t be so peeved off and impatient?
I did love how Naomi was so captivated by Jacinta, because I was too, in a way. I wanted to find out what Jacinta’s deal was, where she came from, who she really was. Jacinta was my favourite character of the bunch. She was complex, and obsessive, which are both traits that often show up on my list of favourite characters. Weird, I know. I also very much enjoyed reading about her backstory and about how she came to be Jacinta.
As you may have noticed, both the Gatsby and the Daisy of this novel are girls. So, yes, Great has a same-sex relationship going on between them, and it was fantastic. I felt a lot more sympathy towards Jacinta and Delilah than I did towards Gatsby and Daisy in the original novel, and I found myself shipping the two of them together. I didn’t like how they shut out Naomi, of course, but that’s what they were always going to do. All Jacinta wanted was to impress Delilah, and I thought it was kind of cute. And also very obsessive and weird, but still.
The ending was very exciting when the big reveal came around, although I’m a little disappointed that it didn’t go completely the way I was expecting. I’m torn between liking it, and wishing it was different. I think that the ending of Great definitely had a bigger impact than the original, but at the same time it feels almost as though what happened was thrown in for shock factor. It felt slightly less natural to me. And I’ll leave it at that, because I don’t want to spoil you all.
I would definitely recommend Great to fans of The Great Gatsby, since it’s a pretty good adaptation and I’m pleased with it. Also, if you’re into Rich People Drama like I am, definitely give this one a go. With a setting like the Hamptons, the characters riding in helicopters, giant mansions, and dirty schemes, it’s too good to pass up.