The Chosen and the Beautiful Review

Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society—she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her. But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.

I honestly didn’t realise this was a Great Gatsby retelling. I have read Nghi Vo’s novella’s and when I seen she had a new full length novel I knew I had to read it without even researching anything about it. Unfortunately the plot of the Great Gatsby just doesn’t really interest me all that much. I can appreciate how beloved the book is and how much of a classic it has now become, but it just doesn’t do anything for me personally.

I liked Jordan’s character. She has this carelessness and frivolity about her that is engaging. She is very frank and at times callous with her words which was entertaining and refreshing in the midst of the plot and the very proper way people spoke to each other back in the 20’s. Even though she is very much apart of the upper echelon of the wealthy she does still at times feels different and ostracised because of her appearance and ethnicity which added that layer of depth and realness to the plot.

The twist with the magic and powers that Jordan has was interesting. At first I didn’t quite understand what was happening and whether or not what she could do was real or if she was hallucinating it or something. I would of appreciated if we could of learnt more about how these paper cut-outs work and what brings them to life and how it differs from what Khai is able to do. That whole plotline just somehow felt unfinished and I was left wanting to know more about it.

Nghi Vo’s prose is beautifully descriptive and lyrical. There is this fantastical element to her writing that mixes so well with a realistic setting. That alone really was able to carry me through this book and allow me to finish it in one sitting. Historical fiction isn’t my chosen genre at all and it kind of bores me but those added whimsical touches to the plot perked the story up for sure!

⭐️3/5 stars This was beautifully written, just didn’t dazzle me.

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