Cover Image: The Chosen and the Beautiful

The Chosen and the Beautiful

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Member Reviews

I've never read The Great Gatsby. I'm sure, therefore, that there was a LOT that I missed. However, there might be something to be said for coming to the book without any preconceived notions. I was able to picture Jordan as the author described her- as a girl who was brought from Tonkin(Vietnam) as a baby and who landed gently in a wealthy family who had access into rarified social circles. Jordan is an interesting person. She comes from a privileged class and has money of her own but is seen by many of her contemporaries as an amusing oddity or even as a sort of pet. Not someone who they necessarily want to associate with once they come of age and move into adult roles and highbrow social circles. She's still just a little bit too different.

Jordan is sort of like a stray cat. She goes from bed to bed, never really getting too close to any of the boys or girls she sleeps with, taking a bit of cachet and ins into the best parties from them and then moving on to the next. Daisy Buchanan is one of the few exceptions to this. Daisy and Jordan have remained close, because Jordan has been extremely useful to Daisy in the past and they know some of each other's secrets. Daisy needs Jordan in a way that she needs few other people, and Jordan... well, she might be more attached to Daisy than she'd like to admit.

Jordan sees no reason to be bound by conventional moral or sexual partners- the rules have never done anything for her and she's a liminal creature anyway. Because she is in but not of the society in which she moves, she sees Gatsby more clearly than anyone else. She sees his magic and his monstrousness.

In this world, by the way, there is magic. Jordan has been able to bring figures that she's cut out of paper to life, at least briefly. Demoniac, or demon blood, is drunk despite prohibition much like absinthe. And you can in fact lose your soul or bargain it away. Magic doesn't seem to play a huge role in the book but it ends up being the underpinning of quite a few relationships.

The writing in this book is gorgeous. The glittering parties and people, the sadness of those who can't quite fit but must pretend that they do, it's all touched on in a light but devastating manner. The atmosphere is like champagne bubbles just before they pop. The characters are all fascinating, too. And Nghi Vo manages to put an entirely different plot behind the plot of the book that inspired all this. I loved it.
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Amazing book! It moved me in so many different ways. Whimsical, fantastical, and richly imagined, The Chosen and The Beautiful sets the bar for Great Gatsby retellings. Nghi Vo’s other books have all been excellent, and I absolutely loved how Vo put her own unique spin on this classic tale. I would highly recommend this to all readers. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.
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This is unfortunatly the only one of Vo's book so far I didn't really got on with. Maybe because of the retelling, maybe because of the writing. I don't really know.
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The Chose and the Beautiful is a retelling of The Great Gatsby from the point of view of Jordan Baker. However, in this version, she is a queer Asian woman with the magic of paper cutting where she can create facsimiles of life. We spend far more time with Dasie and Nick in this retelling with Jay Gatsby being more of a presence on the periphery. 

I loved the new take on the novel, one of my favorites from assigned school reading. I appreciated the POV of Jordan and the creativity of the fantasy elements. Vo just keeps proving herself and is definitely among my favorite writers now.
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I’m really sad this one didn’t work for me, because I love Nghi Vo’s work usually. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m not a huge fan of The Great Gatsby, and only ever read it once, a long time ago. Perhaps it’s that I’m not familiar with the American culture surrounding The Great Gatsby — some readers from the US seem to have such strong feelings around it!

Vo’s writing is great as ever, really easy to read, but I just couldn’t quite make myself care about Gatsby or Daisy or what they were up to. Jordan Baker herself is more interesting, at least as portrayed by Vo, but so much revolves around Daisy and Gatsby. The magic and wonder is an interesting surrounding to the story, but I felt like I never got a close enough look at it.

All in all, just not one for me. Siren Queen was great, with a lot of similar worldbuilding going on, so I’m inclined to lay it at the feet of The Great Gatsby.
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As someone who has adored 'The Great Gatsby' for most of their adult life, I knew this was a book I had to get my hands on. Add in a bisexual protagonist with a hint of magic? Oh, you can bet I'm sold already.
Great for those that hated the original source material and wanted something different, and also for those that loved it and want a fresh new spin on it!
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this advanced reader's copy and the opportunity to read this early. Review has been posted on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a free advanced copy of this book to read and review.
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The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo was a pretty good book. It is a retelling of The Great Gatsby, which I believe was always a book on social commentary, though this retelling works in many of the issues we are more aware of today. It features a great deal of representation. I think the reviews on it were mixed in part because some folks were not as familiar with the source material, and some who were did not like how much this one matched the original. Overall, I personally would recommend this book.
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This is a retelling of The Great Gatsby. But with sorcery - mostly demonic. And a female narrator, Vietnamese but raised in early 20th century America, who is a sort of love interest for Nick Carraway. And a whole lot of bisexuality and LGBTQ+ themes not prominent in the original. So it's the Great Gatsby, but really, REALLY not. It was amazingly well written.
Full review on YouTube.
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This was the retelling of Gatsby nobody asked for. Told from Jordan Baker's perspective, the story does not delve into any new territory. It just adds more sex and all the characters are bisexual. And to that I say, who cares? I'll stick with the original. The author tries to mimic the flowery language of Fitzgerald, and that just doesn't work. Pass on this one.
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A beautiful retelling of The Great Gatsby by Nghi Vo. With a heavy and decadent atmosphere, this book is filled with such beautiful and lush writing and is definitely a book I won't forget. I do however wish that it was longer and focused more on Jordan herself and less focused on her observing the other characters. Overall though this was an amazing book and it cements Nghi Vo as one of my auto-buy authors.
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to be honest with you, i'm not quite sure what i just read.

yes, this was a gatsby retelling (perhaps too faithful at times?). yes, jordan baker is our narrator - an immigrant from vietnam, a hedonistic queer socialite, a magician who can work enchantment with paper and scissors.

but to my disappointment, the chosen and the beautiful was not more than the sum of its constituent parts.

the story remained stubbornly, frustratingly hazy for me. throughout its entirety, i was overwhelmed with the sense that i was missing some bigger picture or deeper meaning. instead of beguiled, however, i just felt confused and let down. this story is as indolent, meandering, and self-indulgent as its narrator. i wish we'd gotten more descriptions and scenes featuring jordan's paper magic, as well as other non-canon (and non-white) characters such as khai. and i wish there'd been more queerness, period!

i realize now that i was hoping not only for a retelling but a revival, a story that would breathe queer, BIPOC, magic-tinted vitality into the original premise; that didn’t exactly happen, not for me personally, at least.

yet cutting through my disappointment was a deep appreciation for the lyricism and vividness of nghi vo's precise prose - the same evocative writing that ensnared me in the empress of salt and fortune.

the chosen and the beautiful was not for me, but i am excited to read vo's future works!



thank you netgalley and macmillan-tor/forge for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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Dark and lyrical are the two words that first come to mind when I think about The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo.  I was intrigued about this being a retelling of The Great Gatsby but from the eyes and perspective of Jordan.  While it isn't 100% necessary to read The Great Gatsby first, doing so will certainly help the reader understand the story a bit better, and bring a fullness to the story that would be otherwise lost.  The author gets points for making Jordan an Asian-American Queer character, which adds some depth to the story, but loses points for the largely unexplored magic elements that really didn't add anything to the story.

While it wasn't a bad book and was wonderfully descriptive, it felt like less of its own story than I was expecting.
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The Chosen and the Beautiful is a retelling of The Great Gatsby, with a queer Asian-American character in the leading role. Nghi Vo's writing is beautiful, as always, but there are some moments where the book felt flat to me. Overall, it was a solid full-length novel debut and I can't wait to read more of her books.
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Not gonna lie, I had rather high expectations regarding this book. This retelling is almost point for point from the original storyline with some slight key differences. The parties though, are definitely a spectacular sight to explore and feel through. I just wished there were more elements that were explored and explained upon in the book (Jordan's ability, the magic system, maybe even forking off from the original stance and story of the Great Gatsby and blooming into something else, something vastly different.)

Overall, somewhat ravishing and delightful, it still didn't quite quench that thirst and curiosity I had prior before heading into the book.
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A wonderful retelling of The Great Gatsby. As a fan of the classic, I found myself lost in the story, albeit familiar at times, completely new. Her style is lyrical, whimsical, and dream-like which I think really pairs well with the 1920s, jazz era, extravagance. A wonderful comparison to the classic that could be used in English classes.
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Nghi Vo did a great job with The Chosen and the Beautiful. It's a magnificent The Great Gatsby retelling. I wish I could read this again like first time.
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This Great Gatsby retelling imagines the story from the perspective of a queer, Asian, adopted Jordan Baker with a touch of magic. It has all the iconic glamour you would expect, with a fantastical, feminist, antiracist twist that I completely loved. Nghi Vo invokes the atmospheric prose of F. Scott Fitzgerald while changing the perspective in a way that I found far more compelling than the original. Whether or not you loved Great Gatsby, this book is an engaging and surprising story that will take you on a thrilling adventure.
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The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo is a book marketed as a retelling of the Great Gatsby, but it was truly so much more than that. 

This book was honestly too smart for me, like a fantasy Black Mirror episode brought to life in the pages of a book. The magical elements around the parties and Gatsby did not harmonize with the magic we see the MC develop and explore in secret. The world building was both mesmerizing and confusing and I would have loved to learn more about demoniac and paper magic and the HUGE reveal at the end but it was probably too much to look for in a stand-alone retelling. The author tried to remain true to the original but honestly, I would’ve loved a spin-off or exploration of the fantastic magical world she built without the heavy-handed overlaying of Fitzgeralds storytelling. 

However, the hollowness that the original leaves a reader feeling about the emptiness and sadness and hollowness of the times, the parties, and the wealthy, was also present in Vo’s own unnerving ending. The MC’s own tale ending in a revelation so somber, a future crumbling in her hands and the realization that the only real connection she ever had was to her magic, absolutely had the same feeling as the original did. 

Overall I was intrigued as much as I was confused by the plot and forlorn for the characters fates and I would absolutely read another book about this world or this magic system. 

Thank you NetGalley for the arc!
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