Cover Image: The Chosen and the Beautiful

The Chosen and the Beautiful

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This works best, I think, if folks have recently read The Great Gatsby and can recognize how Vo's novel works as a companion to that piece. Vo's other work also has a whimsy and inventiveness that I found missing here.
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A stunningly gorgeous Great Gatsby retelling! I loved the magical realism intertwined with the politics and culture of the 1920s. The writing was so dreamy and vibrant. This version of Jordan Baker makes for a much more nuanced and interesting character study, as Nghi Vo rewrote Jordan to be a Queer, Asian American adoptee and I think changing the details such as that provides a viewpoint that we would never have gotten from F. Scott's Gatsby.
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The Chosen and the Beautiful is a beautifully written reimagined version of The Great Gatsby which I really enjoyed. This book is magic and the setting was wonderful. I really loved how the characters were portrayed and how the story was written. There really isn't anything to complain about it. I think it was put together very nicely and I enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend it!
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A magical, supernatural reimagining of The Great Gatsby from the perspective of Jordan Baker. I really enjoyed the underworld, supernatural elements like the demon's blood drink, "demoniac." But I've never been a fan of The Great Gatsby, and, maybe because of that, I felt the story would've been better for not trying to follow the original and just standing on its own. To be fair, that probably also means this book just wasn't for me. I imagine fans of The Great Gatsby will really love this one.
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If you’d like to see original the great Gatsby this is a really nicely done retelling overall would recommend this one
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A fresh new take on a beloved classic, the Chosen and the Beautiful follows Jordan Baker, a queer Vietnamese immigrant, as she navigates the dazzling society of the 1920's. It is a coming of age story filled with magic, mystery, and exclusive parties. With its rich prose and beautiful imagery, this is the perfect read for fans of the original source material, The Great Gatsby, and new readers alike.
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Thank you for the ARC! This book really intrigues me. I haven't finished it yet, but so far I am loving the voice and tone. The style of writing is very similar to the Great Gatsby with its formality and sense of remove. It seems like Nghi Vo is doing a great job both evoking and building upon the classic novel in new and exciting ways. I will be recommending that my book club read it!
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Big disappointment. 
This was less a reimagining, more of a continuation with a dust of magic. Very slow paced. I wanted to know more about the paper cutting and Jordan's search for her identity.
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Thank you Netgalley, Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tordotcom and Nghi Vo for free e-ARC in return of my honest review. 

Being a fun of The Great Gatsby, I am always on the look out for a books that offer  storylines for the characters or alternative plots. The Chosen And The Beautiful was definitely an interesting and intriguing in terms of other life events of Daisy. 

I did enjoy the plot  - it was unique and quite unpredictable. However, I think that the story was more about characters. Jordan Baker is queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her. She has all what her peers have - money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age - and still she is an outcast. The contrast of Jordan Baker from Fitzgerald's story and a new Jo Baker is fascinating. I definitely prefer the new version of her, it gives a new perception of the old tale. 

Looking forward for new work from Nghi Vo.
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It's not often that I get to sit down and write a review right after finishing a book these days because of my busy schedule and because I normally need around a week to ruminate and really think about what I want to say. But I finished The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo earlier today and I have some thoughts.

I would like to preface this review by saying that I am not the biggest fan of The Great Gatsby story. You may be wondering, then, why I picked up a The Great Gatsby retelling–let me explain. I do enjoy the time period in which The Great Gatsby is set and I also really enjoyed the visuals and aesthetic in the 2013t movie adaptation but the story itself…does not bring me joy. I won't elaborate on that, in case any of you reading this review don't know what happens in The Great Gatsby and I don't want to ruin things for you if you're still planning on reading or watching it (and it will also affect how you experience The Chosen and the Beautiful if you haven’t read it yet) so I will stop there.

Again, you're probably wondering why I picked up The Chosen and the Beautiful. I already touched on one aspect of The Great Gatsby that I do enjoy–the time period in which it is set. I also like the idea that this was a diverse retelling done by an own voices author. Also and I don't feel like I need to pointed out but I'm going to anyway–the cover is absolutely glorious.

I always felt that the story of The Great Gatsby was missing something…something I could never quite put my finger on. And before starting The Chosen and the Beautiful, I was hoping that this Nghi Vo would rectify that for me somehow.

Diving into The Chosen and the Beautiful I first noticed that I really liked the writing. It was evocative and descriptive and really pulled me into the story. It’s written from the perspective of the main character Jordan Baker who in this rendition is Vietnamese. It was really interesting to read how Jordan navigated 1920s New York as someone who was a part of a visible minority that was discriminated against quite a bit in that time (not that much has changed decades later). Making the story all the more multifaceted is the fact that Jordan was adopted by a wealthy white family and therefore ran in circles that many Vietnamese immigrants would not have access to in the same way. Her worldview and experiences were wholly unique to her, and it was really fascinating to read about.

I also liked the LGBTQ+ aspects of The Chosen and the Beautiful and how it shed some light of on what it might've been like to be LGBTQ+ in the 1920s. While this aspect of the story was not the centre of it (or even a very prominent) part of the story, I think that it still added all the more depth and substance that the original Gatsby story was lacking (for me).

As I made my way further into the book, despite all of the above, I found that the first half of the book intrigued me but didn't quite capture my attention the way that I had hoped. That said I continued reading, curious to see how Nghi Vo’s retelling would unfold, develop, and wrap itself back up again. (And I'm so very glad that I did, because the story did hook my attention after the midway point and the wait was definitely worth it.)

So as to respect your own experience with this book and to not give anything away I won't go into detail about what exactly it was at the midway point that got me (end it might not even apply to your own reading experience anyway) but I can't say that I really thoroughly enjoyed this retelling and that I will be recommending it to those who are established fans of The Great Gatsby, as well as those who might might not be the biggest fans (like myself), and even those who have no opinion one way or the other. I think that there’s something in The Chosen and the Beautiful for everyone. And personally, and without giving anything away, I found that it did provide the pieces that I was missing in the original story, so I was quite satisfied!
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This book was so weird and dark and messy and beautiful. I am a huge lover of Gatsby, and I was surprised to learn that the general beats of the plot remained the same, but the characters were much more lush and fleshed out. 

Jordan has intrigued me since my very first read of Gatsby and I loved this iteration of her. She was incredibly flawed, as all of the characters are, but so self aware. I also really loved Nick in this book. He just felt so much more complex than he did in the original story.

The relationships were all so messy and I loved it. Everyone loved everyone, everyone was sleeping with everyone, and I really enjoyed seeing how all of those dynamics fit together. I liked how Jordan and Nick kind of mirrored each other when it came to the relationships. 

Nghi Vo writes the most beautiful prose and I immediately fell in love upon picking the book up. It had the same lyrical quality as Gatsby, but more. One of the things I did struggle with wasn’t so much the pacing, but how the story was told. It was very much a case of “This happened, then this happened, then this happened,” and that made it drag for me.

I would have liked to have seen the fantasy elements explored a bit more. They were almost too vague for me, but I did enjoy what was there. 

I will say, I do think you might not enjoy this book as much if you aren’t familiar with the original story. There are a ton of easter eggs and quotes that I loved coming across, and it really does follow the original plot. Even watching the movie beforehand would make for a better reading experience, I think.

Content warnings: Racism, abortion, death, drugs/alcohol, violence, graphic car accident, homophobia, cheating, abuse.
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The Chosen and the Beautiful is more than just a retelling, it's the exact same story, from a different perspective, with the most minimal magic moments tossed in. It's The Great Gatsby from Jordan Baker's perspective is, of course, a magical concept, but mix some fantasy into it? Sign me up. With the same languid writing style and absolutely gorgeous, flowy description, Nghi Vo rewrites the historical novel with some demonic blood, commentary on race, and my favorite aspect, a queer story that fans of The Great Gatsby, like myself, have believed to be there all along.

Unfortunately, as a massive fan of TGG, while I didn't mind an exact retelling, I really wanted it to go other places. I wanted it to be explored further. I loved the look into race and class, especially from the perspective of a Vietnamese American female, but the magic felt absolutely like a second thought and even Jordan herself doesn't feel like the main character in her own story. Vo does excellent with keeping consistent to Fitzgerald's style, but in the end The Chosen and the Beautiful feels so much like the original that all the additions are easily forgotten. I needed it to be fleshed out a bit more.
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well... i'm kind of conflicted about this one ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I went into The Chosen and the Beautiful with extremely high expectations after hearing great things about Nghi Vo's beautiful writing but this book was a pretty big miss for me because I literally couldn't understand what was going on in the book most of the time because of the writing. Don't get me wrong, the story by itself is a wonderful idea. I mean a queer Asian retelling of The Great Gatsby sounds like everything one needs but the writing simply made me not enjoy this book at all.

This book follows Jordan Baker, an adopted queer Asian living in the extravagant American society with everything she needs but she's always being exoticized for her Vietnamese looks. Through Jordan's lens we follow her adventures as she tackles several obstacles.

-One the reasons due to which I might not have liked The Chosen and the Beautiful as much must be because I never read The Great Gatsby! Picking this one up without reading the book it was based off was probably not the best idea but from what I've heard, this book strictly stuck with the original story and didn't really put a twist on it.
-Jordan was a pretty good character to follow but again, it was the writing which made everything so much more unlikeable. Maybe I'm too dumb for this book or just it's way too high up of a reading level for me.
-Overall, I would recommend this one with caution to the people who enjoy extremely wordy and complicated prose (aka people who aren't like me).

Content warnings: Murder, domestic abuse, racism (including internalized), drinking, abortion.

I received an arc from Tor books via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This did not impact my review or thoughts in any way
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As a queer woman who loves The Great Gatsby I was looking forward to this book for months and when I finally got the chance to read it I was captivated from the very beginning!The characters in this novel felt so fleshed out and the writing is flowery in the best way possible. I can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Nghi Vo transports the reader to 1920s New York, lulled in by lush, melodic prose and the promise of power, magic found in money and infernal deals – in the fine powder of broken antique charms and drops of Demoniac: demon’s blood, often mixed with high class cocktails. Demoniac shows itself in dilated eyes and a sickly-sweet scent upon the breath, power hierarchy made obvious by a single black nail, but there’s more to the exorbitant atmosphere than floating – from sitting room to sitting room, party to party (however lush and extravagant they may be). Magic lurks in intricately cut paper, mesmerizing and beautiful, charred ashes and burnt embers leaving marks oft unnoticed, but powerful nonetheless, capable of enchanting, entrancing, being.

Enter Jordan Baker: a pro tennis socialite passing on the fringes of society, accepted but questioned – a queer Vietnamese American that acknowledges her status, both as a woman and an immigrant, the orphaned child of the wealthy Louisville Bakers, “rescued” from Tonkin as a child and whisked away to be pretty. The trajectory of the novel is a familiar one, a faithful retelling, re-imagining The Great Gatsby by turning the opulence of the roaring 20s into a magical affair of another sort – one that follows the astute and enchanting Jordan Baker while simultaneously examining racism, classism and sexism, not only as it pertains to the era, but the modern age.

In Jordan, Vo flits through the years, memories of kissing girls and boys, meeting Gatsby, and moving through Louisville with Daisy at her side juxtaposed against the present, sensual trysts with Nick Carraway, illuminating nights at Jay Gatsby’s mysterious mansion, and Daisy, still by her side, yet infatuated with the very idea of her former lover. What unfolds is a tangled, yet mesmerizing web of ups and downs, Jordan at the center, busying herself, learning to fit in, to be free, but a tinge of unsatisfaction remains. Adventurous and flighty, Jordan is a force to be reckoned with, whisking the reader away, enchanting them with New York’s hidden sights – Lyric, a speakeasy that can only be found if one takes the subway the wrong way, three times; Cendrillon, a luxurious club that bars entry depending on the day, on the clothes you wear, on the flower that adorns your person, that, if found wanting, leaves you with entrance to a shabby theatre instead; and, of course, Gatsby’s ever-changing mansion, new rooms popping up overnight, time a thing of the past.

Drawing from the source material in a way that feels familiar, Vo reinvents it with simple magic, naturally flowing between the pages, a living, breathing entity that shows itself in imps, ghosts, changelings, intricately cut paper brought to life, breathing history and tradition, and in the obvious – demoniac and the infernal, souls whisked away for a single black fingernail and a connection to hell itself. Laced with longing – to be remembered, to belong, to love – Vo finds her stride in Jordan in a positively striking debut that explores powerful women and naïve men, challenging old worldviews with smart quips and clever commentary, all while building a world from the ground up with gorgeous prose and unforgettable romantic affairs. A must read that is accessible – and perhaps even better – for those unfamiliar (or out of touch with) with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic.
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tw: racism (casual and direct), violence, infidelity, plus any trigger warnings you can think of that are relevant to the Great Gatsby. 

I finished this on the banks of a TVA lake, drinking a gallon of water in the heat, and could not feel more removed from the glitz and horror of Jordan Bakers life. It’s a stunning book, absolutely gorgeous, and one that I think will likely come down as one of my favorite books of 2021
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The Chosen and the beautiful is a retelling of one of my favorite novels The Great Gatsby. The book is narrated from the point of view of the enigmatic Jordan Baker. In the novel, Nghi Vo kept Jordan's narration consistent with Fitzgerald's masterpiece but adding a unique twist to it.
 I must say that I really liked the book, it is atmospheric and lyrical but I found that adding magic to the plot was very random and unnecessary and did not compose anything to the main story. Despite having said that, I was glad that we were able to appreciate the lives of Daisy and Jordan since they were young and see from another point of view the events that led to that horrible fall day in West Egg.
Thank you so much to Netgalley and Macmillan -Tor/Forge for this Arc in exchange for an honest review.
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tldr: Wow.

When Nghi Vo released her first novella, Empress of Salt and Fortune, I was blown away by her talent at the task category “putting a book together.” I know that’s a very unsexy way to describe a novella, but it applies! Empress packed so much plot, emotional insight, and character development into its 128 pages that it felt like an apotheosis of the novella form. (My use here of apotheosis will be but the first of many hyperbolic shrieks throughout this review, because I’m about as bullish on Nghi Vo’s writing as I have been about any author in I don’t know how long. BRACE YOURSELF; and know in advance that I am not even slightly sorry.)

Now there is The Chosen and the Beautiful. As I launch into what isn’t so much a review as it is a praise hymn, I feel that I should first specify that I quite like The Great Gatsby. I liked it when I read it in high school, despite having little to no interest in any of the other writers from this era that we had to read in school. (I liked some of Ezra Pound’s poetry, but it turns out that he is, unfortunately, a fascist.) More recently when I was doing my project of rereading books I owned by white men to see if they still worked for me (three did not; two did, ish), I still liked The Great Gatsby. It’s true that my interest in rich whites dicking each other around is limited, but what can I say? Fitzgerald is a good writer! So that’s my background vis-a-vis The Great Gatsby, of which The Chosen and the Beautiful is a queer, immigrant, fantasy retelling.

Having read The Chosen and the Beautiful, I do not see any reason that I would ever need to read The Great Gatsby again.

Honestly? I don’t see a reason that anyone will ever need to read The Great Gatsby again, except as a companion piece if you are trying to understand and analyze The Chosen and the Beautiful more fully. The Chosen and the Beautiful so monumentally captures the spirit of Gatsby (not surprising, given that we too are survivors of forever-war and worldwide plague) while attending to its failings that it truly feels not like an homage, but like a successor. If original-flavor The Great Gatsby was the book the world needed then, The Chosen and the Beautiful is the version we need now.

It centers Jordan Baker (remember her? Nick’s louche tennis-playing love interest?), who in this telling is a queer Vietnamese American adoptee conditionally accepted into the ranks of the rich and gorgeous. She’s friends with Daisy, makes friends with Nick, and is recruited by Gatsby to help forward his cause with Daisy — a thing Jordan is not particularly inclined to do. Like Nick in the original Gatsby, but perhaps even more so because she’s more of an outsider, Jordan observes everything around her, making her own judgments and trying to preserve her own sense that she can easily extricate herself from this world she loves and despises. As Daisy and Gatsby stagger through their doomed summer love affair, Jordan is making discoveries of her own, about her magic, her heritage, and the path that brought her to America in the first place.

If I started quoting every piece of beautiful writing in The Chosen and the Beautiful, we’d be here all day, so I will just kick it to this tweet instead:

In addition to being a near-perfect prose stylist, no offense to other writers, Nghi Vo has also included an amount of magic that is exactly correct. I am qualified to determine this because I:

    have read a number of books with magic in;
    am judgmental about all sorts of things, not just amounts of magic in books; and
    absolutely definitely don’t have any kind of hidden agenda about making Nghi Vo the most powerful and respected writer in all the land

Demons exist in this world, and Gatsby has very probably sold his soul to one in exchange for the chance to win back Daisy Fay. At his parties, they sip demoniac (made from demon’s blood) as well as champagne. Perhaps more viscerally, Jordan has a talent that seems to come from her Vietnamese family, though her adoption into a white family has ensured that she was never taught its parameters or how best to use it. No part of this book isn’t perfect, but the perfectest part is the magic-related revelation at the very end of the book. Like everything else, it’s wry and understated; but the implications of what it means for [Redacted] are devastating, and the implications for Jordan herself will slam into you like a freight train.

The Chosen and the Beautiful shines in every possible way. It doesn’t just excel as a retelling in its own right; it also illuminated for me what I want out of all retellings. I want them to tell me something new about the old story — something magical and special and important, something I hadn’t thought about before. Nghi Vo is telling us something new about The Great Gatsby on every page. tldr: Wow.

Note: I received an electronic ARC of this book from the publisher, via Netgalley. If publishers could cause me to love books this much simply by providing me with an ARC, I would presume that like Gatsby they had done a deal with a nefarious power. So I am pretty sure the book’s just very fucking good.
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“The Chosen and the Beautiful” deserves to be read as closely as the book that inspired it. Vo’s prose is beautifully supple, and the novel shines when she reads “Gatsby” against the grain: The first page transforms one of Fitzgerald’s metaphors about women in summer into a captivating intimacy between Jordan and Daisy, and the whole of Chapter 4 is a stunning play on Fitzgerald’s use of the word “careless.” The novel falters, though, when integrating fantasy more generally: It’s such a tight reversal of its original’s core dynamics that there isn’t room for the fantastic elements to do more than gild the story’s lily. They only echo, diminished and indistinct, the tensions Vo’s already playing with to good effect, obstructing each other where they should blend, like a cocktail made with fine spirits but mixed in awkward proportions. Despite that, the book remains a sumptuous, decadent read.
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 "there was a monstrous want there, remorseless and relentless, and it made my stomach turn that it thought itself love."

This was an emotional,intense and atmospheric story!I really enjoyed the writing . The Chosen and The Beautiful is a retelling of The Great Gatsby told from the perspective of Jordan Baker, I'm ashamed to say that haven't read or watched The Great Gatsby so it was all new for me.

In this story you'll find important themes like identify , and that their voices matters.

"I wondered if that was what love was, making someone forget the pain that gnawed at them and would not stop."
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