YMMV / Gemma Doyle

  • Death of the Author: A theory Libba Bray seems to fully espouse, often answering questions with "that is open to interpretation" or giving her idea but adding other people may see it differently. According to her, "It will be YOUR job to assign futures to Gemma and her friends, to imagine what roads they travel, what adventures they might have next, whether they find love and success and contentment, and if they do, to imagine what forms that happiness takes."
  • Funny Moments: Several of Gemma's snarky inner monologues, and translations of what people say to what they actually mean.
  • Les Yay: There's already canon lesbianism, but given that most of the major characters are female (and often really good friends with each other), there's no way these books wouldn't be rife with this. Name two female characters, any two female characters, and you can probably make a pretty good argument for it, especially if Gemma is involved.
    • Not to mention the part in the first book after the girls get drunk for the first time. Felicity seemed really happy to show Ann how to "be intimate", complete with pulling one of the sleeves of her dress down to the point of seeing her... cleavage.
    • This is also used in-universe: when reading about Mary and Sarah, the girls immediately wonder if their unusually close friendship is actually a cover for them being "Sapphists" (lesbians).
  • Moment of Awesome: Bare minimum, three per book. As a conservative estimate.
    • In The Sweet Far Thing, Gemma finally confronts the Rakshana when they threaten to kill her brother. She quickly demonstrates what a bad idea this is.
    • In Rebel Angels, Gemma & Co. are cornered by the Poppy Warriors, and the leader is teasing Felicity about her father raping her as a child in attempt to torment her into suicide. Not only does Felicity not give in, she shoots him through the throat, facilitating their escape, and later shows signs of beginning to overcome her shame and guilt and accept that she is not to blame for what happened to her.
    "He shouldn't have said those things to me," she says in great hiccuping cries. "He shouldn't have said them."
    It takes me a moment to realize that she is talking about Azrael and what happened in the catacombs. I think of her standing on that rock, piercing our tormentor with her arrow. "You mustn't be sorry for what you did."
    She looks into my face, her sobs subsiding to a cold, tearless fury. She hoists the nearly empty quiver onto her shoulder. "I'm not."
    • Impossible to forget the hilarious scene when Felicity causes Lady Denby to loudly break wind after harassing Ann in Rebel Angels
  • Nightmare Fuel: Plenty of it dispersed throughout the three novels, including but not limited to some of Gemma's visions (especially in Rebel Angels), the Poppy Warriors, the water nymphs, and some of the more supernatural nighttime occurances at Spence.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Felicity's "ghost story" about the lives that await her, Gemma, Pippa, and Ann if they accept their roles as Victorian women is not subtle in its feminist message, but it's no less effective for that.
  • Tear Jerker: Heaps of it, really.
    • The scene in which Gemma realizes that Felicity was abused as a child, particularly when she warns Polly to always lock her door at night.
      • Read that reveal. Then reread the first book at the part where Felicity, who has been excited about her dad coming to the ball for parents, gets a letter from him which amounts to "sorry kiddo couldn't make it." Her father raped her repeatedly as a child, and yet she cannot help but wish for his company, wish to make him proud, and cries in the rain when he just cannot show up despite his earlier promise.
    • Anything to do with the addiction of Gemma's dad. Tom ignores it and got him addicted to laudanum in the first place, Gemma tries to solve it with magic but a few days later finds him in an opium den, and he does not get better by the end.
    • Anne's situation. An orphan girl tormented at school both because she is poor and under the excuse that "what's the use being nice to her now when society will tear us apart afterwards anyways?", and the only relatives she has, the ones she is told to be grateful to for having sent her to Spence, only did so because that way they will get a governess for their kids for only food and lodging whom they won't have to pay. For part of the books she has a huge and adorable crush on Tom, but with him looking for a rich wife, she was set up to fail from the start in that regard.
    • Pippa's life seems to be so perfect, with her being so beautiful and all, right? No. She has epilepsy, which she barely has medication for and which is so shameful that she has to keep it in the deepest secret. When Gemma and co find out she is afraid they will abandon her, when her parents are afraid they cannot wait any longer before it becomes common knowledge, they try to force her into marrying the first rich guy capable of settling her father's debts. Small wonder she is Driven to Suicide.