Sunday, March 29, 2009

TSS - Review - The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray


It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.

The Order—the mysterious group her mother was once part of—is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence's burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.

My thoughts:

I've been putting off reading this, the last in the Gemma Doyle series. I do this often when I find a series I really enjoy. I don't want to read the last one, because then it's over. If I still have that last book out there, waiting, then I can imagine the characters I've grown to love are still having adventures, just waiting for me to catch up. Also, because I'm often disappointed in the last of a series, I like to imagine things they way I want them. I don't want to read the last book, and feel like it didn't measure up. Thankfully, that's not how I feel after reading The Sweet Far Thing.

Yep, I love this series. After spending months and month reading, and then hearing people rave on and on about, a series where the heroine essentially obsesses over love, and gets rescued a lot (Yes, Bella, I'm talking about you), it's sure nice to read a trilogy where the heroine, for better or worse, takes a little control of the situation.

Which is not to say that Gemma Doyle is perfect. She is stubborn, and proud, and confused, and lonely - a combination that can, and does, lead to some trouble. Gemma's actions are often impulsive, and she is sometimes easily swayed by her friends. She's also tenacious, and smart, and loyal, and funny. I really fell in love with Gemma in the first book in the series, and she just keeps getting better.

I think the novel does have a few pacing issues - I found myself rolling my eyes a couple of times, wondering WHY we have to back into the Realms to play with Pippa AGAIN, or exactly how many times we had to make social calls with Grandmama. I think it's hard to maintain momentum throughout an 800+ page novel, and there were times when, honestly, this one seemed a little slow. Thankfully, however, Libba Bray is a good enough writer that those periods were not long, or that plentiful, and for the most part I was engaged the entire time.

And the ending - OH, the ending. Captivating and bittersweet. I often take exception to endings, but this one was right on. Not too perfect, because that's not the way the world works, but a fitting end to an engrossing story.

I really like this series. I appreciate that it teaches girls they can, and should, take responsibility for their own lives. I appreciate that it tells them they are strong enough to be bold and courageous. And I appreciate that it shows how bad things can, and will, happen, and we are able to go on. I think it's an extremely entertaining, well-written YA series, and will definitely be rereading it in the future.

Finished: 3/28/09
Source: my shelves
Rating: 8/10

Don't just take my word for it! Here's what some other fabulous bloggers thought:

Fyrefly's Book Blog

Peeking Between the Pages
Becky's Book Reviews


Melissa said...

Thanks for the review. I haven't read any of these, but after reading your review I went and looked up about the other books and have now added the first to my wishlist. :-)

Literary Feline said...

I really like that cover. This sounds like a great series. I am glad the final book turned out to be a good fit for the series.

violetcrush said...

Isn't the cover just gorgeous? Nice review, unfortunately I haven't read a single book in the series, I'll have to start from the beginning.

Beth F said...

I hoping to read Libba Bray for the first time this year for one of my challenges.

Zibilee said...

My daughter loves this series, and wants me to read them. I had been holding off on buying the last book for awhile, but now I think I should just go ahead and get it to complete the series for both of us to enjoy. Thanks for the great review!