Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (4/5 stars)

This is the third, and final book, of the Gemma Doyle series by Libba Bray. Although this was an excellent book; I think it was the weakest of the series.

This book picks up with the girls back at Spence Academy looking forward to a new school year. Gemma is struggling to use her magic to summon a door to the realms and also finds out that the wing of the school that burnt down is being rebuilt. Gemma has more visions and eventually they lead her to find that there is a door to enter the realms in the old wing of the school. When Felicity, Ann, and Gemma enter the realms they find that things have changed; the creatures from the Winterlands are missing. Gemma is pressured by the forest folk to share the magic that she bound to herself in the last book and is unsure of who to trust throughout the whole book.

There is a lot to say about this book. The book was very long; a bit too long. It is a long time until Kartrik enters the story and initially you are left wondering if you'll ever see him again. Gemma's character became kind of frustrating to read about. She knows that what she does with the magic is really important, yet she seems to spend a lot of time playing with the magic. This seems inconsistent with her character; usually she gets things done. In this book she spends a lot of time using the magic for frivolous purposes. I am not sure if this was supposed to portray Gemma's immaturity or what the purpose was.

This book had some interesting political overtones; which were different from previous books in the series. There was more of a women's rights and worker's rights theme to this book. I thought it was strange that politics enter into the storyline fairly prominently. This was something the girls never worried about much before. Maybe the politics were supposed to show us that the girls were maturing and starting to pay more attention to society outside of their little happy sphere.

I am not surprised at how things ended between Gemma and Kartrik. I am surprised that so many readers were caught off guard by the result of their relationship. Really, to stay at all true with the times, that was probably the best way to handle things. Felicity, Gemma, and Ann are already bolder than I think the society of the time would really allow for; what happens with Gemma and Kartrik brings a bit of realism to the story.

I though Felicity and Ann's storylines were well done and wrapped up nicely. I especially like how Ann's story went; that girl deserved a nice turn in her life. I think Felicity's story ended on a more positive note than it would realistically. As for Gemma's final story; I have to agree with other reviewers that that was totally out of left field. No idea at all where that came from. Gemma's decisions about her future didn't seem to fit with the rest of Gemma's interests and life style. It was odd. I am not sure if the author's sole intention was to surprise and shock but, well, I guess if that was the intention, it worked.

Overall the book was well-written, ended okay, and left the characters in pleasant (almost too pleasant) stages of their lives. I wish the story had been a bit tighter, that Gemma's character had stayed more true to her, well, character, and that things hadn't ended on such an absurdly positive fairytale-ish note. Other than that it was a very satisfying read and a good conclusion to an absolutely wonderful series. It will be interesting to see what Miss Bray writes next!

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