Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

Main Character: 16-year-old Gemma Doyle
Location: London
Time Period: Victorian Era
Genre: YA Fiction, Fantasy, Supernatural

Finally! I am finished with this series. I still found Gemma to be one of the most exasperating characters I have ever encountered, and there were times that I put this book down in favor of others. I was really hoping for a breakthrough--something that would let me like Gemma before the book was over (rather like I was hoping for a major redemptive moment for Snipe in the Harry Potter books.) I did get one, and that made the ending much more worthwhile for me. Things are heading for disaster when Gemma says "I can't live in fear any longer. I've cursed this power. I've both enjoyed it and misused it. And I've hidden it away. Now I must try to wield it correctly, to marry it to a purpose and hope that that is enough." That is what did it for me--Gemma finally (finally!) understood that she had to stop fighting her power and avoiding her destiny.

Now I don't want to give you the impression that there was a sudden switch--there was a a good deal of laying the groundwork for this declaration, including a very nice scene with her brother, Tom, after she rescued him from the Rakshana. This wound up being Tom's redemptive moment as he was able to drop his superior and supercilious facade and talk with Gemma person to person instead of older brother.

I do have to give Gemma props for one thing. In a number of other books, such as Cory Doctorow's Little Brother or Silenced by James DeVita, I have been bothered by how easily the protagonist trusts new people. Sometimes it has turned out well, but sometimes it leads to inevitable betrayal. Gemma does not have this problem. On the contrary, Gemma doesn't trust anyone (well, except for the Gorgon, who continually tells Gemma that she is untrustworthy.) Now, one could say that Gemma learned not to trust when the one teacher she felt close to turned out to be Circe in disguise, but she was showing this tendency early on. The problem with this is that Gemma doubts her own judgement about people--it's takes merely a passing comment from one person to turn her against someone else--and that greatly contributes to her sense of isolation.

I can't say that I enjoyed this series--if it wasn't for the recommendation of some of my patrons, I would probably have given up on it after the first book. Still, I can see why appeals to other readers.

1 comment:

Josette said...

I was hooked on the first two books and couldn't wait to get my hands on the third one.

This book was really thick! If only Ms Bray could make it into two books or something. But still, I enjoyed every page. I devoured every page actually. :)

Gemma really couldn't trust anyone. She couldn't even turn to her friends who preferred to play all the time in the realms, something I find quite disturbing. As for the members of the Order, that's even more complicated.

And Kartik. He's a complete mystery in the beginning. Thankfully he relented and began confiding in Gemma.

Overall, great book. It's sad that there won't be anymore of it!

Here's my review.