Monday, December 31, 2007

The End is Here

As I think can become clear through the majority of my reviews this year, because I read a lot of fantasy, I read a lot of series and trilogies. They believe that this sells better, so it is very rare to pick up a book and have it stand-alone. This means that I always have several series on the go, and I am hardly ever caught up in any of them. I could only read fantasy all this year and still not catch up on all the series I want to read. Frankly, more often than not, if I really like a series or trilogy the last book will sit on the shelf looking all pretty until I am reading to say good-bye to the characters properly. I hate to rush it because you can revisit, but you will never have that first read moment again. So, the last book is often the saddest moment for me, especially if I am really enjoying the experience.

Yesterday, I finished off what has quickly become one of my favourite young adult trilogies, and I had a real battle. Sometimes I wanted to fly through it to see what was going to happen next, and other times I just put it down because once I reached the end, there would be no more. One of the more interesting things about waiting for the final book in a series is that you get to think about what could happen next, and then you find yourself writing some of the scenes that you would like to see in your head. I really hope I am not the only one that does that! Yesterday saw the conclusion of Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy. There are other young adult books that I have enjoyed, but from the moment that I sat down with A Great and Terrible Beauty last year, I knew it was love. I loved all three books in this trilogy, which rarely happens for me. When it does, you know I am even sadder to see it end, because writing a strong second book in a trilogy is really hard to do. So, I was very sad to close the pages on The Sweet Far Thing.
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.
The biggest problem with gulping down this book was that even if she were to write something else, I am going to have to wait two years to see what it is! It was a chunkster, coming in at about 800 pages. I had intended to read short books, where I was so close to my goal of reading 200 books, but when I picked this book up, I knew I was going to have to read it. I had been waiting a year to see what was going to happen next, so I just had to know. Did everything happen as I thought it would? Not exactly, but I still enjoyed the read. There were a couple things that I had wished would play out differently, that is for sure. Part of me is still wondering if I liked the ending, because it did not end like I was hoping it would end, but at the same time the ending did not surprise me. It was not a terrible ending, just not what I wanted. So, I suppose I should stop whinning and just accept it.

This book follows Gemma Doyle in her last year at Spence Academy. The years have been rough for her since arriving there about a year ago. Her mother died, and it was her wish that if something happened to her, Gemma would be sent to Spence. This did not put a cheerful frame on the events that occurred for her. She did make friends, though. The headstrong Felicity, the meek and quiet Anne, and the lovely Pippa. To these girls, Gemma opened up a whole new world that had previously been closed to them and showed them that their dreams were possible. This book is sort of a coming of age tale, but, more importantly, it is about a young girl battling the forces of evil. Gemma can be a bit annoying at times. Her age and immaturity make appearances throughout the novel, but then it is hard to say what people will do when they are faced with something unusual like magical powers.

I think this book does a very good job tidying up the loose ends. You see more from characters than you have in previous books. Some of this might even surprise you. I found the book a page-turner for the most part, probably because I really liked the trilogy and I was really curious how Bray was going to end it. There was also probably a tiny hope that she would leave it open for a fourth book, but while I think there could be another one, I do not think there is a plan for another. Characters from the other two books will reappear. There are actually very few new characters in this novel. Bray is very good about closing everything up, even little storylines that could have got lost in the larger ones. Overall, I think she did a fantastic job and for the moment, this is my favourite young adult trilogy.

You should read it!


  1. I totally gobbled down this book when I bought it. I haven't felt so sad to see a trilogy end since I finished the last Harry Potter novel. I loved this book, although there were times I was frustrated with it, because there were parts that moved a little slow, but what a magnificent ending! And I'm now wondering if she intends to sort of let the reader know eventually what happens to Gemma in the future. I hope so! If not, at least I can just imagine what her new life, and Anne and Felicity's must be like.

  2. I agree, I loved this book as well, but there were some parts that did drag. A part of me wants a 4th, maybe to see what Gemma's life is like without the other girls, but then I think no it shouldn't be done.

    I did enjoy it, but I thought the ending was a bit much. I mean..where did that come from?