Monday, June 11, 2012

The Sweet Far Thing.

Title/Author: The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray.

Read by: Josephine Bailey.

Genre: YA/Supernatural.

Publisher: Listening Library.

Source: Borrowed from library.

Favorite character: Gemma and Felicity.

Favorite quote:  "If we do not deem ourselves worthy first, how shall we ever ask for more?" ~Gemma.

All in all: A bit long, but a nice wrap up to the trilogy.  

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:  (Please note: If you haven't read the first two books in this trilogy, this post may have spoilers.) 

Once again, the writing of Libba Bray's world in Victorian England and its magical counterpart is filled with beautiful imagery and descriptive details.

The main character, Gemma, is still relatable in that she often makes impulsive and poor choices that either alienate others or make them distrust her.  She is accused of reveling in her "aloneness" and indeed she does often feel that way, especially with the death of her mother and also because she has such a huge responsibility.  She is not sure how to right the wrongs that have been caused within The Realms by outside forces.  She is a restless soul and is not sure how to unbind herself of feelings of dissatisfaction.

The plot is intriguing and the twists, turns and clues are clever.  The story includes many mystery elements which I always enjoy, but I feel that the standout parts of this book are Gemma's interactions with others. 

One of Gemma's most complicated relationships is with her older brother Tom.  This is a typical, often at odds and sometimes antagonistic sibling dynamic.  Their frustration with each other is clear, in that they each have different world views and roles.  Gemma has a desire to be free and not constrained by the society that Tom clearly represents.  Another bittersweet relationship is between Gemma and her father.  He is grief stricken over his wife's death and Gemma feels that she is not enough to make him happy and keep him on a safe and healthy path.  This was very heartbreaking to read.

The romance part of Gemma's story heats up as well in this installment.  Kartik and her finally admit their feelings to each other and I like how Kartik opens up once he made this decision.  I like him much better in this book.  He is more sure of himself, sweeter and funnier.

The writing is so lovely and not only did I as a reader see the details of the era, but also felt the oppressive role of women and the downtrodden in society.  Gemma regards the tea parties and balls she must attend as torture and describes these social events and the way people are expected to behave as narrow.  "The word should is like a corset, meant to bend you to a proper shape."  She thinks at one point and I feel that this is true even for today.  But back then, women in a certain class were expected to behave in a certain way even more so or else they could suffer being ostracized.  I think that Gemma finding her power within The Realms is also indicative of finding it outside The Realms and she chooses to make her own destiny.

Narrator Josephine Bailey, had the opportunity to utilize her performance talents further in this book as there were several more characters and she portrayed them all with a different style, intonation and accent that amazed me. Sweet voices of little children, gravelly-voiced villains, elderly ladies and male leads were all believable. I will be seeking out Ms. Bailey to see what other books she has performed on audio.

There were a few things that didn't work for me.  The recap of events in the past two books is more telling than showing.  I understand that sometimes a re-cap may be necessary and the quickest way is to just sum it up, but maybe it could have been shown via dialogue.  I also feel that the culmination could have been wrapped up in the second installment of this trilogy.  They seemed to be going in and out of The Realms so often with only a tad being accomplished each time.  There were also a few other subjects that were included, like worker's rights that were interesting and fit in with the book and some of the characters, but felt a little bit forced to me.  Don't think I didn't enjoy this though.  I did enjoy it very much and I would recommend the series to anyone who enjoys supernatural, fantasy, historical fiction and YA. 

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