Thursday, January 10, 2008
The Sweet Far Thing
Bray, Libba. 2007. The Sweet Far Thing.
The Sweet Far Thing concludes the trilogy following Gemma Doyle and her quests in and out of the realms. (The first being A Great and Terrible Beauty which I read at least six months or so before I started blogging so there's no record of what I thought. And the second being Rebel Angels which I reviewed last winter/spring.) The book is heavy both in content and weight. 819 pages. Most of them of seventeen-year-old Gemma confused about who she is and what she wants. At the end of Rebel Angels, Gemma bound the magic of the realms to herself. She had promised several different peoples or tribes that she would later share the magic and make peace throughout the realms; she would issue in a new era of peace and unity. The close of Rebel Angels also saw the death of Circe. (or did it???)
The Sweet Far Thing picks up three months later. It is spring. Felicity and Gemma are getting ready to make their debut in society. And Ann, poor Ann, is still going to be a governess. She's still being treated horribly by the other girls at Spence Academy. Mrs. Nightwing is planning a big masked ball in honor of the graduating class--the class of which Gemma and Felicity and Ann are a part. The other buzz around campus is the ongoing work to complete the East Wing. Mrs. Nightwing is determined that the East Wing which was originally destroyed by fire twenty-five years before, needs to be rebuilt in order for Spence to regain its honor and prestige. But there are many people who fear what will happen when the East Wing is rebuilt. They're afraid of what might become unsealed and unburied. The Gypsies. Mother Elena especially is full of warnings. Most of which go unheeded. But such is the way with those that prophesy foreshadowing.
Getting back to Gemma. Gemma was having an identity crisis of sorts in Rebel Angels. She feared that no one really loved her for her. That her father and grandmother and brother all have their own "idea" of who she is. An idea that is far from reality. And she's worried that her friends just love her, just include her because of her magic, because of her power. She was tempted for a while by a boy, Simon, but then felt he didn't love her for her, know her for her either.
This quote is from Rebel Angels:
To Felicity and Ann, I’m a means into the realms.
To Grandmama, I am something to be molded into shape.
To Tom, I am a sister to be endured.
To Father, I am a good girl, always one step away from disappointing him.
To Simon, I’m a mystery.
To Kartik, I am a task he must master.
My refelection stares back at me, waiting for an introduction. Hello, girl in the mirror. You are Gemma Doyle. And I’ve no idea who you really are. (396-397)
Back to Sweet Far Thing. So Gemma is still learning who she is, what she wants, what she needs, and even learning what she fears most. When the book opens, the reader learns that Gemma has not been able to regain access to the realms. She can no longer conjure up the white door. She has seemingly lost her power. Also of note, the dreams and visions have stopped for the most part. But with 819 pages, the reader knows this powerlessness won't last long. Gemma will find a way; she always finds a way to get what she wants or what she thinks she wants.
There is mystery, confusion, epic battles between good and evil, trickery, betrayal, secrets, lies, love and lost love, fear and hope. There is family drama and school drama. And drama between friends as boundaries are pushed or nudged and little lies are told. Fans of the series will no doubt be anxious to read this saga through to its bittersweet conclusion. (I read it in two days.) But I'm unable to predict how they'll feel about the ending. I know my response. (Though I won't go there here in this post.) But how will fans react?