Post number sixty-one is for Libba Bray’s third and final book in her Gemma Doyle trilogy, entitled The Sweet Far Thing. (NOTE: My thoughts on the first two books can be read here and here, if you’re interested.) This book was exceedingly long – too long, in fact, because a lot of it could have been condensed; I felt like I was re-reading the camping portions of Deathly Hallows at times, because it felt like we were moving through Gemma’s life day by day, and it got rather tedious at times because NOTHING HAPPENED. And then things picked up, and I didn’t want to stop reading, so that saved it and made it better, although I still think I liked the second book the best.
Slight spoilers follow.
So, again, I felt like this book was just too long. It picked up fairly closely to the end of the second book; Gemma’s got the magic bound to her, and is trying to figure out what to do, and who to trust. But there were portions where I literally felt like nothing of value whatsoever was happening, or if there was something important, it could have been condensed into a couple of paragraphs to show the passage of time and then the story could have moved on. That being said, the book read amazingly fast for being almost 900 pages long, and I found myself completely engrossed in the story and wanting to know how things would work out.
Now for some more in-depth thoughts and spoilers, although I’ll try not to get too specific. In typical fashion with these types of stories, Gemma makes a lot of mistakes; she trusts the people she shouldn’t, and doesn’t trust those she should. She also has it set in her mind that magic can fix everything, which she should have learned from the second book – especially when it comes to her father – that it cannot. And yet, she doesn’t learn this, and it takes her nearly the whole book to learn to accept things (and, oddly enough, this acceptance comes from her brother, of all people). She also goes through a “nobody likes me aside from the fact that I have magic” stage, which was rather obnoxious, especially because Ann and Felicity liked her from the start before they even knew about the magic.
While I had sort of accepted that Gemma and Kartik most likely would not wind up together – they’re from different worlds, and Gemma has societal ties that prevent her from breaking free even when she wants to – the ending was disappointing and I will admit that I cried. Gemma was at times completely infuriating, but I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her in the end. Ann and Felicity both got their happy endings, and Gemma, while finally being allowed to make her own choice regarding her immediate future, really didn’t; she’s heartbroken over Kartik and the last bit, where she saw him in her dreams and he told her he’d always be with her even if she couldn’t see him, and just … WAH! :((
There’s more I could say about this book – in fact, I could probably go on and on and on about various things – but I think this will suffice. It was a good ending to the trilogy in that the storyline was mostly completed and things were mostly set to rights; but the personal story arc of Gemma was disappointing, not only because of Kartik but also because I didn’t really feel like she grew all that much as a character, although I suppose she did learn a few lessons and have to make a few concessions and acceptances. Maybe that was enough.