Review: The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

Title: The Sweet Far Thing
Author: Libba Bray
Genre: Young Adult
ISBN: 0440237777
Pages: 819
Year: 2008
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Source: My collection
Rating: 2/5

Plot summary (from The Book Depository):

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.

Plot summary (from me):

600 pages of pointlessness. 200 pages to wrap up the story. Oh, and there is some kissing. And some magic. But that’s all that sticks with me.

Other Books I’ve Read By Author: A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels (the first two books in the series).

Why I Picked Up This Book: I started it ages ago for Seriespalooza, but basically I just needed to finish the trilogy.

My thoughts:

I’ve been pretty vocal about my dislike of this book while reading it.  I have no idea why this book was 820 pages long. I’m pretty sure I could have skipped the first 600 pages and been fine. I thought the first two books picked up toward the end, and so did this one, but there was just too much before any real action happened.  I was annoyed with the characters – I disliked Ann and her whining, Felicity and her selfishness. And Gemma and her “oh what should I do, what should I do” complaints all the time.

My biggest problem with the book was that I don’t think their world was explained well enough so I didn’t care about it or what happened to it.  Because Gemma is the story teller and she doesn’t know anything, I didn’t either. Perhaps I just don’t remember the first two books well enough, but I felt like it was all just made up as we went. I want my fictional worlds to be carefully crafted and make sense.

I also was annoyed by all the selfishness that happened in the book. I know they’re only teenagers and maybe I’ve just watched too many episodes of Charmed, but I’m a believer in the idea that the people who hold magic should not use it for personal gain. I was annoyed by all the scheming.

The only thing that kept me going (besides the need to finish the trilogy) was the Gemma-Kartik storyline. I did want to know what happened with them.

Memorable Passages:

“Peace is not happenstance. It is a living fire that must be fed constantly. It must be tended to with vigilance, else it dies out.” p. 301

Will I Read This Author Again?: Possibly, but I won’t go out of my way.

14 thoughts on “Review: The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

  1. Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict January 13, 2010 / 11:35 am

    I read a Sweet Far Thing a while ago and I remember wishing it was shorter. I didn’t enjoy the ending either, it probably was because I wanted more from the Gemma-Kartik storyline. I do remember liking the book, but preferred the first two books in the story.


    • Michelle January 13, 2010 / 5:57 pm

      I didn’t mind the ending actually. Or maybe I was just glad it was over. 😛


  2. Vishy January 13, 2010 / 1:56 pm

    Interesting review. I liked your comment ‘I have no idea why this book was 820 pages long’ 🙂 Probably the author forgot one of the golden rules of writing! I don’t think I am going to try reading Libba Bray anytime soon. I loved your favourite passage though. It is quite beautiful. The book seems to have its redeeming qualities 🙂


    • Michelle January 13, 2010 / 5:58 pm

      Some of the book was fine and the first two books were better. Lots of people like this series so don’t let me turn you off of her completely. 🙂


  3. fruitflieslikeabanana January 13, 2010 / 4:17 pm

    I agree, this book is way too long! 😀 I really liked the first book, too my surprise, but after that it went downhill. It was slightly too esoteric for me.


    • Michelle January 13, 2010 / 5:58 pm

      I remember you saying that a looong time ago and I had to look up what esoteric meant. Lol.


  4. Dominique January 14, 2010 / 5:22 am

    I think I read this series about two years back and enjoyed the first one, thought the second one was ok and found the third one tedious and a bit dull. In fact I can’t even really remember what happened in it now.


    • Michelle January 14, 2010 / 11:02 am

      I think that sums up the series nicely, Dom.


  5. Bookjourney January 15, 2010 / 3:47 pm

    820 pages? That is a large book. You had better really like a book to commit that size. Beautiful cover though.


    • Michelle January 17, 2010 / 9:47 am

      The cover and title of the first book in the series, A Great and Terrible Beauty, are one of the reasons I was drawn to it. But I guess you really shouldn’t judge a book my its cover.


  6. carol January 20, 2010 / 2:22 pm

    I read A Great and Terrible Beauty, but didn’t care enough to read any more.


    • Michelle January 20, 2010 / 8:04 pm

      I think that was a good decision.


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