Thursday, October 3, 2013
The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
If you like: illusions * debutantes * achieving greatness
The Sweet Far Thing concludes The Gemma Doyle Trilogy. As the girls reach their season and womanhood, things in the realms become more dangerous than ever before. The situation with Pippa has become ever more dire as she has spent more time in the realms and eaten more of the berries that keep her there. The girls continue to wonder who they can trust and who is the most dangerous. Each girl wants to find success and fame all while exploring the magic and embracing who she truly is. More than anything else, they each seek happiness.
Gemma causes the greatest conflict of the series by continuing to ignore the warnings that she trust no one. Time and again she is warned that those of the realms cannot be trusted and that the magic will be used to deceive her. Each time Gemma ignores these warnings it seems to lead to a more dangerous situation for her. This can be frustrating for the reader at times, but in the end it is revealed that her instincts were not all wrong. In spite of all of her immature and childish mistakes, Gemma learns to be a better judge of character than her elders. It takes the pain of losing almost everything for her to realize what true sacrifice is, and who she can count on. It is nice to think that this sort of growth could have been achieved sooner in the series rather than repeating the same mistake again and again. Gemma is not the only one who experiences growth. After seeming to stagnate throughout the series, both Felicity and Ann revel in new discoveries at the conclusion. It is difficult to believe that these three women experienced such a dramatic turnaround so quickly, but great change can precipitate greater growth.
The Gemma Doyle Trilogy is all about the sacrifices that people make to reach adulthood. Each of the characters must give up some of their childish fantasies and dreams in order to become an adult. For some characters this sacrifice may come later in life, but they still learn what it means to face reality. Gemma begins to understand that she must be willing to sacrifice her ideas of love and friendship in order to reach her true potential. The role of women in society also plays an important role. For a period of time, women were forced aside and subjugated by the rules of polite society. In the realms, they are able to understand their capacity for greatness, making it impossible to happily return to the life before this illusion was shattered. Society is on the verge of a great shift in understanding of what women are capable of. It is a pleasure to see this change occur in the minds of the characters in the trilogy. Though the girls can seem vapid at times, they do increase their utility and fight for what they believe in. In many ways it would be easier for them to accept their traditional roles, and forget their dreams of greatness. Instead, each woman chooses to retain at least some aspect of her newfound aptitude. Perhaps it would have been more satisfying if these characters had come together sooner to fight for the world and the realms, but the reader will not be disappointed when the feuding sides join together and battle for what's right. Fortunately, this transformation occurs outside the realms and these women can hold it in their minds for the rest of their lives. Change may occur incrementally or dramatically, but it takes the joining together of many different frames of reference for a society to change. It is when these women realize their full capacity for life and change that they can bring about the much needed revolution.
If you would give the ultimate sacrifice to stop the world from being undone, read The Sweet Far Thing.
Bray, Libba. The Sweet Far Thing (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy). Random House Children's Books, 2007. Kindle Edition.