Posts Tagged ‘Libba Bray’

The Sweet Far Thing (review)

by Libba Bray
Random House, 2007
Source: OverDrive ebook
A few weeks ago I was trolling through my library’s OverDrive collection when I spotted A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray.  I vaguely remembered hearing positive reviews about the series so I impulsively downloaded the book.  Not only did I tear through the book in a matter of days, I stayed up ridiculously late one night (a work night, of course) to finish it.  The second book, Rebel Angels, got a similar treatment.  The third, The Sweet Far Thing, however, did not.
Overall, the series is pretty good.  I’m not a historian, so I can’t say this with absolute certainty, but the setting (Victorian England) felt genuine.  The heroine, Gemma Doyle, is smart, witty, flawed, and not above thinking snarky thoughts about her snotty classmates.  Some of the characters – like the snotty classmates – are rather one-dimensional, but I was willing to let that slide and just enjoy the story (the better-developed characters aren’t exactly complex, either).  The paranormal element (surprised there is a paranormal element? allow me to introduce you to contemporary YA fiction) is just unique enough to keep it from sounding like every other book containing magic and mythological creatures, but it doesn’t beat the reader over the head with its uniqueness (“Look at me!  Look how clever and creative I am!  No, really, I’m clever and creative!”).  
My biggest beef with the series as a whole (aside from a few complaints here and there) are the covers and titles of the books.  The covers didn’t bug me as much as the titles, but that’s probably because I didn’t have to look at them very often since I was reading the books in ebook form.  The titles just don’t seem to match the books very well.
Anyway, The Sweet Far Thing.  While I read A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels in just a few days each, it took me a week and a half to get through this one.  This.  Book.  D.R.A.G.G.E.D.  And the thing is, I don’t mind long books.  I don’t mind books that aren’t action-packed.  But I got a third of the way through this book and I started seriously doubting that I would ever finish it.  If it had been the first book and not the third, I probably would not have bothered.  I really hate to say it, but it’s true.
My recommendation would be to read at least the first book.  It’s better than a lot of the paranormal books saturating the YA market, and Libba Bray is an entertaining writer.  The Sweet Far Thing may not have been as good as I’d hoped it would be, but it hasn’t scared me away from Bray’s other work, either.  I may take a little YA break, though.

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