Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

Dear Ms. Bray,

Book CoverJane is right. The hardest reviews to write are those for the books you love. How can I capture the strengths of an 800-plus page book in only a few hundred words? The task is daunting and I’d be lying if I said I’m not overwhelmed by the thought. There’s so much good here that I can’t possibly address it all.

The Sweet Far Thing concludes the trilogy started by A Great and Terrible Beauty, following the adventures of Gemma Doyle, the last inheritor of a power beyond imagining. This book picks up where Rebel Angels left off, where Gemma defeated Circe, enemy of the Order and the woman responsible for her mother’s death, and sealed away the magic of the Realms, a sort of otherworld dimension. But those events were not without consequence: Gemma has since been unable to return to the Realms and her magic has deserted her.

When she does find a way to access both the Realms and her magic, Gemma learns everyone wants a piece of her: the Order, the Rakshana, the creatures of the Realms. Even her friends at Spence Academy, Felicity and Ann, appear to want Gemma’s magic more than they do Gemma the girl. The responsibility of controlling all the magic weighs heavily and she puts off the decision about who to share it with as long as possible.

I can’t blame her; none of the options are attractive. The all-female Order wants to regain their previous glory. Tired of their servitude to the Order, the all-male Rakshana wants to seize the power for themselves. The various creatures of the Realms are fed up with humans controlling the magic and fight amongst themselves about which tribe will control it. All of them think they know best, and none of them want to share it with anyone else.

I admit Gemma’s dithering initially annoyed me. It’s obvious she needs to make a choice and the more she puts it off, the more disaster looms. Then I stopped and put myself in her place. Gemma is nearly seventeen years old, soon to make her debut in proper London society, but she’s spent most of her life being ordinary. She’s not beautiful like Pippa. She’s not charismatic like Felicity. She’s not talented like Ann. The only thing she has that’s extraordinary, that sets her apart, is her magic, and now she has control of it all — including the ability to bestow it upon who she chooses and to withhold it from those she wishes to punish. It’s a heady feeling, and I can’t blame her for stalling. What teenage girl doesn’t want to feel special, powerful, and in control of her own destiny?

Themes of power run throughout the book. How power corrupts those who have it. How the pursuit of power leads to ruin. How the struggle for power turns people against one another. On the flip side, we also have the theme of peace. Peace is not something that comes easily and without a fight. You must fight to win it and you must fight to maintain it. It’s the failure to do the latter that resulted in the mess that is the Realms, and it’s the one thing Gemma struggles most to achieve.

Gemma’s friendships with Felicity and Ann both delight and frustrate me. They capture how tumultuous the friendships of teenage girls can be and yet, I felt they were using Gemma for her magical powers. When Gemma can’t access the Realms, they’re disappointed. When Gemma won’t give them her magic, they’re angry. When they get a little magic of their own and can access the Realms without her, they cast Gemma aside. I realize this was an extension of the power theme, but it frustrated me all the same. I wanted Gemma to admit what they were doing and stand up to them, and part of me was disappointed she never truly did.

At its heart, though, The Sweet Far Thing is a tragedy. The numerous references to Macbeth warn us, as does the clearly marked five act structure. I’ve adored the relationship between Gemma and Kartik since the first book but could not for the life of me figure out how their love could ever work out. Even if you ignore the race and class issues separating them, Kartik adheres too much to the idea of predetermined fate while Gemma believes in free will. You could have taken the easy way out, giving us the ending that’s almost expected to the point of cliché, but you didn’t and frankly, now I can’t see how it could have ended any other way. Everything has a price, even peace, and the struggle for the Realms and its magic drove that point home.

While I felt Gemma’s decision post-debut came out of left field, I loved how this book touched on issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality. It’s a rare story that keeps me guessing and this book did until the very end, and I can’t help but love it for that. A-

My regards,
Jia

This book can be purchased in hardcover or ebook format.

Jia is an avid reader who loves fantasy and young adult novels. She's also currently dipping her toes in the new adult genre but remains unconvinced by the prevalent need for traumatic pasts. Her favorite authors are Michelle West and Jacqueline Carey. YA authors whose works she's enjoyed include Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Ally Carter, and Megan Miranda. Jia's on a neverending quest for novels with diverse casts and multicultural settings. Feel free to email her with recommendations at [email protected]!

66 Comments

  1. Review Round-up! « Urban Fantasy Land
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 15:32:49

    [...] The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray [...]

  2. Sarai
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 15:48:31

    I have to say that this series surprised me. I have been reading it from the beginning and have put this book off because I don’t want it to end. After reading this review I guess I will need to bite the bullet and wrap the trilogy. You are right Jia this is a group of books that I would highly recommend to readers of all ages.

    ReplyReply

  3. Jia
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 17:02:16

    Sarai: If it makes you feel better (or maybe not), I alternated between speeding through this book to find out what happened next, consciously slowing down so I could savor every word, and purposely putting it down so I could do something else, just so I could put off the ending a little bit longer.

    ReplyReply

  4. Christine
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 17:40:36

    Thanks for the review, Jia. I really enjoyed the first two books in this series. But I did read the first two stories back to back in early 2006, so I admit I had an awful lot of mental oh yeah’s and hmm’s while reading your review. I hope the characters and plot come back to me when I read The Sweet Far Thing. Two years between series book releases is too long for me, I think. But since this is trilogy, and I truly enjoyed Ms. Bray’s storytelling, I will still read the final installment. I wonder about Ms. Bray’s intended target audience, though. Do you think that the average young adult who started reading this series from the beginning with A Great and Terrible Beauty in 2003 is still anticipating this final novel? Maybe I underestimate the YA audience, but five years is an awfully long time to hold a young adult’s attention, don’t you think?

    ReplyReply

  5. Sarah
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 18:41:37

    Thanks for this great review! I loved this book so much. It’s the book series I’m always recommending to the teens at my library after they finish the Twilight series (which is far inferior to Libba Bray’s writing and storytelling, in my opinion.)

    ReplyReply

  6. trisha
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 18:42:43

    I've adored the relationship between Gemma and Kartik since the first book but could not for the life of me figure out how their love could ever work out.

    Oh, ditto. This is why, as much as the book made me cry, I was never truly upset about what happened. Because I was never sure that things could work out between them in the first place. I’m just glad that the ending worked, in the sense that it didn’t make me feel betrayed or upset. (Unlike, say, Meredith Ann Pierce’s Darkangel series, which I still have bitter feelings about.) In fact, like you, I really appreciate that Bray didn’t take the easy way out. I’m not sure I would have bought an HEA had there been one.

    Anyway, have you been reading Libba Bray’s LiveJournal? She discusses the free will vs. destiny issue there.

    Christine – I hadn’t read the first two books since late 2005, but chapter four provides a good recap of what happened. And I do think a lot of teens were anticipating this novel. Bray’s LiveJournal is popular, the first two books are still popular, and teens these days are sticking with YA longer than they have in the past since there are more YA books published for older teens now. Plus, I think the series being published over the last half of the Harry Potter years helps. Maybe fewer teens who picked up A Great and Terrible Beauty when it first came out will have stuck around for The Sweet Far Thing than the ratio of those who have been Harry Potter fans since 1998, or whenever HP1 came out, and read HP7 last year, but I think HP proved that folks will continue to buy and read books in a series they began as teens even though they’re now older teens or no longer in their teens. Especially since there were a finite number of volumes; it would be easier to stop reading the series if it continued indefinitely like Gossip Girl or something, with its various spinoffs. But I’m pretty sure most fans have known from the beginning that there would be three books, and only three books, which makes it a lot easier to commit to finishing a series that began 5 years ago.

    ReplyReply

  7. Jia
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 18:51:54

    Christine: In addition to what trisha said, I think we sometimes underestimate young adults and their attention spans. I know there’s all this noise about videogames, TV, movies, etc competing for their attention but when they love a series, they love a series and will come back for more. I also think age plays a factor. I’ve always considered the Gemma Doyle books to be upper YA, meaning that their target audience tends to be in the older teen range.

    trisha: I, too, still feel bitter about how the Darkangel trilogy ended. I loved the first book but that third one… Talk about feeling betrayed.

    ReplyReply

  8. Keishon
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 19:24:26

    I bought this and can’t wait to start this series. One day soon.

    ReplyReply

  9. Rachel
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 20:14:43

    Oh, man, did I love this book! ITA about Kartik/ Gemma. As I read all three books, I kept thinking that I wanted them to be together, but I would be pissed if she did some sort of cop-out ending for them, like if they’d tried to live in The Realms, or find another place to live that would accept them. Having said this, I have NEVER cried so much at the end of a book. And this is coming from a gal who did her master’s thesis on Thomas Hardy. I know sad books. But there was something about that ending that just…excuse me, I need a Kleenex.

    Anyway, I also loved the idea that sometimes great sacrifices have to be made to achieve great things. I thought it was interesting, too, that Libba Bray commented on her blog about how many girls left her comments that said things like, “Kartik was the best part!” or “Gemma can’t live without Kartik!” She was pretty disturbed by that, and so was I. The whole point is that Gemma can live without him. It hurts and it’s hard, but that what makes her strong.

    ReplyReply

  10. Jia
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 20:37:14

    Rachel: I visited Libba Bray’s LiveJournal after trisha linked it above and I agree. Those reactions are disturbing. I can understand where they’re coming from, but I don’t think that was the sort of story Bray set out to write. To spend three books chronicling Gemma’s growth into a strong, independent woman in full control of her own destiny and then to suggest she could never have lived without Kartik? That misses the point entirely.

    ReplyReply

  11. Keishon
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 20:47:04

    Ok, you all are worrying me. I like happy endings but I know I must be prepared for a sad end to this trilogy. So noted. Thanks.

    ReplyReply

  12. Christine
    Feb 12, 2008 @ 02:38:35

    Trisha and Jia: Thanks for your responses. It is reassuring that both of you think my concerns over Ms. Bray’s audience are most likely unnecessary. It would be a shame for young adult readers to have missed out on the denouement of this skillfully written series. Currently, my experience with young adult readers is predominately with middle school aged children, who seem to be so flighty in their interests and focus levels. I’m hopeful they will grow to become passionate readers who will pick up and stick with series such as Ms. Bray’s trilogy.

    I have to say I’m glad to learn about the recap of sorts in chapter four of The Sweet Far Thing. I’m a bit less daunted now about forgetting some key details from the previous books.

    ReplyReply

  13. Marg
    Feb 12, 2008 @ 03:31:48

    I’ve read the first two books in this trilogy, but haven’t seen this book in the shops here yet! I can’t wait to finally get to read it, even though I know that I am going to be sad to be ending the trilogy, and by the sound of it even sadder at some of the events in the book!

    ReplyReply

  14. Annie
    Feb 12, 2008 @ 12:59:52

    I’ve had this book since it was released, but I was reading something else and set it aside. Now I’m up at college & my sister “borrowed” (read: stole) my copy. Your review makes me want to steal it back from her to see how everything ends! Damn school, it never gives me any time to do fun reading.

    ReplyReply

  15. Maddie
    Feb 19, 2008 @ 17:08:01

    i just finished this book yesterday and i cried for hours. The book is fanominal! I didn’t want it to end. I really wish that Libba would continue the story. This trilogy has captured my heart like no other that I have ever read. I am satisfied but still want more!!! I vote for a fourth and final installment instead of a third. Three is not always a magic number. Beware readers! You won’t be able to put this one down. And you will probably cry too. I’m still recovering.

    ReplyReply

  16. Steph
    Mar 20, 2008 @ 07:07:29

    i just finsihed reading the book today and i cried SO much and i am still thinking of other ways how Kartik and Gemma could’ve been together.
    However I am a little bit confused about how Kartik died.
    Do you mind explaning to me a little bit?

    ReplyReply

  17. Jamie
    Apr 02, 2008 @ 16:50:52

    This book SUCKED! I have trugged my way through this trilogy just so I could see Gemma and Kartik end up together and then he DIES???!!!!
    Not to metion that these books are a HORRIBLE piece of literature and should NOT grace the shelves of noted bookstores. You can bash me all you want but cannot change my mind.

    (1) to say that Gemma is a strong, independent woman is ridiculous. Even though she may disagree with the standards of society, she still conforms in her own way by still needing the approval of others!

    (2) Gemma’s choice of Felicity and Ann as ‘friends’ :
    -Ann is the only one who redeems herself at the end by following her dreams, although she is NOT a good role-model for girls because she harms herself and we never know if she stops this behavior…(?)
    -Felicity is mean and selfish and is only kind to Gemma when she wants something or when she herself is pleased with what is going on. She also makes mean-spirited comments and doesn’t appologize

    To conclude, even though Gemma didn’t deserve Kartik, I’m appauled that Libba Bray would end her triology with his death!

    ReplyReply

  18. Robyn
    Apr 28, 2008 @ 00:54:30

    i cried so hard. This book touched every subject in life for Me. It hurts to lose someone and i know that and i didnt enjoy the end it made me mad because they were each others match- i want a fourth >.< but i dont think it would fit just rigghttm well we will never know – i think Libba could pull it off my thoughts personally.

    ReplyReply

  19. Mackenzie B.
    Apr 28, 2008 @ 17:44:31

    I loved this series SOOOOOO much, and the ending just was so sad! I wanted Kartik and Gemma to run away and get married, instead of him turning into the Tree of All Souls! I cried so hard! I suggest this to any girl at all! I totally want a fourth book so BAD!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyReply

  20. LolaChan
    May 27, 2008 @ 19:26:35

    Indeed this was a very fine book, but I can’t shake off the fact of what happened at the end. This book has make me cry like no other. I was bawling on my bed and screaming “Why… WHY?” to that book while my mom came in and just slowly… very slowly… backed off thinking I was a lunatic. I thought so much that this would be one of those books that I would say to my friends it’s a must-read, and you won’t regret you read it. I have come to hate this book dearingly (Meaning I hate it so much that I adore it) and I am still recovering from the fact that Kartik dies. I’m now in love with every Indian guy that passes me with wide eyes, curly hair and perfect features. Dear me, Libba Bray, why have you thrown upon me this misery??

    ReplyReply

  21. Zeno
    Jun 02, 2008 @ 15:56:11

    While I loved this book and absolutely adore this series, I was disappointed in the ending. I felt it pushed the theme of independance too far. In reality, no one is an island and we need others, not only to have complete and fulfilling lives, but to survive. Human beings are social creatures and we are not meant to be alone in life. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy periods of solitude (I certainly do – I’m an introvert through and through); however, while the development of independance and self-discovery are essential to a fulfilling life, compansionship is key to our survival. I base this on the fact that babies die without affection and physical touch, people grow sick and don’t live as long without friends and loved ones. Companionship comes in various forms, friendship being one of them, but I’d argue that romance is a deeper drive – it appeals both to our need for companionship AND our drive to perpetuate the species, regardless of whether or not you choose to.

    My biggest issue with both this and the Twilight series is that they give exaggerated messages in the opposite directions. In Twilight, the main character can’t live without her man (not in any meaningful sense). In this series, (WARNING SPOILER) Gemma is so strong and independant that she ends up alone in another country without Kartik because he’s dead. Unlike Twilight’s Bella, Gemma is determined to make something of her life and while that’s a wonderful message, why on earth does Kartik need to die in order for it to be achieved?

    Why can’t there be balance? Why can’t a woman be independant AND be with the love of her life? Why would it have been a cop out for Gemma and Kartik to end up together (as someone else suggested)? In my opinion, the cop out was killing Kartik because supposedly they could never have been together in this world. How convenient to have him die so that they never really had to face the issue of racism.

    I understand that Libba Bray may have been dismayed by the reaction of her readers who said things like “Kartik was the best part” and “Gemma can’t live without Kartik” but we need to read between the lines here. What these girls are saying is that the romance between Kartik and Gemma was their favorite part of the story and it disappointed them to have it end the way it did. The reason it was their favorite part of the story is because, as human beings, companionship is a more powerful drive than solitude.

    ReplyReply

  22. Anonymous
    Jun 09, 2008 @ 08:45:03

    I loved this series. It is one of my favorites. I was very upset by the ending, with Kartik’s death and all, though. I know that a happy ending may have been pushing things, but I couldn’t help but hope, anyway.

    PS- I resent that comment about Stephenie Meyer’s books being inferior to Libba Bray’s. They are both wonderful book series, and I think I like them the same. I dread the Twilight movie, however. Movies ALWAYS mess up EVERYTHING.

    ReplyReply

  23. Caitie
    Jul 17, 2008 @ 18:11:05

    I loved the first two books and will read them over and over, but I will NEVER, EVER reread the third book. I have never been so angry with the ending of a book. I was ready to scream at the book and Libba Bray. Kartik and Gemma could have so easily wound up together in the end, when Gemma leaves behind society and heads to America, but no Kartik has to go and turn into a flippin TREE!!! I hope there is not a fourth book unless Kartik is released and they wind up together, because as far as I’m concerned the story has no where to go now.

    ReplyReply

  24. Kajal
    Dec 07, 2008 @ 12:09:29

    You know what!!!
    I completely agree with Caittie. Jeez, couldn’t Kartik and Gemma have a perfect life together! I mean, thyey had so many great moments with one another. But Kartik turns into a tree! A TREE! seriously…… I mean, I really think there should be a fourth book with Gemma returning to London, finding Fowlson, and him begging her to take him to the realms. Then he decides to be the tree, since his beloved Sahirah is dead. And Kartik and Gemma live happily ever after!
    Or…
    Libbs Bray could have just skipped the whole tree part……
    Kartik and Gemma are meant for one another…
    When I finished the book, I was so mad and sad at the same time! I wanted to find Libba Bray’s email…
    and tell her what should be in her fourth book if she makes one. Because a story can’t be left like this…..
    Seriously!

    ReplyReply

  25. Priscilla
    Dec 23, 2008 @ 15:20:27

    I totally agree to have a 4th BOOK! It can’t just be left like this. Too many loved ones were lost. Too many lovers were broken apart. I mean, shouldn’t Gemma have her reward of great happiness? She had too many memories with Kartik and they have shared tears and laughter and have fought together, so that in the end, he becomes the blasted TREE. It shouldn’t be such a great loss they should suffer for the cause of others. They shouldn’t sacrifice their happiness for those of others. Why can’t someone else take his place? There are others who weren’t as important that could be of use. It’s not right. Kartik shouldn’t spend eternity as the Tree of All Souls and there are ways to join their souls through the magic of the tree.
    Eternity in the realms means they will NEVER be together, not even in the after life. Gemma is independent, but she should have her TRUE LOVE. She’s already lost too many people that really cared for her and her safety. Independent shouldn’t mean LONELY. Love is separate. They could be independent and happy.
    Please make a 4th BOOK. It can be one for only the readers that want a CHANGE, like an epilogue or alternate ending. It doesn’t have to be super official. Come on, we need some JUSTICE here.

    ReplyReply

  26. Tami
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 13:53:48

    While I must say I hated the end of the book, I respected it as well. It was perfect for Kartik’s character. A noble ‘death’. Although I do not believe he is dead. I believe that Kartik lives in the Winterlands and that Gemma, with what is left of her magic, will return to him someday. I don’t need a fourth book to cloud this idealistic vision for me. I prefer to keep it in my own thoughts.

    I have been slightly numb since finishing it as I am still running through all of the possibilities for Gemma and Kartik together. But in all, I must say that Gemma really wasn’t meant for marriage and settling down. Not yet, she wants more. Not to say that marriage and family are not wonderful (I myself have been married for years) but as she watched other couples she never seemed as if she would be content with such a life. She always wanted to be free of things that tied her down. I think that going to America will give her the opportunity to be free, and one day, when she realizes that love is worth more than anything in the world, she will return to the Realms, and to Kartik.

    ReplyReply

  27. Lauren
    Feb 28, 2009 @ 13:21:55

    Hey totally agree, I read this series right after twilight. Also agreed Felicicty and Ann are completely using Gemma. The end of the third book angered me so much that I cried. It seems silly to say that a twelve year old girl would cry over a two teenager's love life. I got so attached to them, Gemma and Kartik; I couldn't bear to see it end in such a tragic way. Just when everyone is happy something bad happens. It happened in twilight when Edward left. It happened in harry potter Voldemort came. (Duh!) I still have so many questions I would like to ask, Karmic, though. For example: WHAT THE HECK WERE YOU THINKING LEAVING GEMMA! Also: WHO CARES IF YOU HAD A NOBLE DEATH! I was in a daze for days when Kartik died. When I am sitting a quiet room, or school, and I think about the last book I can't help but feel empty in a part of me. But who knows maybe I am just strange?!?

    ReplyReply

  28. Megan
    Mar 30, 2009 @ 23:50:51

    When Kartik died it felt like the floor had dropped out from under me. During the whole ending i know (judging from the fates of other characters) that Libba Bray could not just let Gemma and Kartik be together. i was honeslty expecting something to happen to him, hoping it wouldn’t, but still expecting. however when i finnaly got to his death it was as if something had dropped out of me leaving a big empty spot. I honestly would not have cared if she killed of Anne and Felicity, just not Kartik. i suppose that mabey it wouldn’t have worked out in the end, (social status and everything, but doesn’t she turn her back on that in the end too? she goes to New York where she could have married Kartik) but she doesn’t have to explain there relationship after the end of the book anyway. everyone has said that it is a very fitting and beautiful ending, i however find it unsettling and unfulfilling; there is still the empty spot left from Kartiks death.

    ReplyReply

  29. stana
    Apr 26, 2009 @ 13:54:23

    wat’s libba’s email adress?

    ReplyReply

  30. Fizza
    May 04, 2009 @ 14:56:20

    i loved it, i really did.. but i’m a hopeless romantic so i wanted more than anything for gemma and kartik to end up together.. and i completely fell in love with kartik :) hehe.. so after reading the book i was so depressed but then i read libba’s q&a thing and she said she left it like that so that our imaginations could predict the outcome of the characters, and i thought of an amazing ending and that satisfied me :)

    and does anyone know libba’s e-mail address ?

    ReplyReply

  31. Ruby
    May 05, 2009 @ 08:59:44

    I loved all of the books! But WHY did you have to let Kirtik die!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHY!!!!!???? I was with my friends when i finnished the The Sweet Far thing and I was crying, they all asked are you all right? I said no because Kirtik died!!!!!!!!! I cried for hours it was so sad!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyReply

  32. nicole
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 17:23:28

    Good, I wasn’t the only one who cried. I’ve heard rumers that libba was writing a 4th book, but i really don’t know? so i was wandering if you guys heard anything?

    ReplyReply

  33. Gemma
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 20:22:39

    I loved the whole series. Oh and if you havent finished the book then this is a SPOILER!!!!!
    But I really wish Kartik didnt have to die. He was my favourite character. I kept looking to the next page to see if his name was on it. I cried so so so much. I kept reading his death over trying to let it sink in and I cried everytime. I have never cried so much in a book… :(
    My favourite part of the whole series was when the two of them were together in the Cave of Sighs. It was so cute and romantic and I was so happy they were finally toegther, even if it was only for a short while. I knew they would go to the Cave of Sighs eventually.
    I think that Kartik should have used his Winterlands magic to stop the sacrifice. Then they should have been together. Gemma was not one to agree with the society rules. I think they either had to run away or just be together and not care what people thought. That is what true love is about. Just being together and being happy. Dont you all agree? true love conquers all! But I guess I cant say the ending was terrible. Kartik did what he had to do to save his true love which is a great thing to do.
    I dont think that Kartik will be stuck forever. I mean, he cant come out of the tree like Euginia could so that might mean something. I think when Gema dies they can spend the rest of forever together with no one to judge them in the afterlife. I dont need a 4th book, I mean it would be awesome, but If it doesnt happen I am content to use my imagination and think about how happily they will be together in the end. I really think that her dream is implying that Kartik is just waiting for her to come join him across he river. but he will wait patiently because he wants her to live life. If you agree then tell me cause I would like to know what poeple think of my opinions!
    I love the series… I LOVE KARTIK!!!

    ReplyReply

  34. ashleigh
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 20:47:45

    I absolutely fell in LOVE with this series. The books kept getting better and better and better and by the third book, I felt as if I was Gemma herself!!! When I read the ending, I cried and cried. I went back after I finished the book and read all the romantic parts between Kartik and Gemma and cried all over again. I can’t believe it is over… I feel like a part of me is gone, maybe I’m weird, but that is how I feel. I would LOVE Libba Bray for ETERNITY if she wrote a fourth book. Even though I can at the moment come up with my own ending to the story, it still won’t feel complete because it is not official. Kartik and Gemma share a bond that no power can break and Gemma will eventually have to return to him. The ending is so open and fans need closure, we need to have more. I loved this series more than any other book I have EVER read. I miss Kartik and I don’t know how Gemma could have just walked away; someday she will have to return to him.

    ReplyReply

  35. bj
    Aug 22, 2009 @ 16:53:25

    hey
    ive just bought “The Sweet Far Thing” novel and was wonderin, can i read this one without readin or knowin anythin about the first two series?

    ReplyReply

  36. Tillie
    Aug 23, 2009 @ 12:10:20

    OKay, I COMPLETELY agree with Kajal!!

    I LOVED this book series soo much!! It is without a doubt one of the best I’ve ever read. I put off reading the last one because I didn’t want it to end. I still love the third book, but I think the ending is sooo sad! I NEVER EVER cry while reading books, but I cried when I read the end. I can’t believe Kartik would do that. I kept re-reading the part when he becomes the Tree, and I cried everytime. It’s soo sad, and it kinda pissed me off because Gemma and Kartik are meant to be together. I mean, I guess Libba would be taking the easy way out if they did wind up together, but I would’ve been fine with it. But if they did end up together, I wouldn’t think about the book as much. I mean, I’d still remember it was really good, and it was one of my favorites, but because Kartik sacrificed himself I won’t forget this book anytime soon.

    I keep thinking about ways that they could be together, him somehow being freed from the Tree of All Souls. I think that Fowlson should replace Kartik, because he truly doesn’t seem to have a very good life. His mom was horrible, the Rakshana used him, and Sahirah is dead. He should’ve sacrificed himself, not Kartik!

    I think that Libba Bray could and should write another book where Kartik and Gemma end up together. She should. She totally should. And she could definetly pull it off. Does anyone know her email address??? SHE NEEDS TO WRITE A FOURTH!!!!!

    ReplyReply

  37. Kylie
    Aug 23, 2009 @ 12:22:56

    I totally 100% agree with Ashleigh and with Tillie.

    I cried and cried when Kartik sacrificed himself, and even when I re-read that part I cried. And I never cry when I’m reading. After I finished the book, I re-read all the romantic parts between them, and the part when he turned into the tree. And with the one romantic part before they have to go save Tom, I was really pissed that the lady ended it, and at the Rakshana. I mean, couldn’t they have waited?? And that was like the last moment like that in the book.

    Fowlson should’ve sacrificed himself, because what else does he have to really live for? Sahirah’s dead, the Rakshana use him, and he’s just mean for letting Kartik do that. Poor Gemma.

    Libba Bray makes Gemma too independant. Seriously, she and Kartik are meant for each other, and she has to go back to him. She has to.

    I want Libba Bray to write a fourth book SOO bad!!! The way the book ended is the way that kinda pisses me off whenever a book ends like that. It has no closure really. I still love the book, it’s one of my all time faves, but a fourth should be written ASAP. I want Kartik and Gemma to be together so bad, and I’ve thought of countless ways for them to be together, but none of it’s good enough until Libba Bray makes it official, and writes the fourth book (SHE HAS TO WRITE IT).

    I won’t stop thinking about this book anytime soon, and I am still hoping for a fourth book. And for those of you who DON’T want a fourth, if she writes one, just don’t read it!

    ReplyReply

  38. bj
    Aug 24, 2009 @ 06:51:42

    ive just bought “The Sweet Far Thing” novel and was wonderin, can i read this one without readin or knowin anythin about the first two series?

    can anyone please answer me??!>.<

    ReplyReply

  39. bells
    Aug 31, 2009 @ 11:54:00

    i guess you could but why?
    The books are so so so good.
    Read them all!!!!!

    ReplyReply

  40. ashleigh
    Sep 01, 2009 @ 14:33:59

    i agree with bells. u won’t really get it completely if u dont read the first and second book and like bells said, they’re all AMAZING. man, i am sooooooooo glad that i am not the only one (3 weeks later) that is still crying over kartik. its rediculous and in school i’m thinking about it and wishing i could be gemma cuz i would act completely differently. i would try to find some way of getting kartik back. i mean, if gemma died and kartik lived, kartik would try with all his heart to get gemma back, but gemma just HAS to leave him:( its so sad. i want to reread the whole series again cuz it was so good. i can’t even think about starting another book cuz i dont think anything will EVER be as good as this trilogy. i loved it, absolutely LOVED it. please comment, like to know if people agree with my opinions!! :)

    ReplyReply

  41. Pauly
    Sep 26, 2009 @ 07:18:53

    Guys:you’re so right.
    This were the greatest books i’ve ever read in my life!!
    i was so into it!just felt like a girl who followed gemma everytime.
    at the end of the 3rd book i’ve cried:
    because it was such a great end
    and
    because it WAS the END!
    i just can’t believe it’s over now..i’d give everything to read just one more book of this serie!
    i just love Mrs.Bray’s way to write.Let’s find out her e-mail adress,guys! :D

    greeeetz from germany

    ReplyReply

  42. Ashleigh
    Oct 12, 2009 @ 15:38:33

    Yeah, Pauly, I came onto this website everyday after I read the book just because I didn’t want it to be over. Its now about 2 months after I’ve read it and I’m good now. I would like to recommend some books though. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is amazing!! And the second book called Catching Fire I read in a day. They’re great. The third book is still waiting to come, but the first two will keep you on your toes. Amazing. And another book is called Deadly Little Secret. I forget who its written by, but you can find it on books-a-million.com. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!!!
    -ash-

    ReplyReply

  43. Jia
    Oct 12, 2009 @ 15:56:16

    We have threads for the Suzanne Collins books, if you’re interested:

    The Hunger Games
    Catching Fire

    It’d be great to see some more discussion there.

    ReplyReply

  44. Ashleigh
    Oct 12, 2009 @ 15:58:10

    Oh! Awesome! I didn’t know that! I’ll go check it out :]

    ReplyReply

  45. Jia
    Oct 12, 2009 @ 16:34:36

    @Ashleigh: No problem. :)

    ReplyReply

  46. Ruby Moody
    Oct 21, 2009 @ 22:37:05

    OMG i love her books there just the best i mean like i was in my English 11 class and i just had to find a book and i picked Up A Great and Terrible Beauty and just fell in love with it. now i just can’t stop reading it!! But hat sucks is my school only has A great and terrible beauty and Rebel Angels so i can’t read the third one then i read the comments and Kirtik dies OMG OMg I can’t OMG I’m so going to cry my god
    well anyways love the books so much OMG I so can’t wait to read the third one even though i know whats going to happen it’s still sweet
    Kartik man damn well i don’t know I soo have to read that book

    ReplyReply

  47. Ruby Moody
    Oct 21, 2009 @ 22:42:43

    i forgot to add I hate putting the book down i’m almost done Rebel Angels but since my school doesn’t have The Far Sweet thing i put it down just so it wont end. most of my friends are tired of me talking about the books so i decided to write on this website. well anyways back to my book
    I don’t want it to end well peace

    ReplyReply

  48. Ashleigh
    Oct 22, 2009 @ 13:02:46

    @Ruby Moody: yeah, i felt the same way!! and you can buy the third one at books a million or barnes and noble. they’re absolutely amazing. best books i have ever read in my life.

    ReplyReply

  49. Karley Snow
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 14:01:25

    @Zeno:
    I guess you are correct, but I am madly in love with Kartik. He kept the reader wanting more…every character in the book thought Gemma as a curious folk, but WE already know sooooo much about her (because it is in first person) . If anything, to me, Kartik is the mysterious one. He comes back, but then leaves. Capturing Gemma’s heart and then breaking it. There is always something mysterious about him. Personally, I don’t like the fact that Kartik is left to live in the Tree of All Souls!!!! :( :( :( I love him soooo much, he was like the glue that keeps the pieces together (in this case, your interest + the story) . If I could say ANYTHING…please, Mrs.Libba Bray, please write another book!!!!!

    ReplyReply

  50. sumiyah
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 08:11:33

    ok yea i read all three books and am very disappointed at the end of the last book!!!! i know that everyone is saying how they would have never been able to be together….but they can still TRY…not turn him into a tree. the book made me cry at the end. (yea i get a lil sappy with romance books lol). i already knew he was going to turn into a tree before i read a sweet far thing.
    i went on this exact site, i think, looking for a summary about the book. i read too much and found out that MY kartik turns into a tree. I could never bring myself to read A Sweet Far Thing, since i knew that he would die. I still love you libba, but i was like nooooooo. even though its already said and done that there are only three books and its a gemma doyle trilogy, i think that she should surprise everyone and come out with a fourth book. that would definitely surprise everyone and they would definitely buy the novel. i just cannot make myself believe that this is it!! Kartik! dead!.
    and when they have the movie come out…i hope they have an attractive indian boy cause that would make everything sooo much better…and gemma has to be pretty too, of course, but not too much. kartik definitely kept me wanting to read more. soon as i turn the page and i see his name at the bottom, i skim through that page until i read his part. after that i go back to the top of the page and read everything more carefully. since like ninty-nine percent of the universe wants kartik back alive and for him and gemma to be together always and love each other always, then i think ms. bray should make an exception to the word “trilogy” and actually having four books.
    P.S. i hope libba bray reads my comment cause she needs to bring out another book

    ReplyReply

  51. sumiyah
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 09:34:06

    ok i just read each and every post you guys just said. i totally agree with zeno so much, and ashleigh, kajal, and gemma

    ZENO: independence theme was definitely pushed way too far. You can be independent and still love someone and be happy with them forever. gemma might as well be up in solitary confinement cause now she is soo alone. human beings are very social indeed. that is why we need friends, family, husbands, wives, pets, even strangers. hummanity cannot exist if we did not socialize with people and move to new york. maybe libba is trying to say that although life has a stupendis amount of hardships, you can still start over and try to pick yourself up and brush your shoulders. after all, that is exactly what she did right?/ WRONG!!! she, or gemma, will never be able to start “fresh”. no one can.we have memory locked up in out brains and we will remember stuff. scratches go away, but scars dont. and i am so happy you asked that Q. why cant a women be independent AND be with the love of their life? gemma could have been with them three ladies, but no. she though of kartik and decided to stay living on earth. she could have easily ate them stupid berries and forget all her trouble, but no she loved kartik. and for what. for him to be turned into a tree. that flabergasting.

    KAJAL: i like your endings by the way lol. and folwson should have been turned into the tree instead. HE had nothing left, not gemma. she had so much. kartik is definitely the more mysterious one. that is one reason why many of us girls love him. even though he makes us mad when he runs off, ignores gemma, or any of that, he still has that mysteriousness that makes even the most proudest of girls want him.

    GEMMA: lol i kept flipping through pages looking for his name. its like even my eyes loved when it say his name. i would skim through the pages and soon as my eyes see his name, my hand stops and i must read what happens. the cave of sighs was so perfect. all that was needed was for it to be real, and not some dream. and i loved it when gemma gave him magic and told him he could do anything. and instead of him turning stones into rubies, all he wanted to do is kiss her and be with her. he did not need magic for that. well maybe he does now since he’s stuck in a tree!! and ur right, she was not the one to agree with society rules which would make it even more fitting for her and kartik to be together. kartik dying and gemma running away is so not her. she would have eloped with him….just like the author did with her husband.

    ASHLEIGH: me too. i re read all the romantic parts too and i cried even on that. i kept thinking that this was it. after i read these parts with them still alive, there will be no more them alive, but only she alive.

    that is so true to whoever said this (i cant remember who) that if gemma was in the tree, he would have tried all his might to somehow get her back. for her to accept him in the tree and move to new york is strictly and plainly retarded!! he loved her to death. which is so perfect because kartik was a rough dude. he has been through a lot with amar dying, his dreams of gemma dying, being tortured by fowlson, fowlson telling gemma how he had her as a weak spot, rummaging through london and england to find food. he also felt alone in the world and so did gemma. they could be alone together, which would make them not alone! it was definitely embarrassing for kartik to have to go through fowlson telling gemma everything. that probably hurt his manhood. men need their manhood to stay alive. a women knowing his weaknesses makes him feel less protective and more vulnerable. they like the feeling of being the hero to their girl’s lives. they want her to feel safe around them and for her not to find a single fault within him that would make her think any less of him.
    also, someone said this too. how gemma did not like or prefer the life of married people. she did not want to be tied down. well it all depends on WHO she marries. kartik would not tie her down at all. and everytime marriage was brought up in the book, gemma thought of kartik. she would have loved to marry him. and kartik definitely would have loved to marry her. you can tell by his good dreams about her. the henna on her hands and feet, the bangles, the sari, the everything. he wanted to marry her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    and his bad dreams were sad. when he said that he could see amar in a distance and nomatter how much he ran, he could not keep up and then she died. that is almost exactly how it happened. in the winterlands, he was calling after gemma when she toughed the tree. he was chasing amar, but could not get closer. and she pretty much died (mentally). in order for her NOT to DIE, he sacrificed himself for her and yea. yes it was noble of him and cute that he felt that this was his destiny and yadda yadda yadda. but i did like the ending. i just dont like that it was the ending ending. if she comes out with a fourth book. fowlson should make gemma take him into the realms because he is sad and no one wants him anymore. in order for him to be closer to sahira in any way, he would have to be in the realms. fowlson could give himself to the tree and the tree could let go of kartik. and him and gemma could stay in new york and be married and have so much fun and romance!
    btw…that is grows how felicity is gay….ewww sorry but i did not like that part. but it did make sense why she valued freedom. her father rapes her and she is either gay or bi. of course she would never to be tied down and forced to do what ever socity wants her to do but still. gay?? come on now

    ReplyReply

  52. LEX
    Nov 15, 2009 @ 15:09:28

    OMg Why did karitik die? I cryed so hard. He was better than edward. LIBBA NEEDS A 4TH BOOK!

    ReplyReply

  53. LEX
    Nov 15, 2009 @ 15:09:57

    OMg Why did karitik die? I cryed so hard. He was better than edward. LIBBA NEEDS A 4TH BOOK! OMG OMG

    ReplyReply

  54. jj
    Nov 18, 2009 @ 17:49:19

    @Zeno: Well said. That was exactly what i was thinking. The end shocked me, and though I was so sad i cried. (which almost NEVER happens, aside from Sirius’ death in HP.) I understand why Libba ended things with Kartik and Gemma the way she did, but it just seems so harsh. It’s fantastic that Gemma will get the chance to live a new life in a new country freed of the restricting corsets and male prejudice, but knowing that she will always suffer and proabaly end up alone through it all is heartbreaking. At least she’ll get to be with Kartik when she dies (who’d have thought that would be the bright side?).

    ReplyReply

  55. Mandy carewell
    Nov 18, 2009 @ 21:26:54

    this review is amazing! nnd also thw book is amzing! both have great intelligence

    ReplyReply

  56. Mandy carewell
    Nov 18, 2009 @ 21:31:47

    LIBBA BRAY DEFFINATELY NEEDS TO MAKE A 4TH BOOK!!!! for money nd for us :)

    ReplyReply

  57. Lilly Anne
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 17:32:00

    I tottally agree. I am in love with these books! Oh and EVERYONE WHO READS THIS: re-read the entire ending (starting from when the battle starts) and put on:

    1. Fall For You- Second Hand Serenade
    2. Lover Dearest- Marianas Trench
    3. Your Guardian Angel- Second Hand Serenade
    4. Down- Jason Walker

    ReplyReply

  58. Lilly Anne
    Nov 19, 2009 @ 17:35:13

    Yeah sorry, I never finished what I was going to say. But seriously these songs make it that much better (actually NO only more depressing hahalol)

    Enjoy,
    Lilly-Anne

    ReplyReply

  59. Alex Setina
    Jan 13, 2010 @ 22:05:43

    Dear Libba Bray,
    I want to thank you for the Gemma Doyle series. I really enjoyed reading them and I want to thank you for writing them. Thank you for writing them and I have read them like 5 times and I love them. Every time I read them I find some thing new.
    You are one of my favorite authors. I love your books a lot and I hope there will be more. When I first read the books I cried when Pippa died then I cried at the end of the third book when Kartik went into the tree. I am reading the Gemma books again. I really hope there is more books soon. I hope that I will discover more and more details and things as I read the books again.
    Sincerely yours,
    Alex Setina

    this is a school project that i had to do but i do lovr your books and cant wait to read the fourth one if there is one

    ReplyReply

  60. Bella
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 14:58:34

    OK I have fell in love with this book a long time ago and just recently i reread the series. The ending made me cry AGAIN! For me, thats saying something. Now whenever I’m bored I can only read up to the part where Gemma, Kartik, Felcity, Ann, Sariah, and Fowlson go into the realms, because I can’t read that part it just makes me so sad :( I really wish libba Bray would write a seventh book!!!!! I would make a shrine to her and bow down to it everyday! (Ok, not really but you get the picture.)
    Did anyone ever find out her email?

    ReplyReply

  61. jingle
    May 08, 2010 @ 13:37:35

    @Kajal: Sorry this is like three years late but I KNOW, RIGHT!! Jeez, does she seriously just leave Kartik as a tree and go off to America without a second thought! And the ending so sooo bad! Like, talking about dreaming off him and crying and then its over! Ugh! I had the same idea of trying to find her email, but it didn’t really work. i REALLY need her email. i mean, even if they don’t become back together, they should be able to communicate or something! at least epose their love somehow. Kartik was totally my fav character and without him i hate the series. i would always look ahead to see when kartik would come into the book. btw, have you seen the trailer for the movie? EWWW!!! Kartik is so old!! i wish i could cast the movie and make it myself cause i am sure i would do a better job! anyway, if you are reading this libba, PLEASE WRITE US A FOURTH BOOK WITH KARTIK IN IT!!

    ReplyReply

  62. Yama
    May 08, 2010 @ 15:54:14

    @jingle: I can completely agree with you! I mean, everyone says that Libba didn’t take the easy way out, but killing Kartik killed the theme of race doesn’t matter. It made me feel like Gemma wouldn’t have to hid her love anymore and so that was a burden lifted off of her. Oh, and how can Kartik and Gemma be together when she dies because Kartik isn’t dead, he is stuck in the relams as a tree! and why can’t he give Gemma power when she touches the tree, like Eugenia with the power? I don’t know, it was a weird ending and it seems like a ton of unfinished information. I also was really bored with the part at the end of the book, the debut, it seemed out of place. Please respond, i would like to know what people think. Thanks for the comment jingle and others!!

    ReplyReply

  63. Pradheepa
    Aug 18, 2010 @ 12:07:52

    @Jamie:

    I agree. This book is convoluted, dreary, dull and disappointing. I could empathize with Gemma’s confusion about whom to share the magic of the realm with. Gemma and her friends are sometimes irritating, but in the first two books of this series, the desire to know what happens next was sufficient to let me tolerate their immaturity. Unfortunately in the last book, everything that happens simply made me wish to have it all end soon. It would have been better if Gemma could have trusted Kartik completely. Kartik could have given her some guidance on how to use the magic, given that he is least interested in wanting to use it for his own purposes and given that Gemma seems too immature to handle all the magic on her own. That would have made the book less bleak. Also, the author should have made a sharp distinction between spirits who are in the thrall of the dark forces (like Euginea, Amar)because of the sacrifices they made and those who in some sense are willing to become corrupted in order to obtain power like Circe. I had enjoyed the first two books of the series. But, reading this book made it all seem to have been a waste of time.

    ReplyReply

  64. Kathryn
    Oct 20, 2010 @ 19:41:47

    I absolutely adored this series! love the review!! i just wish there would be more books to come. It contains 2 of my favorite things in a book: takes place in the victorian era and there’s magic involved.
    i just have one question:
    does anyone know the themes in this last novel?

    ReplyReply

  65. Alix
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 15:04:52

    @Yama:
    sorry, but “killing Kartik killed the theme of race doesn't matter” is not true at all. Is it just me, or does it seem like no one can understand that he did that so SAVE Gemma because he loved her that much? i don’t think it’s that hard to believe………

    ReplyReply

  66. Libba Bray’s The Sweet Far Thing (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #3) | Jorie's Reads by Starry Night Elf
    May 13, 2013 @ 20:41:48

    [...] REVIEW: The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray – Dear Author [...]

Leave a Reply


6 + 5 =

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: