Stephanie's Reviews > The Sweet Far Thing

The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
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Dec 04, 2013

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bookshelves: young-adult
Recommended for: NO ONE!
Read in January, 2008

** spoiler alert ** I am utterly distraught by this book. My first hour free of it's torture I was a ball of fury. Nothing made sense, the writing was crappy, and I had so many questions. My poor husband didn't want to come near me and I didn't want to talk to anyone.

I had such high hopes for this book. Kartik and Gemma would finally find a way to be together, the magic of the realms would be figured out and dealt with, and Felicity and Ann would finally become real friends of Gemma's or else be rid of. I definitely expected a little bir more maturity to be given out by those girls, at least by Gemma, because generally when a person is given a large amount of responsibility, despite their age, and consciously decides that they need to live up to it, they don't act like retarded and petty 12 year olds.

Here are just a few of my troubles...

Why the crap does Kartik turn into a tree? This doesn't make any sense. I understand the sacrifice that he is making, but there is no sign that the magic can't be dealt with in another way until the very point where Libba Bray turns him into a tree. It is retarded. There is no sense in this, unless her goal was to piss people off.

Why are Pippa and Felicity lesbian lovers? I don't get this at all. Some people have mentioned in their reviews that they saw signs of this coming. Whatever signs they saw seemed like normal female friendship to me, especially for Victorian period writing. Besides the fact I think that it was just silly, the kiss was random and out of some teenage boys lesbian lovers fantasy. DUMB! I however, was satisfied when Felicity chose the good side, despite her love for Pippa, who has always irritated me.

The writing was just bad. For someone who has published 2 books already, the writing should have been much better. The plot should have been thought out. The dialogue should have been less George Lucas inspired (by this I am referring to his ability to make very good actors sound like dunces).

I am very frustrated by how poorly the magic of the realms was understood. Obviously Circe was evil, but how did she turn out to be so much better than the the people who were supposed to be good and why did she make so much more sense? Bray turns the evil person back to good - to a degree - and than she turns Kartik into a tree? Whatever!

My final annoyance for this review is that of Bray's obsession with womens rights. Holy crap, she went a bit overboard don't you think? I thought to myself at one point that maybe it was just me and that I was a little sensitive to people and their soap boxes... until at the very end Gemma's last request for the girls to be taught how to think for themselves and blah-blah-blah. Thinking for yourself is not at all a bad idea, but honestly. Themes like that are supposed to be thought provoking, not obnoxiously present.

There are so many, many things that I find very wrong with this book. It was a very huge disappointment. I expected so much more than what I was given here.

There were enough good things that I finished the book, but I definitely would not recommend it to anyone.
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Reading Progress

02/06 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-40 of 40) (40 new)

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Nikki I totally agree with most of what you said, though I didn't think the writing was all that bad. So I really can't figure out why I still liked it so much. Something subliminal perhaps. Maybe I just liked the make-out scenes. ;)


Xanmarknayden I totally agree with you on this one...I really wanted her and Kartick to end up together and I didn't get the tree thing at all. I actually had to re-read that part b/c I was totally confused at where in the hell that came from! I also wanted more from Gemma I always thought she was pathetic and I hated how Felicity and Ann were sketchy friends.., I also hated Pippa I thought she was so stupid and I hated how she would blame Gemma for leaving her when she clearly chose to stay...that is why it made no since for her and Fee to be lesbians at the end! If they wanted to be together they should have run away to Paris together, and stop saying you want a knight to take you away. Anyway, I didn't feel like the story was over, yet it was the last book... when I read a series I expect to be fulfilled.


Molly Ok, maybe its the hopeless romantic in me, but I felt totally ripped off that Kartick and Gemma didn't end up together. So, I've decided to forget the published ending and make my own up! And, Nikki, the make-out scenes were nice =)


JoLee I'm so glad that you commented about the feminist/ women's rights aspects of the book. In a book about 1895 England, all the feminist rants felt a bit contrived, heavy handed, and very anachronistic. This was something that really bugged me that I failed to mention in my own review. I guess I felt liked I'd complained enough.


Rach I agree with ALL of the above statements. After all of back and forths between Gemma and Kartik's relationship, I am sooooo mad that they didnt end up together. I must admit that I am an absolute loser and cried for about 1 hour and a half after finishing the book because i was so upset that they were separated (and the whole tree deal was just UNBELIEVEBLY RIDICULOUS). I agree with all of the comments above, except for the writing was alright, though not amazing. And at the end, why does she go to New York and just give up on the realms. Yah, she says she's going back, but in years? Let's just say that was an awful ending. Period.


Melissa I just finished reading this book and i actually cried. Not because i was sad but because i was so frustrated by Libba Bray.


message 7: by maryclaire (last edited Feb 02, 2009 02:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

maryclaire i cried when i finished this book because i was so distraught that kartik turned in to a fricken tree!! what is up with that i agree with most of your thoughts. this book was nothing i thought it would be. although i would reccomend it to people


Catrina Thank you! I cried too because I was so freaking MAD that I had wasted my time reading this book and didn't get a happy ending.


Heidi Wow Stephanie! Your review mirrors my feelings about this book EXACTLY right down to the hour of fury and the frightened husband! I'm glad we can all commiserate together and imagine our own HAPPY endings to the story.


message 10: by May (new) - rated it 1 star

May I feel the same way. If I could demand my money back from the author for simply being COMPLETELY disappointed, this would definitely be the occasion to do so.


Erika I have not read the whole book just yet, I'm on page 308. But... do help me! My sister read to page 500 and something, but she did put the book down for the same reason I did. It's insane. Why on earth should Kartik turn into a tree.
For me it seems that Libba has been lost in her own story. And lost in this kinda way, that she has lost the connection with earth. The plot through the first two books are very well-written, but this one is a mess. I have just finished Brinsigr by Christoffer Paolini, and starting on The Sweet Far Thing again is like a slap in the face.

I know I cannot compare the two books on genre, but I can and I will on how they are written. I think the most important thing in writing a book is to write understandable, of course, and to write a plot which is easily followed, and leaves the reader with a feeling of something missing when they stop reading.
Let me put it this way: I would rather run 50 km's then start reading this book again. But however I would like to see how bad it gets.

I do write myself, but I stop writing the same instant I feel my text slip out of reach. I have to pull myself back to the origin plot. In this book, there is no plot! I do not look forward to the next 500 pages!


Raquel all of you are so right. what got me the most ANGRY was the fact that i stuck around for 3 BOOKS!!!!!

3 BOOKS! and than what does she do? turn Kartrick into a TREE!
I'm trying to get Libba's email adress or contact info to give her A PEICE OF MY MIND..( than ending shud be illegal!) but i cant find it...


Nicole I completely agree with all of you about how ridiculous it is that Kartik is now a tree. He was the best character in the whole book, and now he has to spend eternity as a tree! While Circe gets to go on to the place of glory or whatever? Nonsense. I was hysterical because I was so upset.
I was annoyed at the part where Gemma talks to Circe for "hours" and "understands" the magic afterward, yet reading it I was like, 'Are you planning on explaining it to me??' But nope.


Raquel too true, nicole. (cool name, btw) I was confused, bewildered and maddened by the whole story. I wish someone would kinda rewrite a normal ending (or maybe a whole new 4th book) where gemma's life would turn out the way WE want it to.
i mean, Bray makes us stick around for 3 books and then she totally kills all the characters. horrible.


Nicole Thank you =) I completely agree. The only reason I kept reading was because I wanted to know what happened to them in the end, and I was very disappointed. There was no closure.


Becky I just finished it! and i am mad about The Kartik thing!! ahhh!! Why did it have to be him?!! I wish it was Pippa who was the tree....uhggg


Natty I LOVED IT!!!!! i thought it wasn't confusing.... I can't figure out were it would be. I thought it was beautifully written, romantic, and adventurous.


message 18: by Andrea (new)

Andrea I just read the first book and decided the series was not worth finishing (rare for me to not finish a series) and, luckily, amazon let me return the 2nd and 3rd books I had bought for my kindle. After reading your review, I'm even more glad I have not spent more time o this. Thanks! :)


Becky I totally agree with what you said. This was 800+ pages of Gemma waffling around like an idiot. And who turns their romantic lead into a tree? I was so disappointed in what could have been an amazing book.


Ruthanne I agree with everything you said about this book. I felt this book was very slow. I got bored with all the debut, masquerade talk. I wanted more action, or at least to know more about the realms and the magic. I felt when it started to get good was about 600+ pages in. I also thought a lot of things came out of left field - Pippa and Felicity, Circe and Gemma's new found feminism. Oh, don't even get me started on Kartik. I had to re-read that about three times to fully understand what occurred. In the end, I felt I had more questions than answers. The girls pretty much got what they wanted in the end. It would be interesting to see if Bray will revisit Gemma and company in the future.


Heather The massive amounts of historical detail intrigued me in this book, so I didn't mind the 800 pages for that. Like everybody else, though, I *did* mind Kartik getting absorbed by the tree. I agree that Pippa would have made a much better tree (or maybe Felicity, since Pippa should have been taken out with a shotgun as soon as she became undead).


Annabelle Marie Veronica I totally agree with your entire review. I, too, had amazingly high hopes, and I absolutely hated the ending! It was awful. I hated that Kartik had to turn into a tree… that should never had happened! I didn't understand why Pippa and Felicity had to be lovers. It didn't really contribute to the story. It would have been fine if they were just close friends. Thank you for a straightforward, honest review that I can totally relate to!


message 23: by Rey (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rey WTF, that's all I can say. spent the last hr crying that Kartik turned into a FREAKIN' TREE!!! I feel like I wasted hrs of my life. wat a terrible ending.


message 24: by Esme (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esme During the 800 pages, it kept me on my toes and at the end it left me drained and quite confused as to how I felt. I knew I was mad that Kartik had become a tree and something in me was also mad that Gemma had gone to New York...I could see her actually going to somewhere like Paris, not New York, where society was even more corseted than London's!!! Also it doesn't help that I'm not too keen on America


message 25: by Esme (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esme The writing wasn't that bad and I thought it was quite clever, although obscure and a bit silly, that all the 'good' people were bad and the 'bad' people good.


message 26: by Esme (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esme I HATE PIPPA


Meann I just finished the three books in a span of about... a week (I can only read at night). And I do agree with you regarding the very obvious feminist views.

I thought that if she really wanted to illustrate Gemma's feminist tendencies or her rebellion against London society, she should've eloped to India with Kartik in the end and became a teacher or something like that. :P


Gabriella I still like the trilogy, but I found the books to be so hopelessly confusing. I've read the 1st and 2nd two times and still don't completely understand it. I only read the 3rd cuz I had invested so much time into the series. But yeah, I completely agree with you. I'd give this book 2.5 stars if I could.


message 29: by Heather (last edited Jan 06, 2011 07:05PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Heather About three months after reading this book, I can only conclude that Libba Bray is an irresponsible writer. I found her blog and read her post about why she chose to end the book that way, and she didn't really have a good answer other than "because sometimes life is awful and you have to go on." She basically needed to work through a lot of pain and angst from a life-shattering car accident that she was in when she was 18 years old, after which she had to learn to live again. It is sad that it happened to her, but her mission now seems to be to force young women to experience that same sensation that she had by reading this story, whether it makes sense as part of the plot or not. I'd say stay away from this car wreck of a book... there are plenty of devastating things in life from which you'll have to learn to move on without having to deal with it in your entertainment too.


Annabelle Marie Veronica I seriously have the way I would have written the ending all planned out in my head. And okay, maybe it's gushy and a little too over-the-top romantic, but it is WAY better than what Libba Bray chose to write! The only reason I gave this book four stars is because I thought that she did do a good job with the description, like the beautiful scenes with Gemma and Kartik. Unfortunately, the ending just ruined everything. It was so unnecessary.


Marit Boeken met het einde was ik het ook niet echt eens, maar goed, het is nu zo.
maar dan toch...
ik vind dat de proloog nog verhaal was.
en in de proloog dan moest staan hoe gemma zou zijn in de toekomst 10-20 jaar later. het verhaal zou dan pas een echt slot hebben nu ligt het nog zo'n beetje 'open'


message 32: by Kyrstin (new)

Kyrstin They were lovers because Felicity was abused by her father and as such, couldn't stand men. Not all people deal with power very well, Gemma was very human. Saying that this book was terrible assumes that you could do better, which I sincerely doubt.


message 33: by Sara (new)

Sara Elizabeth ugh. I read a quarter of this book and gave up. I read your review and now I'm kind of glad I did. I really didn't have a firm grasp on the world and the magic in the books and my patience wore thin.


Pidge I totally agree with this comment, amen!


message 35: by Book (new) - added it

Book Lover I agree!! I hated the ending the most, though, because I truly thought that Gemma and Kartik will be able to be together, but she just lets him go!!!why?? god, I hated it!!


Jennifer I am laughing so hard reading this review and the comments because I feel so validated! I bought and read this book immediately after it came out. Years later, the only things I remember from this book are an undercurrent of frustration and dismay/anger at Kartik's fate.


Jennifer I am laughing so hard reading this review and the comments because I feel so validated! I bought and read this book immediately after it came out. Years later, the only things I remember from this book are an undercurrent of frustration and dismay/anger at Kartik's fate.


Chandra Laos I just finished this book today and I've been pissed all day at what she made happen to Kartik! Totally stupid. The book wasn't half bad till the end and now I'm just mad. Shouldn't have ended that way.


Sabine Keller Signed and agreed. My thoughts were : what the hell is going on? When Karten was turned into a tree.

Plus it doesn't make sense - the tree existed previously workout being 'inhabitated" - why is there now a need to have him locked up there?


message 40: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Nailed it! Thanks for saving me the read. I can't get over the tree part and to hear the girls are still stupid teens. Legit thanks. You just gave me back a few hours of my life.


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