An 832 page-final-installment-of-an-award-winning-fantasy-series is no small undertaking. I am also referring to reading it. I started before Christmas and had to stop when I left for vacation and knew I would 1-hate carrying it around and 2-not have time to read anyway. I read this book hungrily. Gemma is a rich character and I love love love to read her. I couldn’t stop turning pages and yet it felt like I was making no progress. This is exactly how I felt reading HP7. What more could she put in our path? Another twist! Another mystery! That was who?! I almost couldn’t take it. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I am a page sneaker. I page snuck for this book. Fowlson, folks, Fowlson! He freaks me out.
But I did get spoiled unexpectedly. I read Libba Bray’s blog with Bloglines. I hearts Bloglines. I came to her post about answering questions in the comments section and thought, great – I’ll go back and read that when I’m finished. The next day I read her post thinking all would be fine because spoilers would be in the comments, but somehow Bloglines showed two lines which revealed 2 words that rocked my reading. It’s probably karma for being a sneaker, but darn it if I didn’t want to see what is perhaps the biggest of the big spoilers.
Like Harry, I was often frustrated with Gemma’s behavior towards the seriousness of having to decide what to do with all the magic. Whereas Harry had great sidekick help from Hermoine and Ron, Gem has Felicity, Pip & Ann. Fee and Pip continue their irksome self-absorbed whining. Ann, a little better, is often swayed by the others. Additionally, like Harry, Gemma doesn’t know who to trust or what information to trust. It’s to the author’s credit that she works this so masterfully. We are in the same boat as Gemma (though there are hints which I defy most readers to pick up on) and what a wild ride it is to uncover the truth. We have a few new characters, but the best developments involve the characters we know, or think we know. My head still hurts just thinking about how stressed out I was over this. As I mentioned before, the barrage of new information can be wearisome, but the story is addictive.
Finally, underneath this excellent fantasy (and hot romance!) story resides a solid foundation of social awareness. Gemma’s observations on sex roles, class, politics and war are very much central points of this book. I am sure many teens will be far more captivated by the fantasy and romance than the social commentary, but I hope it isn’t entirely lost on them. I hope that the messages of free will, justice, and their own power to make change in the world find a way into their lives.
*fun bit* check out this Victorian Fact Sheet and the books the author read in preparation for writing.