SPOILER FREE REVIEW
Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com):
A captivating and colorful adventure that reads like a modern day fairy tale, from the bestselling author of the Shatter Me series.
Inspired by her childhood love of books like The Secret Gardenand The Chronicles of Narnia, bestselling author Tahereh Mafi crafts a spellbinding new world where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places.
There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.
But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. It will take all of Alice’s wits (and every limb she’s got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.
Goodreads Rating: 4.02/5 Stars
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
The first thing that I have to say about this book is: Dang, my head hurts. As one of my booktuber’s said in his review, this book was whimsical and the world was very confusing – and I have to agree with him on that. It took me over a month to read this book, which was surprising to me because I can usually read middle grade books in a matter of days.
I went into this book loving Taherah Mafi’s writing style and curious about what type of middle grade book she had produced for all of us. After reading this book, I still love Taherah, but I definitely enjoyed her Shatter Me trilogy better than this standalone. What surprised me the most was the difficulty level of this book. I was expecting something more along the lines of Rick Riordan or Harry Potter, and instead I walked away with my head hurting and I found it hard to want to pick up the book and read.
Primarily, I think this was due to world of Furthermore, which is where we spent the majority of our time. It was a rather complicated world for even myself, a college student, to understand. Nothing made sense and everything was backwards and most of the time, just thinking about the world gave me a headache (even as we speak, I do have a headache, but for different reasons). It felt like we had been thrown into a weird cross of Wonderland-Narnia-Oz-and Animal Crossing. If those four got together and, ya know, Furthermore would have definitely been the result.
Another reason why I got that Wonderland feel, I believe, was because the main character’s name was Alice. I’m not sure if that was accidental or purposefully done, but that brought in quite a few distractions for myself because I kept associating that name with other stories. However, I ended up liking Alice a lot, especially when the story became not only about her adventure, but also about the personal journey she was on as well. This story did well in being a heartwarming tale about friendship, identity, and bringing your family back together again. Oliver and Alice, our heroes, definitely worked well for this story and for the message they were giving to young readers.
Nevertheless, I wanted more and less from this book. I wanted more information about the world – it was never fully explained, which caused my confusion – and less time spent in Furthermore. I’ll tell you why I wanted less time in Furthermore: I also wanted to explore Ferenwood, the main world where Alice and Oliver lived. In addition, through spending less time in Furthermore, we could have gotten more resolution as well. We spent 390 pages on a grand adventure in a confusing land, just to get 11 pages of resolution.
Overall, it was clear that Taherah put a lot of time and love into this middle grade fairy tale. But, there were many elements that were still messy and unclear, even for an adult reader. I’m not sure if this is due to my imagination not being as great as it used to be or if it’s for another reason, but this novel was definitely not what I fully expected it to be.
I still will be anxiously waiting for Taherah to release another book in the future, but for now I think I will take a break from middle grade reads and return to the realm of young adult literature!
“She’d decided long ago that life was a long journey. She would be strong and she would be weak, and both would be okay.”
― Tahereh Mafi,