Saturday, June 15, 2013

Far Far Away By Tom McNeal Book Review

Disclosure- I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book: 

It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn't even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he's able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it's been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn't been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically  one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, The Brothers Grimm. Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings. . . 

My thoughts:

I thought that the premise of this book was a unique take on the fantasy/young adult genre, so I was definitely on board to check it out. The book starts of pretty strong introducing us to many characters that will be a huge part of Jeremy's story. I loved that this novel was told from the point of view of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, it added a nice twist and a different voice to a story meant for children. It also made me smile to see bits of German peppered throughout the book. This is something I definitely would have been into reading in middle school back in the day. Anyway, after the strong beginning I felt the middle was kind of lacking, that there was a lot of unnecessary filler. I was also annoyed by the super nerve grating character of Ginger. She made it feel at times like I was reading a novel of a Scooby Doo mystery rather than a sophisticated tale from the ghost of Jacob Grimm. I rode it out because I loved the idea of the story line and I am glad I did, the last half of the book was phenomenal. I felt it was entirely different from the first half of the book, but I guess if the entire book would have been like the end, it might have been too much emotionally for a younger grade reader. The book almost starts out on a light note of Jeremy and the two book store he lives in, followed mid-book by a game show appearance and then eases into the scarier part of Jeremy's tale all the while Jacob is looking over him and guiding him as best he can. Since this is a Grimm related novel, it's not all rays of sunshine, but you will have to read the book to find out if Jeremy gets a happy ending or if another fate is in store for him. I thought this was a great book that would be enjoyed by middle grade readers and adults alike. 

About the author:

Tom McNeal holds an MA in creative writing from UC Irvine and was a Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University. He is the author, with his wife, Laura, of four young adult novels published by Knopf: Crooked, Crushed, The Decoding of Lana Morris, and Zipped. His adult titles include Goodbye, Nebraska and To Be Sung Underwater. He lives with his wife and two sons in Southern California.

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