There are two things you may not know about us: 1. We don’t read a whole lot of middle grade, 2. We are absolutely, positively obsessed with Tahereh Mafi‘s Shatter Me series, from start to finish. So, when we heard Furthermore was on the horizon, we begged, cried and threw tantrums until our favorite bookstore gave us an ARC to quiet us down. Our review is after the jump.

 

From the book flap:

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. Her only companion is a boy named Oliver whose own magical ability is based in lies and deceit—and with a liar by her side in land where nothing is as it seems, 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.

 

Overall:  In reviewing the Goodreads reviews for Furthermore, I would be remiss without beginning with this caveat: this book is NOT Shatter Me.  If that’s what you want, well, you’ll be sorely disappointed.  Tahereh herself has already mentioned this in her EW cover reveal, “I spent three years writing the Shatter Me books, confined by the dark, cold, broken world wherein my protagonist was mentally and physically trapped. I love those books and their revolutionary importance in my life, but it was hard to stay dark for so long, especially as I stretched and evolved as a person.”

My second PSA is this:  This is a Middle Grade book, MG to all those in the know.

You have been warned and now that we’re all on the same page, let’s talk Furthermore.

When we pull together an outfit, we not only worry about our clothes, but which accessories we will gather to create this ensemble.  Do the shoes enhance the mood or hinder?  Will our necklace and earrings elevate the look? Do we add bracelets?  Should we go without jewelry all together?  How about a belt?  When the selections are seemingly endless, the task of pulling together an outfit can be daunting, especially in light of the location of the event, what the expected dress code might be and what you expect the crowd to be wearing. When you’re trying to balance the line between Coco Chanel and just coo coo, taking just the right amount of risk matters and Tahereh Mafi has mixed her couture just right with her down-market trends because Furthermore hits all the right points.

And this is where I begin my actual review of Furthermore, dear reader–wanting to fit in while maintaining your sense of self. Let me introduce you to Alice Alexis Queensmeadow, a young girl who stands out, not just because of her sense of style, but because she is absolutely the absence of color in a world filled with it.  She takes pride in the way she looks, but she also is filled with anxiety of not being accepted, and mourns the loss of her father who just disappeared one day.  These insecurities and obstacles way heavily on her, and let’s not even mention dreaded Oliver Newbanks.  I should also mention–she may be the only nonmagical creature in a Ferrenwood.

Ferrenwood and Furthermore, where the majority of the action in the book takes place, are very visual places.  Where Ferrenwood is an ordinary town splashed everywhere with color, Furthermore is like a combination of Wonderland and The Chocolate Factory–beautiful, confusing, with rules, rules and more rules to keep visitors completely confused.  However, you ARE given informational pamphlets upon entry.  To me, the world-building is the stand-out part of this book.  It is the third main character that Alice and Oliver must survive and interact with, but that also, almost literally, reaches out and snatches them at certain points. It’s beautiful and ugly and confusing and tricky, everything a journey is likely to be and it’s a joyous metaphor for the journey to adulthood.

To me, the most shocking thing about Furthermore is how incredibly CUTE it is.  It is a charming and precious Middle Grade book, full of wonder and magic, sure to brighten the bookshelf of your pre-tween reader.

 

Judge a Book by its Cover:  This cover is a vortex of color and mysteries illustrations.  What can it all mean??  Also, it’s eye-catching and reminiscent of many of Mafi’s We Still Write in Cursive photo shoots, don’t you think?

 

Me Talk Pretty:  Mafi’s lush prose brings to life this fantastical, magical world.  Told through an omniscient narrator, this novel is just absolutely beautifully written and full of ‘Dear Reader’ asides.  We received an ARC ahead of publication for review, so please understand that our favorite quotes below may not be in their final version.

“Unfold your heart. Sharpen your ears. And never say no to the world when it asks you to dance.”

“Change the way we see. Don’t change the way you are.”

 

Kick-Ass Factor:  Alice Alexis Queensmeadow is a feisty little thing.  No lack of pigment or magic will get her down and when it comes to rescuing her father, there isn’t much she won’t do.  She’s a little careless at times, so we’ll keep the casualty number a secret because this book doesn’t come out for a while.

 

Don’t Believe the Hype:  Mafi has transitioned beautifully to a MG author and being so young, we foresee a full and bright future, whatever genre she decides to write.  This book is a must pre-order for ALL Mafi fans (see below)!

 

Open tab/Last call:  This is a middle grade book, so I don’t think it would be appropriate to meet with Tahereh at a bar to celebrate, so, instead, we’ll do something MG-appropriate:  I will definitely buy her a chocolate chip cookie from Crumb and Get It and NOT snatch it from her hands as we cheer this delightful little tome.

 

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi is scheduled to be released on August 30, 2016 on Dutton Books for Young Readers, 416 pages.  You can pre-order your copy here.

 

~Carmen

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