Thursday, July 4, 2013

Book Review: Far Far Away

Far Far AwayAuthor: Tom McNeal
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

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. . .

Young adult veteran Tom McNeal (one half of the writing duo known as Laura & Tom McNeal) has crafted a novel at once warm-hearted, compulsively readable, and altogether thrilling--and McNeal fans of their tautly told stories will not be disappointed.

In the old tales, kindness is the purest form of heroism. Find the character who meets the world with a big heart and an open hand and you have found your hero or heroine.

I was there to protect this boy – that was my sole reason for coming to this village – but, truly, he lived so much in isolation. I myself had investigated the bakery and found it harmless. It was time that he saw this as well, and, besides, what harm could come from a visit to the bakery in the company of three pretty girls?

But wait! – I will offer you an example, for a Jeremy and the girls amble toward the Green Oven Bakery, an opportunity to illustrate his strange abilities will soon present itself.

These were properly called Prinsesstarta, or Princess Cakes. But the baker, an immigrant from Sweden, soon observed that only the women were purchasing his Princess Cakes, so he changed the name to Prince Cakes in hopes that the men might consume them, too. The strategy succeeded – there was always a great rush to buy the cakes by men and women alike.

Our narrator in this story is none other than the famous Jacob Grimm, of the duo known as the Grimm Brothers. He is, of course, a ghost whom follows Jeremy Johnson Johnson around and hopes to protect him from the dreaded Finder of Occasions, a man whose identity is unknown but poses a threat specifically to Jeremy. Now Jeremy has always been considered a little strange, and if you understood his family you might just understand why. In this magical tale he pairs up with a girl and his trusty ghost as he ventures around the town of Never Better looking for magic, but will it find him first?

One of my favorite movies is The Brothers Grimm, which came out a few years ago. I was hoping that this book would have the same mysterious, creepy, but at time happy feeling as that movie. I was happily surprised and enchanted by just how much this story felt like a Grimm Brother’s fairy tale. There were very thrilling and chilling moments where the story suddenly became dark and eerie, but then there were other moments that were so happy that only the magic of fairy tales could have produced them!

For me, and only in my opinion, this book got off to a slow start. I found myself confused and wanting more answers. This is the first book that I have ever read by Tom McNeal, but I am starting to think that this may just be his style. I had so many questions at the start of the book and I often found myself going back and forth trying to understand how this tied in to anything. However, later in the book the events start spiraling right into place. I was pleased with where it went after the first few small chapters.

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Knopf Books for Young Readers in exchange for my honest review***

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