Thursday 29 June 2017

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Review: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Furthermore by Tahereh MafiFurthermore by Tahereh Mafi (Bought) - Colour and magic combine in this enchanting new middle grade fantasy from the bestselling author of the Shatter Me series.

Born as blank as canvas in a world brimming with colour and magic, Alice's pale skin and milk-white hair mark her as an outcast. Because, for the people of Ferenwood, colour and magic are one and the same. And since the disappearance of her beloved father, Alice is more determined than ever to prove herself and her own magical abilities.

To do so she'll have to travel into the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, with the help of a fiercely annoying boy named Oliver. But nothing in Furthermore is as it seems, and it will take all of Alice's wits to find her father and return him safely home.
From Goodreads.

I bought Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi after reading a sample and falling in love with the storytelling. As beautiful as it was, however, it's not exactly my kind of story.

Let's talk positives first, though. I loved the storytelling. It's absolutely enchanting, and I was completely under Mafi's spell. The story is told in third person, but there is a narrator - a narrator telling the reader the story, who has opinions and shares asides, and occasionally acknowledges and talks directly to the reader. I loved Alice, she was such a great character; strong and determined in some ways, yet also full of self-doubt and self-esteem problems. I loved how all the characters talked, as if they had just walked out of Downton Abbey. And I loved the general message the story conveyed about body image and self-confidence.
'Anyway, it wasn't that she needed anyone to like her.It was just that she already liked herself so much and found herself so very interesting (and smart and creative and nice and funny and friendly and genuine) that she really couldn't understand why it wasn't easier for her to fit in.And besides, Alice thought she was very pretty.Her hair didn't have any color or shape to it, but there wasn't anything wrong with it. It didn't talk or spit on people or accidentally kick small children in the toes.And her skin had no color or luster to it, but it covered all her inside parts, and it wasn't foul or sticky or covered in fur.' (p37)
'"Darling Alice," [Father] said, reaching for her. "Why must you look like the rest of us? Why do you have to be the one to change? Change the way we see. Don't change the way you are."' (p254)
Just gorgeous, right? I love it, and I love what Furthermore had to say on the topic as they book ended.

However, the basic plot of this story is one I've come across a number of times before, and one I just don't enjoy. It's the plot where a person has a task to complete in some other strange world, and to complete that task, they must get from A to Z, but to get to Z, they must stop at B and C and D and so on, and at each place there is an obstacle, some danger, that stops them from continuing until they can somehow get around/defeat it - and not only that, everything is very, very odd. Think Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll or Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova. Furthermoer is really a very imaginative story, and I loved the wordplay that created some of the obstacles - the things we say about time, for example - but this type of story just isn't one I enjoy. I find the stop-start, stop-start of the story very frustrating.

Saying that, as a middle grade novel, I could see how the target audience would really enjoy this story. It is captivating and enchanting, and really quite beautiful. It's just not the kind of story I enjoy, sadly.

The Ramadan Readathon

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi has been reviewed as part of the Ramadan Readathon.

Add to Goodreads

Published: 1st September 2016
Publisher: Puffin
Tahereh Mafi's Website

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