I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on August 30th 2016
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
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The bestselling author of the Shatter Me series takes readers beyond the limits of their imagination in this captivating new middle grade adventure 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. 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 a 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.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series. When I received the ARC of her new middle grade book from YALLWEST, I was unsure if I would enjoy it – but I wanted to give it a shot! Middle grade fantasy is what got me into reading as a kid, and I still love to read it to this day, so I was hopeful I would enjoy it. I’m really glad I picked up this book because it was a fun adventure in a unique world!
If there is one word out there to describe this world, it’s CREATIVE. This world is so unique and unlike anything I’ve read before. I loved so many thing about it, especially how color tied into the magic system. This world is whimsical and weird – it had a very “Alice in Wonderland” feel! I think if you like Alice in Wonderland retellings, there is a good chance you would enjoy this book (even though it isn’t actually a retelling). The world building was definitely my favorite part of this book.
Alice was a fun character to get to know. She is smart and brave and I really admired her determination to find her father. Alice was willing to do whatever it tok to save her father, no matter what roadblocks she ran into along the way. Oliver, on the other hand, drove me nuts! Oliver didn’t have much dimension to him in my opinion and he was a little all over the place. I could never really follow his thought process, but I chalked some of that up to the whimsical nature of the world and story. One thing that really bugged me was how Oliver was intentionally withholding information from Alice throughout the story. He would explaining things to her a little at a time. Oliver claimed he didn’t have time to explain everything. However, it read to me as a plot device meant to keep Alice and us (the reader) in the dark about the world. While I understood the need of the plot device, I found it frustrating and annoying.
The Writing and Plot
If you’ve read Shatter Me, you know that Tahereh Mafi likes her metaphors and has a flowery writing style. Let’s be real – her writing style can be a little over the top for me. However, because the world in this book is also over the top the writing style actually worked! It took me about half way through the book before I was completely invested in the story. I think it was partly getting used to the writing style and partly just getting my bearings in such a bizarre and strange world. After I hit the half way mark though, I was hooked and couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Although I enjoyed the ride, the ending seemed a little rushed to me. I was surprised how quickly it wrapped up.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I thought the world was so creative and unique (very Alice in Wonderland-esque) and Alice was a protagonist I could really get behind! The writing style and the plot took a little getting used to, but by the end I was completely invested. I did have some minor issues with the book, but in the end these things didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story. I recommend this book to people who enjoy middle grade adventure fantasy, especially those who enjoy whimsical writing.