Wednesday, June 12, 2013

New Release: Far Far Away (recommended)


Goodreads Summary:

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, specificially, 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 warmhearted, compulsively readable, and altogether thrilling--and McNeal fans of their tautly told stories will not be disappointed.

Anyone who loves fairy tales and small town stories will adore Far Far Away. This book's primary strength lies in its characterization. The characters are quirky and genre-savvy, and I especially loved Ginger, who was hilarious and fun and the sort of friend everyone wishes they had. And although the story gets off to a slow start, you will reach a point where you can't put it down--I don't want to say too much, but Tom McNeal has a real gift for building suspense.

Yes, I know that last part sounds really vague. So let me explain... [The next part is meant more for people who've already read the book. There aren't any direct spoilers, but it might change your reading experience. So if you're like me, and prefer a completely unbiased first-reading experience, then you might want to come back to this after you've read the book.]

In many books, there is some sort of a twist or a big reveal or a secret identity exposed, and an attentive reader can pick up on that. Often, that sort of predictability is a bad thing. But here, if you know what's coming, you're suddenly aware of every single clue and double meaning in the dialogue, and you're even more on the edge of your seat than if you hadn't seen it coming in the first place. It's almost like an indirect sort of dramatic irony, and Tom McNeal excels at it.

One of the main criticisms I have of this book is the town. It has character, but part of me feels that there could have been more. Yes, I realize this is a very subjective criticism, but for whatever reason, that's how I felt.

***

Far Far Away comes out...um...yesterday. (My computer finally works, but I still have no internet access in my apartment.) I received my ARC through NetGalley. 


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