I am so excited today to join the official Furthermore Blog Tour and talk about the latest novel and first middle grade novel by Tahereh Mafi, whose Shatter Me YA trilogy I absolutely loved. Tahereh’s middle grade debut is everything I hoped it would be and more! Check out my review plus the other lovely blogs on the tour below!
Note: This review is part of the 2016 Summer Reading Diversity Spotlight.
Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
Narrated by: Bronson Pinchot
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers / Listening Library
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Running Time: 8 hours and 12 minutes
Source: Received ARC at SDCC / Received Audiobook From Publisher
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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.
To say that I was anticipating the release of Furthermore, Tahereh Mafi’s middle grade debut, is an understatement. After reading, I can tell you that if you love Mafi’s writing as much as I do, you’re in for quite a treat.
In Furthermore, we follow Alice and Oliver, two unlikely companions as they set out to search in Furthermore for Alice’s father whose been gone from home in Ferenwood for the past three years. There’s so much to say about this story but I really love how the synopsis says so much and so little at the same time – it still feels like you go into this story blind because there’s still so much to discover. And I don’t want to spoil a single thing for you so I won’t say much about the actual journey itself other than that it was a really thrilling ride.
This is not just a story about finding Alice’s father but also finding a way to make our deepest wishes come true. It’s about finding a way, or many ways to remain resilient, to try and try again, to never give up. This is a story about embracing your gifts and all of your strengths, even if that means everyone but you gets to benefit from them. This is a story about self-love and selflessness. About living a life full of color, what can happen when you don’t, what can happen when you have all of the colors in the world at your fingertips but are unwilling to color outside of the lines. This story is about boundless desires and all of the endless ways Alice and Oliver go about seeing those desires fulfilled. Furthermore lives up to its name and is limitless with the hope and love and perseverance it exudes on every page. It’s pretty magnificent.
First, the world. Oh! What a world! Truly stunning. Filled with and thriving because of color and magic. With such vivid descriptions, oh what imagery that is literally out of this world. What an absolute delight it was to be thrust into this world. I absolutely loved the tone of this book and all that it encompassed.
I love the mythology behind Ferenwood and the effervescent Furthermore, especially Furthermore. I especially found the village of Print, a two-dimension town that could not sustain her (Alice) to be quite fascinating. I loved, loved, loved the symbolism this book, this world, these towns, this magic holds but I don’t want to get too deep so just know that I noticed and appreciated oh so very much here!
As for the characters… just as three dimensional and heart tugging as I’d hoped. I loved the colorful, complex dynamics between Alice and her mother (tense and distant), Alice and her father (she’s most definitely a Daddy’s girl), Alice and Oliver (more on that below), and Alice and Tim (rather touching and timely).
When it comes to Alice and Oliver in particular…Alice often acts before she thinks and assumes the world revolves around her logic, a dangerous place of thought to be when you head into Furthermore. Oliver expects Alice to go along for the adventure without giving her any details. He doesn’t know how to or doesn’t want to surrender control because he’s so used to controlling situations and is afraid of what can happen when he doesn’t.
Alice and Oliver have high expectations for each other and through their journey and constantly challenging each other, they discover what it means to trust one another and themselves and be a true partner, be a true team. This story is as much about coming into one’s own strength and overcoming one’s own weaknesses as it is about embracing the strengths and weaknesses of others. Yes, at times, I did have to remind myself that this was a middle grade novel, given the actions of these characters, and even still had trouble accepting all of those actions as justifiable, but overall, this is quite wonderful.
As for the conclusion, I really enjoyed how everything came together towards the end. Though for me, the “Dear reader: I do hope you enjoy a happy ending” chapter was rushed. But otherwise, I was quite satisfied with the ending and think that you will be too.
I listened to the audiobook, which was narrated by Bronson Pinchot, who some older readers may know as Jean-Luc Rieupeyroux from the 90s sitcom, Step by Step. He’s also narrated works by Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and Edgar Allan Poe to name a few. I really enjoyed his narration but also knew that I had to read along to see Tahereh’s beautiful words on the page, to see and feel her rhythm too. It’s essential to see what Tahreh does on the page, she’s unconventional, always, and I love it. It was such a wonderful experience. I highly recommend it.
No matter how you check out Furthermore, you will enjoy it. Furthermore is a solid stand alone middle grade debut from Tahereh Mafi and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.
Furthermore Blog Tour: