Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Genre: Middle-Grade, Fantasy
Length: 416 pages
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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.
Ferenwood is a world filled with color and magic and it's inhabitants are just as bright, but a young girl named Alice, who was born with no color at all, stands out with her milk-white skin and hair. When she fails to procure a task at her Surrender, she joins a boy named Oliver on his quest to Furthermore, where her secrets are revealed, her magic comes to light, and her story comes together.
The #1 word I can think of to describe this book is UNIQUE. It's very imaginative and colorful. Everything about this book was so very different than anything else I've ever read and at the same time it does remind me a little of Alice in Wonderland, and not just because the main character's name is also Alice. The whole 'falling' into Furthermore thing kind of solidified that comparison for me. There seemed to be quite a bit of nonsense as well.
I'll admit that for the majority of this book I was nothing but confused. I was so confused that it was starting to give me a headache. In fact, the one sentence that stood out to me the most from this book was something like, "I've never been more confused in my life!"
I think the writing style also had something to do with my confusion. There were things like "a single pair of days" that made me squint and just wonder why. At the same time, some of the oddness in the writing really brought the story to life. At times it was almost poetic and I ended up enjoying it.
There were a few inconsistencies that bothered me a little bit. The biggest was the issue with Alice's clothes. In the beginning we are told that she hates clothes and would rather run around in her 'underthings' but a few chapters later we are told that Alice loves clothes, especially if they are layered, heavy, and adorned with copious amounts of embroidery or trinkets such as sequins or hammered copper circles. The garish clothes really added to the story but the back-and-forth confused me a little.
I also wasn't thrilled about the repetitive way the mother was put down towards the beginning of the story. I definitely understand that we don't all have perfect mothers but the author spent more time describing that Alice doesn't like her mother than showing or telling us why. It does seem to come to light at the end of the book but it was a little bit bothersome at first.
Otherwise, I really enjoyed Alice as a character, even though at times I felt like she was a little too stubborn and impulsive. I think I liked the visual and magical aspects of her character more than anything. She is brave, loyal, and a number of other good things though so I can't dislike her.
The worldbuilding of Ferenwood was decent and kept my attention but Furthermore seemed like a big melting pot of ideas that weren't solidified or described properly enough for me to get a good mental picture of them. Like I said previously, it was just really confusing.
The ending seemed very rushed. One minute we were in the thick of things and the next it was all sorted out and everyone was back where they started. That was a little frustrating because it took so long to even get used to what was happening and then it was over.
I'm struggling a bit with how to rate this because I did have some problems with it but it was also one of those books that is so different that I don't think I will forget it anytime soon.
My Rating: 3.75