Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: Far Far Away by Tom McNeal



Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 384
Received: ARC from publisher, via NetGalley
Stars: 2
Goodreads Page

This book made me irritated. Like a skin irritation. Like a rash. Like something I just want to scrub off my skin. I'm actually annoyed with myself that I didn't DNF (it was that darn engaging narrator, more on him later).

Here's a list of things I didn't like:

  • The main character. He's SO weak. He comes across like a dull, dim child. So much so that I have a hard time even guessing at his age. He also doesn't ever actually DO anything except get pushed around and influenced by the other characters. Jeremy makes Bella Swan (even New Moon pining for Edward Bella Swan) seem like a vibrant, dynamic, go-getter in comparison. He doesn't grow AT ALL throughout the book. He just shifts from following one person to following a different person.
  • Ginger, the stereotypical "feisty girl" who is supposed to be the sparkling character who pulls Jeremy out of his shell and breathes life into his dormant existence. I just wanted her to shut up and leave the book. She isn't nearly as enchanting or original as I think she's supposed to be. I would have loved for someone to have stuck a giant wad of bubble gum in her hair.
  • The wandering plot. So much pointless stuff happens. Each time a new plot development would be introduced I'd hope that finally the plot would actually move somewhere. But no. I got the feeling all those little vignettes were supposed to be somehow poignant but I couldn't help but think, "Why am I wasting my time reading about this??"
  • The "It's just like a Grimm fairy tale!" tie ins. I don't think the obvious stick could have hit any harder. Sometimes it was effective and I did like it, but overall I wasn't loving the DID YOU GET THAT CLEVER ALLUSION, DIMWIT??? vibe when, duh, how could you not get it?
  • The LITERATURE vibe. I hate it when my books spend more time telling me they're high brow than in telling me a story.
  • The genre mash. Is this a contemporary romance? A mystery? A fairy tale? A true-crime thriller? A middle grade book? A YA book? An adult book? Fantasy? Realistic? Set in the present day? Set in the past? I never felt grounded and the mix of different elements didn't sit right with me. It felt convoluted and contrived. 
  • The obvious EVERYTHING. I was wrong about only one tiny thing, and I liked what I thought was happening better than what was actually happening. SPOILER! I was hoping the victims were used to make the prince cakes.

Things I did like:

  • LOVED Jacob Grimm, the ghost narrator. He spoke so beautifully, totally sucking me into the story despite the fact that I didn't actually care about the characters or events. His feelings for Jeremy were incredibly touching and actually made me shed a tear for Jeremy. Jacob serves as a ghostly guardian/best friend/father figure for Jeremy and he is fiercely protective. I loved the glimpses into Jacob's life, his journey through the afterlife, and his quest to find peace. HE did grow and change, though I loved him every step of the way.
  • The food descriptions. My gosh they were downright enthralling. Mouthwatering. Fantastic. It wouldn't matter if that food was poisoned, people, or intended to fatten me up for a witch's dinner, I'd eat it.

Bottom line: Despite a few things I absolutely LOVED, I'm so turned off that I'd be hard pressed to pick up another book by this author.


16 comments:

  1. Well now I'm kind of hungry just thinking about delicious food! Sorry this didn't work for you and I hope your next read is better :)

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    Replies
    1. the food descriptions were amazing. It was like looking through one of those cook books that have really awesome photos of the food.

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  2. Great review. You definitely do a good job of steering me away from it even though there were parts you loved. Jacob Grimm does sound fascinating but can't make up for the bad parts it seems.

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    1. Jacob Grimm was fantastic, but yeah, overall he couldn't combat the rest for me. I've seen a lot of fantastic reviews for this one though, so maybe you'd like it more? Not sure it's your kind of thing though.

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  3. Oh no...so sorry this one didn't work...I've been contemplating picking it up myself...but if the only think it has going for it is a wonderful narrator I may pass!

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    1. And the food descriptions :P Those were good too.

      You might like it more than I did though. I think I'm in the minority.

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  4. :( Too bad the balance was so much in the things you didn't like

    That's sad.

    Hope your next read is more awesome.

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    1. yeah, I wish the rest had been as good as the good parts. :(

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  5. *Gags on "The LITERATURE vibe."* I hate that vibe. It's so patronizing! And I hate it when an author does so many things wrong--it makes me want to kick them for the things they do that I love.

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    1. I hate it too! But I love that you know what I mean when I said that :)

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  6. I can't stand books like this. I read one kind of like it - at least where I hated the main characters but kept going because some of the secondary characters were cool and I wanted to see what happened to them.)

    It is quite cruel though, to finish a book like this and go, "Why? Just why?"

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    Replies
    1. yes, exactly! I hate turning the final page and having that Why? feeling! It's awful.

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  7. "Jeremy makes Bella Swan (even New Moon pining for Edward Bella Swan) seem like a vibrant, dynamic, go-getter in comparison." <-- Holy shit. 1) That's a perfect line to describe your feelings. 2) With that alone I'd know that this book wouldn't be for me.

    "Ginger, the stereotypical "feisty girl" who is supposed to be the sparkling character who pulls Jeremy out of his shell and breathes life into his dormant existence." <-- she sort of sounds like an underdeveloped manicpixiedream girl. At least, though, they can be somewhat fun to read about; seems like she wasn't even that.

    "But no. I got the feeling all those little vignettes were supposed to be somehow poignant but I couldn't help but think, "Why am I wasting my time reading about this??"" <-- I have trouble with books that have a lot of vignettes like that because they're almost ALWAYS like that for me. Always Literary > Commercial vibe and that's the worst.

    "DID YOU GET THAT CLEVER ALLUSION, DIMWIT??? vibe when, duh, how could you not get it?" <-- And there's no transparency in the themes either? It's the worst when the writing is hitting you over the head with the themes.

    "I never felt grounded and the mix of different elements didn't sit right with me." <-- I'm a fan of genre mash-ups, but this mix reminds me of my first thoughts on Shatter Me's attempt to mix various elements.

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  8. Hmmm. Its funny, so many time I almost pushed the "request" button on this one. I'm so glad I didn't. I'm sorry you didn't like it. I think the narrator sounds interesting, though.

    ReplyDelete

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