Published by Dutton Children's (8.30.2016)
Genres: Middle Grade
Format: ARC, 416 pages
Source: From Publisher
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’m not really sure what I was expecting with this book, honestly. I was a bit worried about it being Middle Grade, since I’ve never read MG before and I was afraid it’d be too sophomoric for me. But true to Tahereh’s writing, it was quite beautiful! The only thing really MG about this book is the characters’ ages and disposition. It wasn’t as flowery as her usual prose, but it was still on a higher level of writing than you’d expect for such a young audience. (Which for me is a good thing!)
Her hair and skin were white as milk; her heart and soul were soft as silk.
I was super impressed with the magical world that Mafi created. It was so very vibrant and whimsical! The concept was very cool, too. Their use of magic, the Surrender, and the magical forms of payment were brilliant! I also liked that Alice lived in such a colorful world but she had no color. View Spoiler »Even more so that her ability is to change colors around her! Awesome! « Hide Spoiler There’s just something about the world that draws you in, makes you want to crawl into the pages and live there!
Color was life. Color was everything.
I was a bit overwhelmed by the world at first. It felt uncomfortably close to magical realism a few times in the beginning – i.e. Alice dropped her head, because sadness had left hinges in her bones (but it’s just Tahereh’s use of metaphors as per usual) and they actually eat flowers as if it were normal food. It was strange, but not in a bad way. Furthermore itself was even stranger, but it was so incredibly magical! (Paper foxes!!)
The only complaint I have about this book is that I didn’t connect very well with the characters. The world was really the selling point for me! Despite the beautiful writing, it is Middle Grade. The characters felt very middle grade-esque. I did like Alice a lot, though, because she was kind of prickly at times in a snarky way and it made me laugh because she reminded me a little of me. And I also love that she never gave up on her father. I just didn’t have much feeling while reading.
“Unfold your heart. Sharpen your ears. And never say no to the world when it asks you to dance.”
Love, it turned out, could both hurt and heal.
Writing style: 4.5/5
Overall rating: 4/5
Color board of my favorite things + Tahereh’s favorite things giveaway!
Middle grade is still my favorite genre to read as wella s to write, so this book is a must read. I have to know about the fabulous world-building and also want to see if I agree with you about the characters (I personally hope not :)
I don’t usually read middle grade mostly because the ages of the characters are kind of off putting for me. But I feel like Tahereh Mafi could rock a MG novel and your review seems I was right! Thank you for your review!