Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on August 30th 2016
A captivating and colorful adventure that reads like a modern day fairy tale, from the bestselling author of the Shatter Me series.
Inspired by her childhood love of books like The Secret Garden and The Chronicles of Narnia, bestselling author Tahereh Mafi crafts a spellbinding new world where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places.
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. 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 was a bit hesitant going into Furthermore, because middle grade tends to be a bit hit or miss for me. I often feel like middle grade books are frequently too… smart for me. Like, a lot of the allegories and symbolism tend to go way over my head because I’m so caught up in the adventure element of the story. Or, conversely, other middle grade can sometimes feel lacking in substance. However, I fell head-over-heels for Tahereh Mafi’s gorgeous writing after reading her Shatter Me trilogy years ago, so I knew I had to give Furthermore a chance.
Furthermore follows our main character, Alice Alexis Queensmeadow (what an amazing name, right?!), who is turning twelve years old. Alice and her old school bully, Oliver, go on an adventure to the magical land of Furthermore to find Alice’s father, who disappeared some number of years ago. Mafi’s writing really lent itself to this genre! The worlds of Ferenwood and Furthermore were so well-developed, and simply delightful. I loved the stark contrast between these two worlds. I got serious Alice in Wonderland vibes from this story– young girl gets transported into a mysterious, dangerous, strange other world and has to navigate that world, with the help of some friends. The scenery was very vividly described, which made it easy to picture. I do think the magic system could have been more fleshed-out, but, like the story itself, it’s quite whimsical and seemingly nonsensical at times.
As far as characters go, I adored Alice. She is full of sass, sarcasm, and wit. I think she’s an important, feminist character for young girls to read about! Both Alice and Oliver underwent some beautiful character development over the course of the novel. The parental figures are very much your typical fairytale parents. (In general, this book reads just like a fairytale.) Oh, and I loved the narrator! There are times when the narrator speaks directly to the reader, and I loved that element of the narration. Tahereh’s writing isn’t as gorgeous and flowery as it was in the Shatter Me books, but lovers of her writing will love her beautiful use of figurative language in Furthermore.
Now, onto the main, glaring qualm I had with this book: the ending. In general, though there were parts of the story I enjoyed more than others (origami foxes!!!), the pacing was decent. However, the ending felt incredibly rushed. One of my bookish pet peeves is abrupt endings, and Furthermore had one of the worst ones I’ve read recently. The circumstances surrounding the ending seemed way, way too convenient. Everything wrapped up in a fairytale-perfect bow, and I do think the powerful message of this story suffered a bit for that.
Overall, I would recommend Furthermore to anyone who enjoys middle-grade adventure, as well as fans of fairytales or Alice in Wonderland. Fans of Tahereh Mafi’s writing will not be disappointed. I think everyone will appreciate the message that the things that make you different are things to be celebrated; no matter who you are or what you look like, you are still valuable and loved.
Have you read Furthermore? If so, what are your thoughts?