Saturday, February 11, 2017

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

"Alice plucked a tulip from her pocket and bit off the top. She felt the petals pressing against her tongue; she could taste the velvet, the magenta of it all. She closed her eyes and licked her lips before biting in the stem. Not quite green but brighter, more vibrant; there was a song in that colour and she could feel it singing inside of her."

As the cover suggests this is a fantasy book and I think it is one fans of this genre will enjoy but you do need reading stamina.  If you loved the imaginative journey in The Phantom Tollbooth then this is also the book for you. On the down side this is a very long book (400 pages) and I did take more than a week to read it.  There are moments of delightful storytelling but I did want the action to move along a little more quickly.  When Oliver declares "We are currently at the entry of Slumber, which is just one of the sixty-eight villages we must travel through, and each village has its own very specific rules. We cannot break a single one if we are to find your father." My heart sank.  Sixty-eight villages.  I was not sure I had the fortitude to withstand the vagaries of so many different places and their different and hazardous rules.

The sentences I quoted at the beginning of this review come from very early in this story.  I missed the first page accidentally but when I read about Alice eating flowers I knew this was going to be a very different book. I went back and read that Alice herself has no colour.

"But then one day they realised that their baby, the one they'd named Alice, had no pigment at all. Her hair and skin were white as milk; her heart and soul were soft as silk. ... Ferenwood had been built on colour. Bursts of it, swaths of it, depths and breadths of it."

Alice thinks her father has left the family because of her disgrace.  Her mother has become unkind and so when Oliver Newbanks tells her he knows the location of her father and that she needs to come to his rescue her adventures truly begin.  Alice does not go to all sixty-eight villages but the ones she does visit are extremely odd such as Paper where her arm is bitten off by an origami fox.

I did enjoy watching Alice grow and gain self-acceptance as this book progressed but I wanted to know a little more about Oliver - his back story and motivation. Of course the ending is a happy one as you might predict and it was perhaps a little rushed but after all the turmoil of their journey across Furthermore it was good to reach the comfort of home.

After reading Furthermore you might like to read Wolf Wilder, Firegirl and for mature readers The Thickety.

You can listen to a five minute audio sample here.

Told in rich, luscious, clever prose by an omniscient narrator whose chatty asides warn and inform, Alice’s remarkable adventure transports her across bizarre landscapes where she eventually realizes how wonderful it is to be herself and to have a friend she can trust.

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