Blog Tour + Book Review: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Furthermore
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy

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 made a point to read and review more middle grade books this year, since books for this age group has not particularly been on my radar for a while. But it looks like I chose the right time to do so because this must be the year of the amazing middle grade books: full of adventure, magic, morality and diversity themes, and absolute whimsy. Merriam-Webster defines "whimsy" as "a playful or amusing quality: a sense of humor or playfulness" and that encapsulates Furthermore perfectly.

Alice Alexis Queensmeadow (love this name!) has lots to be sad over yet we are introduced to a character who is hopeful and looks at the world in the glass-half-full type of way. I fell in love with her almost immediately. She is sensitive to the world around her, more so than the others who live in Ferenwood -- which is a place full of magic and as colorful as one could imagine -- because she was born different. She was born devoid of any color except for her eyes. This makes her stand out and the reader gets a sense that she does not get along with her Mother because in a place where color is everything, her Mother may resent her for just this reason. But this is definitely something I liked about the author's writing because as the story unfolds, we realize that nothing is as it seems.

So Alice is on a mission. She is about to turn twelve-years-old which will allow her to go to the Surrender. It is an annual event where every child who turns twelve is allowed to display a talent, generally involving magic. Based on the strength of that talent, the child is given a task. And the task is Alice's ticket out of there. In her heart, she just knows that she is going to be able to get away from the loll drums of daily living Ferenwood offers and finally have the opportunity to go rescue her Father, who's been missing for the past three years.

In the interim, she meets Oliver Newbanks. In fact, they've met each other before and Alice recalls that he made her life miserable in school after calling her the ugliest girl who ever lived. So this sets the stage for their animosity. It also sets the stage for their impending growth as people and as friends and I adored their friendship, especially since it was full-on hate from the beginning. Oliver needs Alice. And he needs her for reasons she is not willing to share. Her unwillingness to show the world her real and true magical talent is exactly the catalyst that throws Alice's and Oliver's adventure into action.

As a side note, the scene where Alice shows off her talent to the town during the Surrender is absolutely heart-breaking. There's something so innocent, so hopeless, so devoid of anything malicious that made me pine for Alice to have a better life. But Alice is altogether strong and powerful because she doesn't let anything hold her back. The author has a gorgeous way with language and this was one quote that defines Alice beautifully:

One thing I also enjoyed was the omniscient narrator that pops up throughout the story with little asides, antidotes, and introspective wisdom. It reminded me of The Neverending Story. As if the reader is sitting on grandpa's lap and the story can be experienced not only alone and through our own eyes, but we can also question someone older and wiser when pondering certain bits of the story. I appreciated this technique and I think children will also. 

Oliver and Alice set off to find Father in Furthermore. When they are ready to step through the door to this other world, Oliver says something to Alice that I found quite interesting. "You must step inside a world to see it honestly. A passing glance won't do." Again, the author's use of language never failed to impress me. These tidbits that are so true to the world of Furthermore and so true to our daily life. Another quote that stood out was the following,

Furthermore was such an imaginative world. Almost too much for a grown-up to handle because all the confines of Ferenwood don't exist here. It's a little bit like our world versus stepping into any other world that doesn't subscribe to our same limitations and rules. At first, Alice has a hard time adjusting to these differences. But she begins to adapt. And her eyes are opened. And dare I say it but this part of the narrative also reminded me a little bit of The Matrix. When Neo first gets "unplugged" from the only world he's ever known and has extreme difficulties adjusting his mind to what is real and what isn't.

But as luck would have it, Alice and Oliver learn about themselves and each other other while meeting eccentric and quirky characters along the way. Not only do they become different people through their experiences, but they also learn the importance of friendship and the strength that comes with truly opening ourselves up to other people.

But the strongest victory comes in knowing how much Alice's worldview changes. "Alice knew that being different would always be difficult; she knew that there was no magic that would erase narrow-mindedness or iron out the inequities in life. But Alice was also beginning to learn that life was never lived in absolutes."

I cannot wait for the next book!

Tahereh Mafi is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Shatter Me series. She was born in a small city somewhere in Connecticut and currently resides in Santa Monica, California with her husband, fellow author Ransom Riggs. She can usually be found over-caffeinated and stuck in a book. Shatter Me is her first series, with television rights optioned by ABC Signature Studios. She is currently on tour with her husband where she is promoting Furthermore (of course) and he is promoting his Tales of the Peculiar and the upcoming movie adaptation of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

9/9: US! The best is always last, don't you agree?


  1. This book was all sorts of adorable and incredibly whimsical!! I agree that Mafi's writing is gorgeous too!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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