Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review: Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

From Goodreads: It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn't even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he's able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it's been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn't been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, The Brothers Grimm. Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings .... 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: When I saw the synopsis for Tom McNeal’s Far Far Away, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of a character being able to hear the voice of Jacob Grimm. Imagine not just being haunted by any ghost, but the ghost of one half of the Brothers Grimm!

It turns out that Jacob Grimm isn’t just a secondary character in Far Far Away, but actually its narrator. So, although I liked learning about Jacob’s life, the fact that a ghost was narrating the story kind of made me feel emotionally detached from Jeremy and his friends.

It didn’t help that the characters had such ridiculous names (e.g. Jeremy Johnson Johnson, Conk Crinklaw etc.) and that the plot was sort of strange. I loved that reading Far Far Away almost feels like reading a fairy tale, but it took so incredibly long for it to become interesting. And even then, I was disappointed because the climax turned out to be very anticlimactic.

Ultimately, it’s hard for me to figure out who I would recommend Far Far Away to as I doubt most of the people I know will have the patience to get through it. The book also seems like it’s intended for MG readers, but the way it’s written feels more appropriate for a YA audience. 

Far Far Away was released by Knopf Books for Young Readers in June 2013. 

Comments About the Cover: I like that the cover has this mysterious and sinister feel to it. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Random House) for free via NetGalley.


  1. Oh no! This seemed so different and creative at first glance so it's a shame it turned out to be so.poorly executed. I don't know that I'd enjoy a ghost for a narrator since it prevents strong emotional attachments. I will definitely pass, but it's such a shame. Lovely review, though!

  2. hm, I didn't think of the ghost narrator being partially responsible for the detached feeling. That's a good point. (though he was one of the few things I liked about the book). I'm with you on the names, too. I don't like ridiculous names like that. I'm not sure who I'd recommend the book to either. It's written so young and the characters feel young, but I don't see this one succeeding with younger readers. It feels more like a book for adults, except, not. I don't know! Either way, lovely review :)

  3. Ugh, anticlimactic endings are the worst :( So frustrating when there's a bunch of build-up and then no pay-off! I'm not sure I'd have the patience for this one (and it sounds like it wouldn't really be worth it even if I did manage to get through the slow part). Thanks for giving me a better idea of what to expect with this one, though! :)

  4. Strange indeed. I have to admit I would be on the same page as you after reading the synopsis, it does sound awesome. But he's the narrator? Ugh. I can definitely see how that would kind of ruin the story almost.

  5. I agree with the names. It's hard for me to take characters with ridiculous names seriously. Also, I had the impression that this was MG and fairy tale-ish like you, Z. But I think it's interesting that the narrator is a ghost. Too bad it didn't go well though and that anticlimactic climax, ugh. I can feel the disappointment already! But hey you still rated it 3 stars so maybe it still has some redeeming qualities? ;)

  6. I actually haven't paid this one much attention before, but I do like the premise for it. I don't think I'd have the patience for it though, especially as I'm quite short on that these days. ;) Also, Conk Crinklaw? That's definitely one I haven't heard before! It's a shame that you were quite emotionally detached from this, but thanks for the helpful review. I hope your next read is better! :)

  7. I hadn't heard of this one until now! Based on your review, I feel like it's attempting to be something whimsical with the crazy names and fairy tale vibe, but other aspects prevent it from actually succeeding. When you mentioned how having the ghost narrate the story made you feel detached from the actual characters--that's exactly how I felt when reading The Book Thief with Death as the narrator (though I eventually came over it). It's too bad you didn't like this one more, Zahida. :( But thanks for the honest review!


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