By Tahereh Mafi
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I know that everyone loves this story so please don’t hate, but it just didn’t do it for me. After I finished this book I sat in my room wondering what I had just read and how exactly it was that I felt about it. Do not get me wrong, the book was well written, I just don’t really know what to make of it.
Angelica read this book before me, as she does most books, and finished with the same feeling of confusion and dissatisfaction. It was not until I looked at her review, which can be found HERE that I really figured out what was wrong. In that review she mentions that there was simply too much Furthermore, so much that it overwhelmed the plot, drowning everything in magical, oversaturated, whimsical descriptions, and nothing else.
I love Shatter Me, it is one of my favorite series in the history of ever, and because of it I have learned to love Mafi’s form of writing. The woman has such a talent with words, she can weave sentences together with such ease and precision and manage to create magic and poetry. I love reading the things she writes but here it just seemed like she was trying too hard. There too much whimsy, too much magic, too much, I cannot believe I am going to say this, but, too much imagination. It was too fantastical and lacked real substance.
Although the author has stated that this is not an Alice in Wonderland retelling, this goes in basically the same direction. It is about a colorless girl in a colorful world who gets taken on a grand adventure by a boy named Oliver to the magical land of Furthermore to find her missing father. Ok, so maybe that wasn’t very Alice in Wonderland, but trust me, Furthermore is basically Wonderland on crack. And it is extremely overwhelming.
So much time is spent describing the unintelligible world of Furthermore that the story begins to drag and the plot begins to stagnate. I was dumped with so much information that after a while I began to skim the long descriptive paragraphs.
Aside from that, I was not much a fan of the characters. If I am honest, I didn’t care about them at all, and that is one of the biggest problems a book can have. They weren’t relatable, and yes, I know that I am a 21-year-old woman reading a novel made for 12-year-olds, about 12-year-olds, but that is not the reason they were not relatable. I have read many children and middle grade fiction that have completely torn my heart out with their cast of characters. Percy Jackson is one of my favorite characters ever, and he starts out at the age of 12! Alice and Oliver just weren’t doing it for me. They did not pull at my heartstrings, they did not make me care in the slightest of their well being.
The characters were generic and worst of all they were overly simplistic. While yes, it does seem quite deep at times, and each has personal problems, and complex emotions and lives and whatnot, the book does not let us get very attached to them. Whenever Alice shows any type of emotion the narrator goes on to explain it in great detail, not giving us, the reader, an opportunity to let it sink in and feel something for her. Children are not stupid, they are intelligent and capable of understanding complex emotions, the over simplification of how Alice feels and why she feels it were not necessary. It greatly diluted her feelings, making her emotions seem almost shallow and unimportant, just another aspect of the story to be described with flourish.
The final thing that I disliked about this novel was the ending. The book is 400 pages long and for most of it Alice and Oliver are wandering around Furthermore looking for her father. First, I hate that the book was that long when it did not need to be, second, I hate how rushed everything was at the end. We spend 400 pages building to one moment, only to have all the world’s problems solved within the last 5 pages of the book. It seemed to me as if Mafi was not sure how to end it and was running out of forced whimsy to throw upon us and so she added this ending in to close it off with a big, dramatic, happy bow.
I am sorry if this review seemed a little rant like but I just had a lot to say. This book was not for me in any way, that said, I know a lot of people who greatly enjoyed it so it may very well be for you. This also does not discourage me from continuing to read more of Tahereh’s work, should there be any more. If this is a book that you think you might like, by all means, read it. Angelica’s review is much more positive than mine, she gave it a 3.5/5, so maybe you should also read that if you want a second opinion.
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