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Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

Far Far Away

by Tom McNeal

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2793740,505 (3.98)13

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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Tom McNeal’s novel is a Grimm fairytale in the truest sense of the word. No Disney story, but a quirky tale of good vs. evil in a small town setting with a very unusual narrator. The narrator in fact is the ghost of Jacob Grimm himself, unable to move on. Drifting around the world at loose ends, he finds himself in the present-day United States acting as tutor and guardian to Jeremy, a teenage boy faced with a mysterious threat. This ominous danger is not Jeremy’s only problem: he and his depressed father face eviction from their bookstore and Ginger, a popular girl from school, has finally started to notice him, dragging him on her adventures. Situations arise in which not even a ghost will be much help, despite his encyclopedic knowledge of fairytales and several languages.

My impressions of this novel will be vague, as I feel that it’s something that is best read with as few spoilers as possible. The writing is excellent: whimsical and wry in places, Jacob Grimm makes for a refreshingly different perspective, despite his frequent nagging of Jeremy. As for Jeremy himself, he’s a fairly straightforward character in that his main traits are being hardworking, honest, and kind, the traits one would associate with the hero of a Grimm tale. Ginger’s beautiful, but she’s also intelligent, has a sense of humor, and fondness for pranks. They are both likable enough, although Ginger’s lack of thought to consequences is frustrating in the beginning.

The story itself starts out like a straight contemporary novel (aside from the ghost narrator, of course) with issues such as bullying, Jeremy’s father’s depression, and the town’s rejection of anyone viewed as “different” all touched upon. In fact, it’s hard to see in what direction the narrative is going for much of the novel, something I appreciated as a novelty. In fact I only definitely clued in to what was really going on after a blatant allusion to a particular Grimm story was made. There’s a tonal shift in the second half of the novel that gives a feeling of unevenness, although the events were building all along.

That uneven tone, characters that were surprisingly passive, and some side characters that had a lot of page time for little reason all contributed to my not loving this novel, in spite of the many good qualities it has. It’s clearly written in the Grimm tradition: it contains violence and darkness, good vs. evil, and romance, with punishments and rewards distributed depending on where you fall on the good/evil spectrum. It’s maybe the use of these tropes that best explains my ambiguous feelings towards the book. The characters don’t feel like people, they lack depth. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting story, worth trying for anyone looking for something different from in their YA novels. ( )
  WorldforReading | Jul 10, 2014 |
For a book in which fairy tales figure very prominently, this book took a very frightful turn, sort of like fairy tales themselves. For teachers or writers interested in the topic, this one may be worth reading if you or your students are studying the conventions of folk tales, archetypes and symbols, and literary techniques of foreshadowing and building tension. It is full of artfully employed examples of all of them. For upper middle grade and older. ( )
  lps3 | Jun 20, 2014 |
Not an easy book to follow. I am unsure how students will react . I loved the Narrator, Jacob Grimm and the interwoven fairy tales. Some of the rest of the book made me uncomfortable. Maybe too much realism mixed into the fantasy. A book to think about. ( )
  librarian1204 | Jun 7, 2014 |
With an unusual narrator with a language and style all his own, Far Far Away accurately captures that voice with perfect precision. The book is meticulously researched as well, since the narrator is a historical figure. And while not immediately evident, the book's retelling of Grimm fairy tales becomes staggeringly obvious and horribly frightening during the book's final third. Spectacularly written, it demonstrates broad YA appeal - and, let's be honest, many adult readers and fans of the author's novels for adults are bound to enjoy this book.

Personally, I was blown away by this novel. It reads a like a fairy tale - which is intentional, of course - and the plot and characters are all a bit unreal and dreamlike. The plot moves slowly at first, ratcheting up the pace and becoming completely engrossing during the final third. Reviews from readers indicate an "either love it or hate it" attitude, and I fall firmly on the "love it" side of this equation. Many note that the characters feel "flat" or "not lifelike", which I believe to be intentional, as this is a retelling of a fairy tale and is evocative of traditional fairy tales in every sense. ( )
  StellaJay | May 29, 2014 |

This is the story of a boy, a girl, and a ghost. In the land of Never Better, Jeremy Johnson Johnson is a smart, sensitive 15 year old who hears voices, particularly the voice of Jacob Grimm- one half of the famed fairy-tale Brothers Grimm. Grimm tries to protect Jacob and his good friend, Ginger, from harm, but it seems that no matter what he does, danger is headed their way. Jeremy, Ginger, and Grimm must solve the mystery of their town to save themselves as well as those they love.
  KilmerMSLibrary | May 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Far Far Away captures the wit of "Doctor Who," the magical appeal of Narnia and Hogwarts, the no-nonsense approach to writing about nonsensical things previously mastered by Jasper Fforde, the enchantment of timeless fairy tales, and the harsh realities of the real world … all in one pretty, delightful, 384-page package.

Have I mentioned that I adored this book?
added by zhejw | editThe Examiner, Sara Gundell (Dec 13, 2013)
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For Sam and Hank
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What follows is the strange and fateful tale of a boy, a girl, and a ghost.
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Book description
When Jeremy Johnson Johnson's strange ability to speak to the ghost of Jacob Grimm draws the interest of his classmate, Ginger Boltinghouse, the two find themselves at the center of a series of disappearances in their hometown.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375849726, Hardcover)

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. . . 

   Young adult veteran Tom McNeal (one half of the writing duo known as Laura & Tom McNeal) has crafted a novel at once warmhearted, compulsively readable, and altogether thrilling--and McNeal fans of their tautly told stories will not be disappointed.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:31 -0400)

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"When Jeremy Johnson Johnson's strange ability to speak to the ghost of Jacob Grimm draws the interest of his classmate, Ginger Boltinghouse, the two find themselves at the center of a series of disappearances in their hometown"--

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