When they say not to judge a book by its cover, it usually means “the cover may be bad, but the story great”. I judged Furthermore by its great cover and… the story was bad. Or how to feel cheated into reading a book.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase what is discussed. I will receive a small commission from the sale.Furthermore
Written by Tahereh Mafi
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Published on August 30th 2016
Genres: Children's books, Fairy tales, Fantasy
Buy on Amazon
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. 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 wanted to love Furthermore so badly, and at first I did. It has this whimsical feeling about it that reminds me of modern fairy tales like Alice in Wonderland or even the movie Penelope, which I love very much. I am a big fan of the genre, both in books and on the screen, and so I was looking up to reading Furthermore, especially with the fact that it was everywhere on Instagram when I decided to buy it… But my feelings toward this book changed really fast when I was reading it.
The main problem I have with this book comes from how infuriating both main characters are. Yes, they are children and yes, this will affect the way they act and think but… gosh did I want to yell at them most of the time for how annoying both of them are. I can’t find a single redeeming quality for Alice, who is a selfish, egotistical little girl who will blame everything on everyone else and never thinks that maybe she is the problem. I could totally understand why her mother isn’t fond of her, because I would not be either.
And Oliver isn’t any better. He keeps lying and hiding things from Alice, and then gets upset when she finds out the truth and doesn’t trust him. He’s also a cruel boy, bullying her like it’s nobody’s business. Neither of those two characters are appealing in any way, and I seriously did not want to spend time following their adventures because the narrative never made me care about them.
Another problem I found with the book is how present the narrator’s voice is through the story. It’s not a bad thing when it’s done really well (then again, in Penelope, Pushing Daisies or even Jane the Virgin), and it can add a wonderful feeling to a story. But in Furthermore, it was so predominant that it would pull me away from the narrative more often than not. I was focusing more on the idea of someone telling the story to children in a library than on the story itself. Not to mention that the narrator was very condescending to the reader at times?
It is sad, because Furthermore has really good things going on. The world-building is nice and creative, and some ideas were worth the read. The style is really good too, and the descriptions are so vivid they made me jealous of Mafi’s words. But I had to DNF the book halfway through it, because reading it became a chore.