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{June 9, 2013}   {ARC Review} Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

16030663From 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…
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While I liked this novel overall, I will admit that there is what I consider much downtime; it’s very slow paced and it takes a while for the plot to thicken, and even then, it seems to slow itself down repeatedly as the narrator, Jacob Grimm, tends to focus on things that I didn’t find all that important, or funny.  What I really wanted was a fast-paced ghost haunting that focuses on the grim (no pun intended), but this is more or less a MG story that spends a lot of time explaining prior events and not really showing the reader, but telling in a way that a younger audience might find humorous.  Jacob Grimm, to me, sounded like the vocal narrator in the children’s movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from 2005.  That narrators’ voice reverberated in my mind as I read this novel because the narration style is very similar. The statements made in both are meant to be funny, but don’t necessarily appeal to, or connect with, the older crowd, like me.  Or, at least, that’s my personal opinion. But, either way, if you’re familiar with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, then you have a fairly decent idea of how the narration within this novel flows. 

Narration aside, I enjoyed the overall plot elements and characters: a recluse father, a son who hears the voice of a ghost, a girl who loves mischief, a jovial baker, and a town that never forgives.  What I would have liked, though, is a bit more action.  When things finally do take a turn for the worse for Jeremy Johnson Johnson and the perpetrator is found out, there is a very quick succession of events that will have readers on pins and needles in fear and anticipation, but then there is another lull in activity, which is a bit disheartening.  I can’t explain the lull any further without giving away the plot, so I will stop here.

Honestly, I think this is a great novel for MG readers, perhaps fourth through seventh grade.  The writing is easy to read and understand, and I think younger readers will find it quite humorous, unlike my old self.  And, for those who enjoy the narration, I believe the novel itself will be the perfect pace because action isn’t everything, and sometimes humor makes the story.  Three stars.    

3 stars

Random House Children’s Books has been extremely gravious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on June 11, 2013.
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