One of my resolutions was to post reviews more often and I think I’m succeeding in that resolution haha. I can’t promise I will post a review every day, but I will post something when I’ve read a book that was special to me in any kind of way. Yesterday I finished reading Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi and I’m completely in love with this book! It’s so, so good!!! First, let me give you a description and then I will try to convince you why you should buy and read this book.
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 think by now probably everybody knows I love retellings. So when I heard Tahereh Mafi had written an Alice in Wonderland retelling I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. And now that I’ve read it I’m never going to forget it anymore! Do you ever feel like cuddling a book because it just was that good and that inspiring? Well, I want to cuddle this book, stroke it and kiss it for good measure too. Why? I will tell you why!
Alice is one of those main characters who crawls under your skin and won’t budge once settled. She’s sweet, extremely lonely and sad, but at the same time incredibly resilient. Because of the color (or lack thereof) of her skin she has always been an outsider. People in Ferenwood believe she has no magic and in a world where magic and color are tremendously important someone who lacks both is just not that interesting. The only one who ever cared for Alice (or so she believes) is her father, but it’s been three years since she last saw him. Now, she has nobody. Her mother seems to hate her, she can’t go to school because she was expelled after she attacked her bully and now she doesn’t have any friends. Even her little brothers don’t really seem to care if she’s there or not. The only thing that keeps her from giving up is the promise of a better life once she has partaken in the Surrender. The Surrender is the day when all children who have turned twelve present their town with the magic they carry inside. Once they have surrendered their gift they will be given a task to complete that will determine which job and higher education they will get. However, Alice hates her real magical talent and refuses to acknowledge she possesses it. Instead, she focuses all her energy on her love to dance and her ability to hear the music of the world. But this is not a magical talent and when she presents this ability at the Surrender she receives a 0, a score Alice didn’t believe was possible. All her hopes and dreams are crushed. That’s where her old bully Oliver comes in.
Oliver is one of those characters that keep surprising you. He lies, he teases, he manipulates and he is arrogant. Yet, at the same time he can be really kind and sweet. He’s got layers and layers of personality, like an onion that has to be peeled to get to the mushy core. Oliver is thirteen and a year ago he received the task to rescue Alice’s father from the dangerous world of Furthermore, where magic runs rampant and visitors are tricked, tortured and eaten. Really a lovely place to be ;). Even though Oliver tried with all his might to rescue Alice’s father he needs help. Help from the girl he teased and who possesses a special kind of magic that would come in quite handy in Furthermore. When Oliver witnessess Alice’s failure at her Surrender he comforts her and persuades her to come with him. And that is where a grand adventure starts.
I absolutely loved the worldbuilding in this book. Allthough it’s full of silliness and humor, the storyworld works according to a set of rules established early on in the book. Never does the author digress from these established rules. So, even though the most fantastical things happen, everything makes sense within the set rules. There are towns where people aren’t allowed to sleep, there are towns that are two-dimensional, towns where speaking or moving is a capital offence and towns that love visitors especially because visitors can be eaten. But most importantly in Furthermore there is one commodity that is regulated very strictly. What commodity could be that important in a world where magic runs rampant? Well, Time of course, because people need time to make sound decisions and in Furthermore people don’t like thinking because than visitors would be able to circumvent traps and dangers. So, at the start of every journey through Furthermore people receive a ruler filled with time and inscribed with a Tibbin (a sort of emergency solution in times of extreme danger that can only be used once). Every visitor has to complete his journey within the time he or she has been given otherwise they are arrested for stealing time.
Another thing I loved was the friendship between Alice and Oliver. At the start they are enemies. Alice hates Oliver because he teased her in school and called her ugly because of her lack off color. Oliver doesn’t know how to deal with Alice, the only one who doesn’t seem to be affected by his powers of Persuasion and that’s the reason why he teases and torments her. Along the way they will discover that they are not that different at all. Their friendship develops realistically and they meet a lot of bumps and obstacles on the road to becoming friends because Oliver is so used to lying and manipulating and Alice has a hard time trusting people and showing what she feels.
The personal journey of discovery that Alice makes was also really beautiful. At the start of the book she longs to be like everybody else and hates that she is so different. But at the end she learns that the things that set her apart are the things that make her her. She learns that she can’t change the way people look at her, but she can change the way she reacts to that and how she looks at herself. In this book there are a lot of life lessons (about love, about friendship, about the way we perceive things) interwoven with all the magic and silliness, which makes for not only a really fun read but also a very satisfying and maybe for some even an eye-opening one.
Everybody who loves retellings, magical and wonderfilled stories, tales of friendship and love, and a story with great characters should pick this one up! You won’t be sorry, I promise you 🙂