At time of writing, I have been finished reading the book for five minutes and I want to jot down my impressions while they’re still fresh, then write more once they’ve digested a bit. Suffice it to say, the image sums up my feelings for this book. It is rare, though not unheard of for a book to make me cry. This one did. Manly tears.
I have become an instant fan of Tom McNeal and I hope his other books are this good.
This is the kind of book that made me want to be a writer–the characters feel like you could talk to them, their world seems so close to ours you could almost drive there and visit.
Far Far Away is proof that many books are subject to the ‘gestalt’ principle–that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. While each of the set pieces are familiar and far from original, McNeal creates a grand, engaging story through the power of great writing.
And literally NOTHING in this story is original–hardly a crime, as I mentioned in my initial post NOTHING is original anymore–but I think the familiar is a theme in this book. Like fairy-tales and explorations of death.
Okay, it’s been about a week and the emotions have died down. So do I still love this book?
Absolutely. It’s touching, fun, and unlike most YA these days, timeless. It also deals with some relevant issues kids of today deal with and subtly shows how fairy-tales are largely still relevant in teaching kids to be cautious. But I think the main reason it’s so engaging is the characters. This is a very character driven story.
One thing that’s important to note is that the plot shifts close to halfway through into a very different kind of story. It is slightly jarring, but as a result, the book goes from pleasant and readable to un-put-down-able. I read the last half of the book in about 24 hours.
And, without spoiling anything, I honestly think the abruptness works because that’s how it is in real life–you never see this kind of thing coming until it’s too late.
Wishlist: I wish some of the other characters, specifically McRaven, were better developed.
I wish some of the fairy tales referenced had been out and out told in the narrative.
Mostly I wish I could spend more time hanging out with the narrator.
So this one is definitely worth checking out. It even won some awards or something as well. When I have some time, I’m going to take a look at some of Tom McNeal’s other books as well.
If you’ve read Far Far Away, leave a comment and let me know what you thought!