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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

National Book Award Finalist A dark, contemporary fairy tale in the tradition of Neil Gaiman. Jeremy Johnson Johnson hears voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of 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 Jacob can't protect Jeremy from everything. When coltish, copper-haired Ginger Boultinghouse takes a bite of a cake so delicious it’s rumored to be bewitched, she falls in love with the first person she sees: Jeremy. In any other place, this would be a turn for the better for Jeremy, but not in Never Better, where the Finder of Occasions—whose identity and evil intentions nobody knows—is watching and waiting, waiting and watching. . . And as anyone familiar with the Brothers Grimm know, not all fairy tales have happy endings. Veteran writer Tom McNeal has crafted a young adult novel at once grim(m) and hopeful,…

Far Far Away

by Tom McNeal

Overall Book Review:

Jeremy Johnson Johnson lives a quiet, simple life of schoolwork and seclusion in a bookstore that he and his father own. Having been dubbed as “weird” by other children in his town, he doesn’t have any friends, except for the voice in his head that helps him study and claims to be the ghost of Jacob Grimm. Yes, that Grimm, of the fairytale variety. One day he is lured into a petty crime by a rambunctious young girl who has always ignored him. Suddenly, Jeremy is someone to keep an eye on; no longer the anonymous bookseller’s son. A journey into the woods, a picnic, and a deep sleep later; Jeremy finds himself in an unfortunate situation with no easy way out.

This book felt like a fairytale in every aspect. It started out as a happy-go-lucky story where all is right with the world. Then a few things happen to flip that illusion upside down, and we see that what we thought was the characters’ reality, may have just been a thin veil covering up a plethora of nightmares and villains. If you enjoy a good book with a whole lot of magic thrown in, find a comfy reading nook, snuggle in with a warm blanket, and prepare to be whisked into an alternate reality in Far Far Away.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  2 religious exclamations; 3 mild obscenities; 1 anatomical term. 

Violence/Gore:  A group of kids break in to a character’s house; a character drugs a beverage and serves it to children so he can kidnap them while they are “asleep”; a character starves a group of children and keeps them in captivity; a character is suspected to have abducted and killed a young boy.

Sex/Nudity:  A young boy and girl kiss twice; there is a scene where a boy and girl are hinted at being attracted to each other, though nothing transpires; a boy blushes when he is seen by a teen girl while he is partly undressed, this is not necessarily a sexual scene, though it could be interpreted as one; flirting; hand-holding.

Mature Subject Matter:

Abduction, mischief, breaking and entering, abuse of minors, death of a parent, parental abandonment.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults smoke; adults drink alcohol.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.