I don't really read a lot of middle-grade fiction, but I knew that I had to pick this one up, if not for the concept, for the fact that it was written by Tahereh Mafi. And I have to say, I'm quite glad I did. I didn't absolutely adore it, but I found it light-hearted and just what I needed right now.

Hello everyone!

I am back today with another book review, Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi.

The story follows 12-year-old Alice. She lives in Ferenwood, a magical world where colour signifies magic. The more colour you possess, the more magical you are. However, Alice was born without any colour, the only person born this way in the town. After the disappearance of her father, she worked to channel the little magic she has inside her and soon finds herself helping her worst enemy, Oliver, travel to Furthermore and find her father.

Firstly, I would just like to say how well done the magical aspects of this world were. I think a lot of times, especially in middle-grade books, world development in a fantasy/magical story can get glossed over. Mafi does a great job not only of describing the world, but also the history and reasoning behind the magic it possesses. The descriptions of Furthermore are particularly vivid and I think it really helped immerse the reader in the story.

I think that Mafi also did a good job keeping the characters in their middle-grade ages. Sometimes, both the reader and the author, seem to forget that the characters are children. Mafi keeps the characters emotions and thoughts on par with their ages and I never thought they were older than they actually were. This isn't to say that this book won't be enjoyed by readers of all ages - I think it will be, but I think that she was very cognizant of the intended audience.

Like most middle-grades, the messages of friendship, perseverance, and kindness were prevalent throughout the book. I think sometimes they were a little overloaded, at times I felt like I was a bit bombarded with this kind of feel-good attitude. Maybe it's just because I'm older and a little more jaded, but some of the repetition of the "above all else, sacrifice for those you care about" message was a little much at times. Not saying it's a bad message, but I got the point the first three times.

I'm not sure if it was intentional or if I'm just seeing a connection because I think there is one, but there were parts that felt very reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. This definitely wasn't a retelling, but, aside from the main character being named Alice, there were some similarities in the violent, cannibalistic tendencies of the creatures of Furthermore and just the overall magical feel of the story. Like I said, I don't know if this was intended, but I found some really interesting connections.

I did feel like the ending was just a little bit rushed and wrapped up just a little too neatly. Maybe I'm used to the rough and tumble world of older age groups, but things just seemed a bit too Happily Ever After for me. We are hanging on for 400+ pages and then in the last 20, everything is neatly explained with minimal consequences. It didn't seem super realistic to me, but then again, perhaps Mafi was going for more of an age-appropriate than a realistic ending.

I think the writing was good, but I don't know if it was anything too special. I found that, at times, it felt like it was trying to be more than it was if that makes any sense. Some of the passages didn't need to be so long because there was so much imagery and extra added in that - for the most part - weren't super necessary. I'm also just a little bit peeved we didn't find out who the narrator was.

Overall, a good middle grade adventure, but not my favourite from Mafi.