reviews

Series Review – Futhermore and Whichwood

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Series: Furthermore by Taherah Mafi
Books:
Furthermore (3,5 stars) and Whichwood (3 stars)
Release Date: 2016 / 2017
Tags: Middle Grade / Fairy Tale / Alice in Wonderland / Necromancy / Ghosts / Diversity / POC / Black MC

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Reading Challenge(10)

 Alice Alexis Queensmeadow 12 rates three things most important: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. Father disappeared from Ferenwood with only a ruler, almost three years ago. But she will 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. Her only companion is Oliver whose own magic is based in lies and deceit. Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.
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Synopsis of Furthermore

 

 Reading Challenge(11)

Over time I have heard amazing things about Taherah Mafi as an author. Her writing style is apparently the most amazing thing of ever. The Shatter Me books never appealed to me but her two middle grade books for sure did. Unfortunately they didn’t quite live up to the hype.

Furthermore and its companion sequel Whichwood are set in a fairytale type of world where powers exist. In Furthermore we focus on Alice who is completely white in skin tone who goes out to find her father in Furthermore with Oliver. It turns out she has the most amazing power. She just doesn’t realize it herself. In Whichwood we meet Laylee who is a mordeshoor, someone who takes care of the dead so they can rest in peace. But she isn’t respected in Whichwood for her hard work and when she turns ill, her life takes a turn for the worst. Enter Alice and Oliver who are send to help as Alice’s quest.

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Both books have fairytale like setting. Furthermore very much is Alice in Wonderland inspired. But with some interesting tweaks of its own. Some of the powers that are there were very unique and interesting. In Whichwood I loved how Laylee had so much respect for dead bodies and the ghosts at such a young age. She of course was forced into this however. But even so she stepped up to the plate big time.

However I cannot quite get passed the writing style. Both books are written by a narrator who very clearly knows the main characters in both books and is recounting their stories. So in a sense we get talked to. Which I think for a middle grade is fine way to approach something so fairytale like. But there are bits and pieces where we get weird chapters of two pages where it just feels like a summary. Or where the narrator goes oh well won’t bother with their conversation. Uhm no I would love to see their conversation and their bonding. Because of this there is so much tell and little show. The narrator voice just grated on me. A bit over dramatic, even for a middle grade.

Moving on to that I have a big problem with the parents and grown-ups in this. They send such a wrong message that all of these things that went wrong were Laylee, Alice and Oliver’s fault and took absolutely no responsibility for any of it. Sure they made some wrong decisions and should be held accountable for that but the bigger mistakes were with the parents that abandoned their child, the city eldest that send in two children without any kind of information and expecting perfection. Or how about the community that let a young 13 year old girl struggle with the dead and not even paying for her service (or kicking her father’s ass right back to her to take care of her). And no, their mistakes and flaws, they aren’t held accountable for. Not really. There is no sorry, no apology from any of them. This is what bothers me the most about these books but especially in Whichwood. Which is a shame because Whichwood in itself is a deliciously dark tale.

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Character wise I think that Alice, Oliver, Laylee and Benyamin are well likeable characters. I especially took a liking to Laylee who has to go through so much and who is so responsible. And caring even if she struggles to show that to others. I just wanted to hug her and protect her. Oliver is another interesting addition. When other people learn of his powers they distrust him. I would have loved to have seen more of him with his parents. Trying to rebuild the trust he lost. Alice is headstrong and knows what she wants. Benyamin is the soft hearted boy.

Overall I am a bit disappointed. However I would still easily recommend these towards kids. Especially Whichwood with Laylee. Not only is Laylee a great character, she also has a dark skin as can be seen on the cover. That really isn’t seen that much in middle grade, especially not as the main character. And for that alone Whichwood is so important.

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17 thoughts on “Series Review – Futhermore and Whichwood

  1. I listened to Futhermore with my 10 year old. She loved it and would give it a 5 star rating. I would give it a 3. I think it’s definitely geared for a younger crowd. We haven’t read Whichwood yet. I think I might have her do that one on her own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I decided a long time ago to not read Shatter Me as some trusted readers have told me I would just get annoyed. But I like her as a person so I really wanted to give these books a go.

      Like

  2. Lovely reviews! ❤
    I've read Shatter Me, but didn't feel it was as good as the hype made it to be, it was definitely a good book, but I didn't continue to read the others for a reason or another. These books seem interesting and people have been raving about them, I'm really happy to have found your review because it sets more realistic expectations for me.
    Thank you for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Shatter Me series is one people are pretty mixed on.
      I’m glad my review could help. I think having realistic expectations will help you enjoy the book more I think. I really wasn’t expecting the writing style as it was.

      Like

  3. I’ve thought that these books sound very similar to Valente’s Fairyland (which I loved), but not written in a style I would enjoy. I’m still curious about Whichwood, though, for the reasons that you mentioned enjoying it. I wasn’t planning on reading Futhermore first – do you think I can skip it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you can. They are written as companions and in Whichwood the narrator does explain what happened in Furthermore in a way that you wouldn’t need to read it and still get a bit of the background on Alice.
      I still want to read Fairyland! I have the first book.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I read Furthermore last year and really enjoyed it. That said, I sometimes struggle with Mafi’s writing. In fact, I just DNF’d Shatter Me due to the writing style. You’re not alone. It just doesn’t work for me.

    I agree that this series is Alice in Wonderland inspired. In fact, I’d say (at least Furthermore) a cross between that a The Phantom Tollbooth. Questing!

    I also saw issues with how parents were represented in Furthermore. My book club got into a hot debate about whether this is acceptable, because it’s how traditional fairy tales often are, or if this is unacceptable because this is a modern book and should adhear to our modern sensibilities. It was super interesting discussion.

    I’ll definitely read Whichwood. Your review convinced me that the themes I identified continue, but I could look past them in book 1 to enjoy the story. So, onward I go. Great review, Annemieke!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think for me it is important as to who the book is for. It isn’t written for old fairy tale lovers but for our current middle grade kids and as such I feel that the books should have send a better message.

      I hope you’ll enjoy Whichwood!

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  5. Aw, no. I’m sorry this series didn’t really work out for you! I’ve been interested in reading them for a while, especially after I re-read the first three Shatter Me books to get ready for Restore Me earlier in the year. I’d be interested to see how Mafi’s writing style translates to middle grade fiction. Though I will go in knowing about the narrator. It seems strange that the narrator would skip conversations and bonding between characters. Both of those aspects are so important! What a shame :/ Also, adults with no accountability is… not so great. And not a good message to be sending, either… Anyway, thank you for the reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

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