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Title: Far Far Away
Author: Tom McNeal
Year Published: 2013
Synopsis: It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn't even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he's able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it's been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn't been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, 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 when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings...
Young adult veteran Tom McNeal (one half of the writing duo known as Laura & Tom McNeal) has crafted a novel at once warmhearted, compulsively readable, and altogether thrilling--and McNeal fans of their tautly told stories will not be disappointed.
Review: I was really excited to read this book, especially since there are fairy tales, the Grimm brothers, mystery, ghosts, and all sorts of things that make up a great book (in my humble opinion). And McNeal did not disappoint at all! I found myself not wanting to put this book down, and finished it much more quickly than I thought I would. I loved every minute of it.
The pacing does drag a little bit near the middle, and there were a few times when I thought it would end soon.. but it really ended up not being so bad, and those parts were very important to the plot. Especially when it comes to the thing Jacob is supposed to be protected Jeremy from. There are so many clues leading up to who the "unknown dark evil" is that I thought it was pretty obvious when it's finally revealed, but if you aren't looking for them, I think they would be easy enough to miss.
I was not really a fan of Ginger at first, but I came to really like her by the end. I thought she was going to be one of those "take advantage of the nerdy kid" popular girls, but she's really so much bigger and better than that. Although many of the characters are fairly stagnant, I felt like the main characters, and those directly related to them, grow and change enough that things don't get too boring in that area.
Overall though, this is a really sweet story with an excellent, intriguing plot. I loved being in the present but also going back to the past and learning more about Jacob and the rest of his family. I don't know much about the personal lives of the Grimm brothers, but I loved the spin that McNeal gave while still including enough factual details that it doesn't seem too stretched. Everything about this book is just fantastic though!
I would totally recommend this book to anyone who loves fairy tales and anyone who is especially interested in the Grimm Brothers' Fairy Tales. This book will not disappoint you, and is definitely worth the read! I would have loved to see more books set in this world, but I'm actually kind of glad it was a standalone. A 5/5 from me!