Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Far Far Away
Jeremy Johnson Johnson is a bit of an oddity for the small town of Never Better. Not only did his mother run away, but his dad rarely leaves his bed, and he runs the Two Book Bookstore, which literally only carries two books-volumes I and II of his grandfather's autobiography. But what makes Jeremy truly unique is that he hears the voices of the dead, and most often the voice of Jacob Grimm. While the rest of the town's teens are off causing mayhem and eating Prince Cake (a rare delicacy from the town's baker) Jeremy is being lead in his studies by Jacob, until he takes up Ginger on her offer for Prince Cake. Now Ginger and Jeremy are not only getting to know each other, but they are also trying to keep his home from being foreclosed upon and, with Jacob's help, trying to stay safe from the cruel Keeper of Occasions. This tale mixes fairy tale elements with a contemporary setting and weaves in horror story details to create a book that is both quiet and exciting.
I received a free galley of Far Far Away from the publisher. I've said before that these free galleys run the gambit from pretty good to abysmal, but this might just be one of the best galleys I have ever read. At first, the book is so quiet and slow, but not slow in a bad way, just calming. The whole story is actually told from the point of view of the ghostly Jacob Grimm, so you are getting a personal look into his life and career while learning more about Jeremy. While Jeremy is coming out of his shell and interacting with Ginger, there is a danger growing, and readers are lead to believe that it is the most obvious choice, but by remembering your fairy tales, you will soon see who poses the real danger. Then there is nothing but tension as Jeremy and Ginger get closer and closer to this person as Jacob fights to find a solution to this building problem.
I would not call this a modern fairy tale. The only fantastical thing about this book is that Jeremy can hear Jacob Grimm. Many of Grimm's fairy tales are alluded to, or even told outright, but there are no dark monsters, no brave heroes on horseback, and for the longest time you are convinced that there are no happy endings. The characters themselves know that they are not in a fairy tale. That justice is not always given to the villain and that the innocent are not always avenged. It is a dark tale at points, but very moving.
I think that I was in just the right place to read this book. I bought into the premise of Jacob Grimm wholeheartedly. I bought into the evil of the Finder of Occasions and the cruelty and charity of the small town. I found myself being so completely sucked into Never Better that I had a hard time pulling myself away, but when I finished, I needed a break to absorb what I had just read.
This was a great weekend to get in some quality reading time. I sat on the porch, drank my coffee and read with the dog. What a great Memorial Day weekend!