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Publisher's Summary

A National Book Award Finalist

An Edgar 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, full of twists, and perfect for fans of contemporary fairy tales like Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book and Holly Black's Doll Bones. The recipient of five starred reviews, Publishers Weekly called Far Far Away "inventive and deeply poignant".

©2013 Tom Mcneal (P)2013 Random House

Critic Reviews

A California Book Award Gold Medal Winner

"Reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel, and rife with allusions to Grimm Brothers’ tales, this is a masterful story of outcasts, the power of faith, and the triumph of good over evil." ( Booklist)

"Whether readers connect more deeply with the suspense, the magical elements, or the gloriously improbable love story, they will come away with a lingering taste of enchantment." (School Library Journal)

What listeners say about Far Far Away

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Delicious Modern Day Fairy Tale

This young adult novel is page turner that had me hooked in minutes and is currently this adult's new favorite. Reminiscent of Neil Gaimen's writing ... it is simply brilliant. A playful weaving of past and present, Grimm's fairy tales and Disney's Snow White, green smoke and open oven doors, missing children and post cards from California, the popular and the awkward, children and parents, whispers and songs, salty tears and first kisses,... oh my goodness, there are layers and layers of complexity, flavors and red herrings hidden in this simple, straightforward dark and light fairy tale... filled with fairy tales. The narration is spot on perfect, the voice of Jacob Grimm's ghost as he shares his interactions with Jeremy Johnson Johnson... the boy who can hear him. I can't wait to study the Grimm Brother's and their fairy tales... then read it again.

6 people found this helpful

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Slow at first, but finished strong

What disappointed you about Far Far Away?

The story dragged on for a long time in the middle. It was on my son's summer reading list, so we were listening to it in the car to and from camp every day, but for the middle third of the book, he completely lost interest - I actually had to keep waking him up.

Would you ever listen to anything by Tom McNeal again?

Maybe, it would depend on the synopsis of the book. But to be fair, this book was chosen for my son, he didn't choose it (and I certainly didn't choose it either).

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It picked up for about the last third of the book, and despite his complete lack of interest for several hours in the middle, it did get my son's attention again. In the end he said he liked the book, but he would've liked it a lot more if the author would've cut out 100 pages or so.

1 person found this helpful

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Suspenseful Tale

What made the experience of listening to Far Far Away the most enjoyable?

The storyteller.

What other book might you compare Far Far Away to and why?

Tales Dark and Grimm, The Sisters Grimm. These both revolve around adaptations on the stories from the Brothers Grimm.

Which scene was your favorite?

The ending scenes.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The Brothers Grimm tales happened long ago... or did they?

1 person found this helpful

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It was awesome

It so good that I listen to it all the time. This book is more for older readers

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Love this book.

My husband and I listened to this book together and we both loved the story and narrator. You will not be sorry on this purchase.

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Protracted Torture of Young Adults

The writing, humor, and especially the narration were all wonderful. So is the premise at first.
I appreciated the characters development and the world McNeal weaves.
A subjective con is that the story doesn't go anywhere in a geographical sense. I'd seen the plugs comparing FFA to Gaiman's work and had been hoping for something more fantastically sweeping like "Stardust" or "Neverwhere".
And here is something else- I know the story's narrator Jacob hints coquettishly at the story heading into darkness. But there's no decent benchmark in the prologue for how hard things veer left.
I don't like protracted violence or menace towards adolescents- and this is basically all the book offers its listeners as payoff by the end.

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What’s not to like?

It’s great. If you like fairy-tales you might like this. It is a YA book. The voice talent was solid.

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The performance was key.

The performance was key. It set the atmosphere and tone. As for the story, it became much darker than I anticipated.

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Awesome

This was the first time I've ever read an almost 400 page book and it was amazing!!!

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As Real as Ghosts and as Magical as the Unexpected

*****"Love it! An alluring tale filled with a unique fairy dust of Jeremy's, Ginger's, and Jacob's view and interaction in romance, humor, and the strength that binds them together! Reminding me that by believing in myself, all my worries and struggles can be vanished in an instant with a touch of four of the most important and necessary ingredients in life...LOVE JOY FAITH and PERSEVERANCE ☺😊😄😇😉😯😐😑😕"*****