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Far Far Away

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  3,551 ratings  ·  990 reviews
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 fa...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Angypants I read this as an ebook in the dark, and it's not horror, per se, but the suspense was killing me! Finished it in two days, and love it.
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15th out of 94 books — 363 voters
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Mock Printz 2014
18th out of 69 books — 686 voters

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Community Reviews

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Laura McNeal
Even though I'm married to Tom and this makes me a tiny, tiny bit less credible, there are at least nine reasons why you're going to love this book as much as I do:

1) There's a character named Conk Crinklaw.
2) It's narrated by a melancholy but not depressing ghost named Jacob Grimm.
3) The main character, Jeremy Johnson Johnson, is the only one who can hear Jacob Grimm, who speaks 10 languages, several of them dead.
4) Cake is involved.
5) Not just cake, but a very elaborate Swedish type calle...more
Litchick (aka Navessa Allen)
I’m not sure if I couldn’t get into this book because I’m not its target audience or if it was really as confusing as I think it was. It must have been as confusing as I think it was because I’m obviously still too confused to figure out if it was really that confusing. Does that make sense? Or do I sound like I’m messed up? I feel like I’m messed up after reading this but I’ve had not a drop to drink nor imbibed in any legal or illegal “medications”. Granted, my fiancé could have spiked my coff...more
V.C. Birlidis
A wonderfully dark tale. A true brothers Grimm tale. The creepiness of this book hovered above until it struck with brilliant swiftness. I've been always one to believe that a true mark of a talented author is the ability to make the reader want the end, fear the end and sadden when you've reached the end. I truly loved it.
Hmm. This book, friends, is going to be hard for me to review.

Because what Tom McNeal has done here is write a modern story that reads like an old-fashioned fairy tale.

And that’s both good and bad.

Like many fairy tales, we’ve got characters with bizarre names and back stories.

There’s Sten Blix, the jolly baker, who looks like Santa Claus and creates magical pastries that make you fall in love. There’s Conk Crinklaw, mayor’s son and town bully, who not-so-secretly is in love with Ginger Boultingh...more
Like nothing I've ever read before. This story is beautiful, haunting, horrifying, suspenseful, and clever. It's much darker than many so-called "kids'" books, & I think most kids 11+ will be fine with that. I'll be recommending this to adult readers as well.
Larry Hoffer
I'd rate this 4.5, maybe even 4.75 stars.

"It don't matter how young you are or how old you get or how brittle your bones are or how leaky your gray cells, you are still going to flat like a happy ending."

If you're a believer in happy endings, in fairy tales, enchanted spells, ghosts that have a purpose, and evil forests, than Tom McNeal's wonderfully magical Far Far Away is a book for you. But if you can't get your head around any of these concepts, this is probably not a book you'll enjoy.

In a...more
Far Far Away is a book that I am finding difficult to review without raving over certain portions and accidentally throwing out a spoiler. I will proceed with caution.

If you have ever read a book that makes you wonder why it took someone so long to produce this kind of genius, then you will be able to grasp how I felt about this story. While the tales of the Brother's Grimm have become rather popular in recent days, this is the first book I have found that did them justice.

If you are searching...more
Throughout this entire story, all I could think of was sitting in Janice Del Negro's Storytelling class and wonder what she would think of this particular fairy tale.
I received a copy of Far Far Away from the publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

I have mixed feelings on this one, I really liked the premise of Far Far Away. I mean cmon, if you were a kid who loves to read and could hear the voice of any ghost, being able to chat with the ghost of one half of the Brothers Grimm. It would be a dream come true.

That being said, this book felt really slow. I enjoyed it but it just took too long to get to the real grit or even just a hint of what...more

Beautifully written fairy tale best suited for younger YA readers

As the book blurb states, Far Far Away is a tale of a boy, a girl, and a ghost. But it is also more than that: it is a beautifully written story about friendship, love, regret, and the evil that can lurk under the most benevolent of façades.

It's infrequent that I read a book and can tell how much time and planning an author put into it by the way the story unfolds, by how the details that seemed initially irrelevant are brought in...more
Kat Heckenbach
I was actually a little skeptical of this book. I have to be honest--the cover turned me off. I don't normally mention covers in reviews unless they are exceptional or really bad. This one was sort of a non-cover to me. Just nothing. Boring. Made me almost pass the book by.

But. I. Am. So. Glad. I. Didn't.

First of all the concept is cool. A boy hearing the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm! I was, however, afraid it would end up hokey or...I don't know. I just really doubted it was going to be pu...more
Age: High School-Adult

Daaaaaaaaamn. Why are there so many good books out there? Well, now I can check this fabulous novel off the list. I was ridiculously intrigued by the elements of this story: a boy that can talk to ghosts, a boy that can talk to Jacob Grimm's ghost (!!!), Jacob being stuck in an in between world trying to discover his unfinished business, his "unknown yet unmet desire," the growing friendship between a quiet boy and a curious girl. Such unique and intriguing plot lines that...more
This book is not something I'd normally be interested in reading, but To Be Sung Underwater was one of my favorite books of 2011. I had no idea that McNeal had another life as a children's author.

This one's actually a title for teens, and I found it quite charming. It reminded me so much of Pushing Daisies that I even heard Jim Dale's voice as I was reading it.

Jeremy Johnson Johnson is an outcast in his small town of Never Better. His two surnames honor the fact that his parents were both name...more
"This is the strange and fateful tale of a boy, a girl and a ghost." The ghost of Jacob Grimm, to be exact, whose job it is to protect the boy, Jeremy from A Finder of Occasions. The boy's ability to hear the ghost's voice is just another thing that keeps him from fitting in at school. That, plus the fact that his mother ran away with another man which caused his heartbroken father to take to his bed, where he spends his sad life. Ginger, the girl, is popular, vivacious, and daring. In short, sh...more
Monica Edinger
This is a very unique read, sort of spooky, definitely creepy as it goes on. With one notable exception, the characters are-not-quite Grimm characters, but nearly. The book is filled with Grimm tropes and you think the author is going to take you in somewhat predictable fairy-tale directions and he doesn't. McNeal really knows how to make food sound really scrumptious and also various characters twinkly and fun until...they are not. It probably would have given me nightmares as a kid. That is, I...more
Gah, this was so, so good. A truly timeless quality to it - tons of suspense and creepiness, a sweet romance, great secondary characters, a real page-turner. Loved it. Let's just slap a Newbery Medal on one side, a Printz Medal on the other, and call it a day, shall we?
Laurie Jean
Captures the wonder of listening.... What did I hear in the rustling leaves.... Yes it is a child's fancy to have a happy ending. But then too are we all not still a child at heart.... Are you listening?
So even as a young adult I don’t think I would have been into this book at all. As an adult who’s about to go into teaching, this book has some redeeming qualities. For one, it’s easy to read. The words and story are not difficult to follow at all. But there are a number of difficult words that could be used in a vocabulary test. Also, there are characters students could relate to or understand, such as Jeremy, Ginger, Frank, and Conk. Far Far Away does a good job blending reality with fairy tal...more
Intrusive narrator + adult main character + slow action = a book adults think kids will like. Bleh.
Patti McAnally
Okay, I feel I must confess my love of fairy tales and stories with a fairy-tale feel. I say this because my preference possibly pushed a 4-star novel into 5-star territory for me. I wish we could give 4.5 stars.
This is an odd little book. And I mean "odd" in a good way, as "different and unexpected". It captured my attention right away, although I couldn't really figure out where it was going for a good while. Our hero, Jeremy Johnson Johnson, hears voices. Specifically, he hears the voice of J...more
This book disproved my whole theory that I have a gaping black vortex instead of a heart because I cried like an idiot at the end. There are a lot of narrative similarities to The Book Thief, but while that book made me roll my eyes even as I realized I'm a terrible person, this one made me hug the book afterward. The ending was so beautiful and sweet!

It's kind of funny to have tagged this with so many fantasy labels at the same time as including on my "realistic" shelf. It has magic cakes and...more
When I started Far Far Away I expected it to be a fantasy with parts of fairy tales interweaved into the storyline. However, Far Far Away is more of a magic realism/ mystery with very slight magical elements. When I finally realized it was not a fantasy, I wondered if I was going to enjoy the story. However, I quickly became absorbed in the lives and characters in the book. This is the story of Jeremy Johnson Johnson who can hear the voice of the ghost Jacob Grimm. Despite the presence of Jacob,...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeremy Johnson Johnson lives in Never Better, a small, blink-and-you'll-miss-it town in the midwest (as best as I can tell; the exact location isn't given). As with many such small towns, there are definite characters: Jeremy's father never leaves their house, there's a crazy lady waiting for the son that disappeared years ago to reappear, the deputy sheriff is a near-dwarf, and the baker makes the most amazing treat, a Princes Tart. Jeremy himself is a little odd, unatheletic and prone to heari...more
I enjoyed this book but can't really decide how much I liked it. I had trouble getting into it, but ended up really liking the relationship between Jeremy and Jacob and got a bit teary at the end. Without having heard so much buzz, I don't think I would have walked away from this book thinking that it had any special award-winning qualities (I put it on our Mock Printz for all its attention though).

One thing that really bothered me that I couldn't place the location of the town. Is it in the so...more
4.5. This is my favorite book I've read so far on my short list for the 2014 Newbery award. It's definitely on the older range of the Newbery age range, junior high and up. It's definitely a little more "mature" but oh so well done. The writing is definitely distinguished and the characters are really memorable. I have always loved a good fairy tale twist. This one is more like fairy tale twist meets scary horror novel. My guess is you will either love it or hate it. I thought it was great.
Brandy Painter
Yes, Far Far Away has all those literary elements people like to declare "important" and get all excited about. I can see why people who like those sort of things would like this book. I, however, do not like intrusive narrators, and this book's narrator made me want to smack him. This is unfortunate since he is also really the main character. For the majority of the book, the reader is treated to the ghost of Jacob Grimm discussing his intrusions into the life of a young man and his observances...more

A latent mystery and a modern fairy tale wrapped together in a novel that wastes not one single word – the kind of book that will cause you to leap out of your chair and walk around exclaiming your surprise to anyone in earshot. Cannot speak highly enough – so many layers!
This book had moments that I liked, and it was well written, but the pacing of the story needed some serious work. To me, it seemed like the author stretched out the expository parts of the story while skipping through the exciting parts.

It was also difficult to nail the setting and time period. As it's narrated by a ghost from old Germany, there are obviously some things that he doesn't understand, but there was something about the way the younger characters spoke with one another that made me...more
Michael Greenan
The author is an expert with narrative. He does a great job of mixing the narrator's thoughts and observations with action and dialogue. I always looked forward to reading this book. The first two-thirds deal with the hero's personal problems: he is shunned by the city, he faces eviction from his home, he has an immobile father, and he has painful family memories. In the last third of the novel, the conflict becomes more sinister when the hero and his girlfriend are kidnapped by the villain.

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Come see Tom McNeal at the Imperial Beach Library 1 4 Feb 26, 2014 03:54PM  
Henrico Youth Boo...: Far Far Away by Tom McNeal 6 25 Jan 16, 2014 06:15AM  
Mock Printz 2015: Far Far Away by Tom McNeal 7 75 Nov 01, 2013 07:52AM  
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Tom McNeal was born in Santa Ana, California, where his father and grandfather raised oranges. He spent part of every summer at the Nebraska farm where his mother was born and raised, and after earning a BA in English at UC Berkeley and an MFA in Creative Writing at UC Irvine, he taught school in the town that was the inspiration for his novel, Goodnight, Nebraska. Tom has been a Wallace Stegner F...more
More about Tom McNeal...
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“He says that all that happens when you go far, far away is that you discover you've brought yourself along.” 8 likes
“He turned toward my voice. "Am I well?" His mocking tone was unmistakable. "Am I well? Why can't you just talk like everyone else? Why can't you just say, 'How you doin'? You doin' good?'"

Very well, then, I said. I look forward to the day when every schoolchild will read Shakespeare's great comedic play All's Good That Ends Good.
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