Nothing ever happens in Filomena Jefferson-Cho's sleepy little suburban town of North Pasadena. The sun shines every day, the grass is always a perfect green, and while her progressive school swears there's no such thing as bullying, she still feels bummed out. But one day, when Filomena is walking home on her own, something strange happens.
Filomena is being followed by Jack Stalker, one of the heroes in the Thirteenth Fairy, a series of books she loves about a brave girl and her ragtag group of friends who save their world from an evil enchantress. She must be dreaming, or still reading a book. But Jack is insistent--he's real, the stories are real, and Filomena must come with him at once!
Soon, Filomena is thrust into the world of evil fairies and beautiful princesses, sorcerers and slayers, where an evil queen drives her ruthless armies to destroy what is left of the Fairy tribes. To save herself and the kingdom of Westphalia, Filomena must find the truth behind the fairytales and set the world back to rights before the cycle of sleep and destruction begins once more.
Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.
Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.
She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.
Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).
She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.
I spent a week reading all of the Goodreads Choice Awards finalists in the Middle Grade category, complete with my entire thoughts on each book, and which books I think should have won and in what order. You can check out my vlog here: https://youtu.be/d7or1qfinfo
Imagine being 12 years old and rushing to the bookstore on release day to FINALLY get the final book in your favorite series only to find out the book mysteriously wasn’t published. And on your way home, you’re almost killed by one of the creatures from that same series.
Oh that’s just the life of Filomena in Never After by Melissa De La Cruz.
This is such an incredible story. You have the examination of middle school life where Filomena is bullied for her multi ethnic background coupled with being an adoptee. This is contrasted with the magical world of Westphalia where Filomena is the strong and independent heroine who bands together with her beloved characters and friends to save the day
Thank you to Macmillan Audio for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
The first clue that Filomena Jefferson-Cho finds that something is wrong is when the thirteenth book in her favorite series fails to arrive at the bookstore as promised. She is disappointed, to say the least. But when characters from the series start following her, she is downright scared. Does Filomena hold the key to finishing the thirteenth book and saving the kingdom of Never After?
My overall feelings are that this is a fun, light read for younger middle-grade readers who are into fantasy or fairy tales.
I think for the length of this book, I would have liked to see more elaborate world-building and more depth to the main characters. There was a lot of going back-and-forth between worlds and excessive, silly drama in Filomena's "real world" that felt like filler and did not add enough to the story. Never After could have been fleshed out a lot more and the main characters were pretty superficial.
What I loved the most was the wit and humor. For example, the popular kids at Filomena's school weren't just bullies. They were the Fettucini Alfredos -- the kids rich enough to order lunch daily from the fancy, Italian restaurant across the street. She later refers to them as the Linguini Losers, the Petulant Pasta Posse, the Rotten Rigatonis, and a variety of other pasta-related epithets.
I think younger readers will find this book really fun!
This felt so rushed to me. The plot moved so fast that I didn't have time to connect with any of the characters and the plot lacked any real development. My best description of this is if someone who is bad at storytelling is summarizing this book for you and they forgot a lot of details that help the story make sense. You get the gist of the story but you lack the essence or any connection with it. Also even though it was a fantasy some aspects of this was beyond unbelievable especially involving her parents at the end. Pass.
I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
The plot is cute, but I hated the writing style. The rhymes were bad and the narration, written in the present tense, was cumbersome. It completely pulled me out of the story every time the author switched from large chunks of dialogue, written in the past tense, to narration, written in the present. I was also annoyed that the author kept calling the interwoven flashbacks “prologue” even though they were in the middle of the story.
I listened to an audiobook and seem to think it would have been better in print. The narrator did a fine job of projecting the different characters, but somehow I felt that something was missing to get the flavor of the story.
The plot isn't complicated and what made the story interesting is the re-imagined fairytales that are woven into the Never After narrative. Tales like Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and Jill, and Aladdin are cleverly spun and blended into an entertaining tale of a missing princess, and the heroic efforts of a mixed group of fairytale heroes to save the land of Never After.
I read the novel from a middle grade perspective and found it to be very entertaining. It is simplistically written and with just enough suspense, adventure and humor for the middle grade reader. Five stars.
This thoroughly enjoyable middle grade novel from Melissa De La Cruz is the great start to a new series (I hope!)
Filomena Jefferson-Cho is a HUGE fan of the Never After book series and so she's thrilled that it's finally release day for the 13th and final installment. However, when she gets to the bookstore she, and all the other fans, is crushed to discover that the author of her favorite series actually died years ago and the publisher has been publishing the books posthumously, hoping to find the 13th one before the publishing date arrived. On her way home from the bookstore she is followed by none other than Jack the Giant Stalker, the dashing hero from the Never After series.
Filomena is thrust into a world of fairy tales, ogres, fairies, and magic. Can she find out what happened to the author and how the story ends?
Filomena is a strong female protagonist (which I love!), while still being vulnerable and insecure, like every middle school girl. She makes mistakes and tries to learn from them. She finds strength she didn't know she had. She has a functional family and a good relationship with her parents (rare in a lot of middle grade novels). This book has it all - adventure, suspense, friendship, danger, fairy tales, magic, and fun. I highly recommend it!
Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss.com in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
This book is a great start to a new middle-grade series that i hope will continue with all new adventures and fairy tale friends.
Filomena Jefferson is obsessed with the Never After book series that races tot he bookstore in hopes of getting the thirteenth and final book of the series only to discover the author has been dead and her estate has been publishing the books. The author's estate cannot locate the thirteenth boo, therefore is won't ever be published. After hearing this devastating news, Filomena slogs back home only to be followed by someone resembling the hero in her books and soon after finds herself in the world of Never After for real!
This was the cutest, funniest, more imaginative middle-grade book I've read in a very long time. Filomena is a fierce protagonist whose obvious flaws almost drag her down. But she picks herself up when she realizes the fate of Never After rests on her shoulders. She's a character that young girls and boys can cheer for.
For all these reasons, NEVER AFTER is a five-star read for me. I am excited to see whats happens if the series continues.
I’ve always been a huge fan of fairy tales my whole life, so this book was right up my alley. It was a super fun and fast read that I couldn’t put down. I absolutely loved the plot, the characters, and I can’t wait for book 2!
I thought this was an enjoyable middle grade story. I loved the way the fairy tales were twisted into something almost new but with familiar faces. I can’t wait to see where else the author takes this universe she has created. Filomena Jefferson-Cho is an average 12 year old girl with over protective parents and quite the imagination. She is excited at the start of this book to finally get to read the 13th and final book to her favorite series, Never After. When she gets there she is disappointed to learn that it may never be published as the estate of the author could not find book thirteen so it may not even exist. On her way home some strange things happen and before she knows it what she thought about reality and fiction will take quite the battering. What could be better than reading the next book in your favorite series? Entering that world and staring in it yourself. She meets familiar characters who need her help to stop Olga and ogres from taking over all of Never After.
I wasn't particularly crazy about the narration. I think it could have used some editing. The story was interesting and would be especially enjoyable for kids who like retold fairy tales. I was a little disappointed in the ending - not because I think it's leading up to a sequel, but because it seemed contrived and a little anticlimactic.
What an adventure! Filomena is a reader. She’s eagerly anticipating the last book of a fantasy series that she has read so many times, she cannot count. On the day the last book is scheduled to be released, her parents allow her to travel to the bookstore after school to get her copy. But when she arrives, she learns the book wasn’t released and no one even knows where the author is! While she’s reeling from this news, she notices someone following her around. And when she learns that her stalker is THE Jack Stalker from the favorite book series, she realizes life will never be the same. He desperately urges her to come with him to save his kingdom. Suddenly she’s coming face-to-face with various characters, both good and evil, and realizing her role in saving the world. Wow, does this book pack a lot into a very small space. It’s the first in the series and I’ll definitely be reading book #2 when it’s released!
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Really quite brilliant! I picked this up from my library's audible line up and listened to it in a day because it was just so entertaining. Funny and exciting and all the fairy tale and story book characters reimagined kept me grinning all the way through. A fast paced, page-turning (or compulsive listening) wonder.
I loved this book!!! It was witty, exciting, and everything a middle-grade book should be!
First, I wanted to make sure I pointed out how funny this book was! I think that's what initially caught my attention from page one. The author uses jokes that can be appealing to both adults and children and make the book enjoyable for all. There were multiple times were I laughed out loud so now I'm going to have to read more de la Cruz books to experience her humor once more.
Also, the voice of Filomena, the main character, is strong and unique. She has already experienced some hardship in her life (a lot of bullying), but she carries herself so well. She's kind, thoughtful, a bit adventurous, and ever curious. I'm eager to learn more about her in the coming books in the series.
As I briefly mentioned above, this book covers the topic of bullying a little bit. It doesn't focus on it too much, but it's a large enough theme to help those who may have previously or may currently be struggling with this issue. The bullies in this book are dealt with in a humorous and justified way, but I suspect this topic will return in later books.
We get to meet so many fun and interesting characters in this book as we follow Filomena on her journey to discover the world of Never After. By the end, we have a whole posse of friends that I can't wait to go on more adventures with. They all add something different to the group, be it humor, strength, knowledge, fashion (I'm looking right at you Gretel), etc.
For so many reasons, only a few of which are mentioned above, this book is a 5/5 for me. It was a great beginning to a new series and I can't wait to get more of it!! I'm officially a STAN of Melissa de la Cruz.
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Unfortunately this book just was not for me. It started out strong and I loved the premise, it’s basically my dream! It just was not fleshed out how I wanted it to be.
I liked the characters though they could have been stronger, and the overall idea of a lost princess, bad ogre queen, a young girl finding out her favorite series is a real life other world etc sounded like a lot of fun, but the exposition and story in general just was not there in my opinion. It wasn’t even that it was rushed, it was just missing a lot of the middle, and sometimes that’s the most fun part! Hours of traveling pass by in a sentence, a fight scene over in a paragraph or two. So much happened in this book but what was happening was ALL that happened. There wasn’t much in between and that’s a real miss. I love middle grade, some of my absolute favorites are MG and I’ll probably never stop reading that genre, but there was just a lot missing in this for me and overall I was pretty disappointed.
Also, this was written in third person present and I realized that present tense is really not for me. I got over it eventually but there for a while I was unintentionally translating to past tense as I read because it was such a struggle. Maybe if done well but I don’t think it was here.
I put this book on my wishlist that long ago that I can't even remember why. However, last week there was a huge discount on the book, so I decided to just order it and today I felt like reading a few middle grades with a fairytale theme. I didn't read the summary, I didn't try to find out what this book was about. I trusted myself. This book must have been on my wishlist for a reason and I just started reading hoping for the best.
What I loved about this book is that it combined two of my favorite tropes. It has a reader being in love with a book series who all of a sudden ends up in the series herself. I mean, I've been a reader for as long as I can remember, long before I even went to school, and I think this is my biggest dream. I'd love to be able to jump into one of my favorite book series and to discover that it's all real and that I have an important role to play in the story.
It's also playing around with fairytales and twisting them into something new and original. Not only because the fairytales all take place in the same world and all those characters are neighbors and friends. But mostly because De la Cruz changes all the tales. It's impossible to predict what has truly happened to the characters in this story. De la Cruz kept the elements of those tales, but she gave them a new meaning and a new role to play.
Combine these two elements, already awesome enough to love this book, with a great plot and some really nice reveals and you get a middle grade that will not only keep kids entertained and wishing to know how it will all continue, but that will also speak to adults. Especially if those adults have never truly lost their inner kid. Especially if those adults still prefer fiction over real life. Especially if those adults love fairytales just as much as they used to do (or even more).
3.75 I have so many mixed feelings about this one.
I adored the way the author has taken beloved fairy tale characters and turned them into something else, especially the inclusion of ones that are not as mainstream i.e. Scheherazade, Ali Baba etc. It was very reminiscent of one of my favourite series The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer. Her depictions are fun and creative, and I was always looking forward to seeing who would appear next on the page. But it lacked character descriptions, giving only the bare minimum, and even then it was hard trying the picture them. The MC Filomena has such a strong connection to books that any bookworm will instantly feel for her, I know I did!
The writing style is different, but I got use to it pretty quickly and I was really impressed with the author's rhyming prose at the start of each prologue, very creative!
The plot meanders, and battle scenes and tasks are resolved so quickly and easily that it was hard to connect with what the characters were going through. There are elements that are confusing to the story and create a few plot holes. . The "plot twist" I saw from the very start of the book, so much so that I wouldn't even call it a twist as I thought all along that that's where the plot is heading. The characters seemed waaay older than what they are and other times younger than what they are. For younger kids, I don't think any of these would be an issue and they would find it a straight out enjoyable fantasy read, minus the adult readers reasonings
However I feel like there is SO much potential in this series, that I am actually keen to read the next one and find out what happens next!
A lot of fun and adventure in this book. Even though it’s for middle school kids, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the cute references to the fairy tales that I remember. The characters are engaging and there are some funny moments, especially from Gretel, the shoemaker’s daughter who lives in Hollywood. This was a good start to a new series and I look forward to reading the next one!
[Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.]
For those who love fairy tales, but think it could have had a better retelling that's more positive, this is the book for you.
In this book, we have some of the most notable literary characters coming to life in Never After. From Scheherazade to Ali Baba, Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk), Little Red Riding Hood, Jack Be Nimble, Aladdin's Lamp, this story retells their adventures in a new light. Maybe the bad guys in those stories aren't really the bad guys. Their stories are just twisted for the mortal world.
Sprinkle some ogres and trolls on top of this book, along with a princess with a curse from the 13th fairy, and we have this new series from Melissa de la Cruz.
Now, I've seen The Descendants on Disney. I've seen all of the movies, actually. This book is very much like The Descendants, including the ending. What I mean by the latter is that we go through this whole adventure and we get to the ending and there's supposed to be some epic ending and then it's just Disneyfied so the villain gets one last word in before giving up and retreating.
In this one, it's like the villain broke her nail and called the battle off. I literally thought, "That's it?" This epic battle turned into this? In other words, the epic battle was not epic. It was a little hissy fight and nothing more.
I've read a lot of Middle Grade books and I've read far better fight scenes in the formulaic YA/middle grade stories. You won't see Rick Riordan or Rick Riordan Presents having such a boring epic battle conclusion. Once again, it was just too Disney, too Descendants. It's formula writing and frankly, it's stuff like this that explains why they say YA is dying. This ending could have been written better. It's like she was rushed and tried to tie it all up at the end.
Besides that battle conclusion getting a thumbs down from me, the rest of the story was great. I loved what Melissa was doing all throughout this book. She was redefining these fairy tales in a wonderful way. I think she could expand more on this in future books (which I'm looking forward to reading), just so long as she creates better epic battle conclusions at the end of her book.
OR maybe just throw the whole YA/middle grade formula out and really throw the A-game into this series. Create a new formula that's not so predictable or Disneyfied.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
This is Children's Middle Grade/Fantasy. Unfortunately this one was only 2 stars for me. I did add an extra star because it was definitely age appropriate and I can always applaud that since it isn't always the case.
I thought the story line was very creative. That was my favorite part. But I struggled with some of the writing. I wanted more world building and character details. Overall, it felt a little rushed and transparent. SO 2 stars plus an extra one equals 3.
This was a really fun retelling of the fairy tales where the Never After series tells the real truth of what happened in the fairy tales. So the bad guys may not actually be the bad guys and the heroes are sometimes less than stellar. Filomena Jefferson Cho is a girl living in California who was adopted as a baby. She knows nothing about her birth parents, but she loves the people who raised her. They are a bit overprotective, but she appreciates them anyway, especially because she doesn't have any friends in or out of school. In fact, she seems to be the target of bullies, and teachers and administrators basically look away. So she survives in her world of books, especially her favorite series, the Never After stories. As she waits for the final book to come out, she is sucked into the world of the Never After, and there our story truly begins. I love the slow development of the prologue, which was sprinkled throughout the book as more of the story developed. And while some of the main plot was predictable, it was still an enjoyable adventure. I loved how the real truth of the original fairy tales would come out--some of them made me laugh. I think this story would be perfect for middle school readers of fantasy books, but I also enjoyed it as an adult. The book is not listed as being part of a series, but it ends in such a way that the author leaves it open for many adventures to come, and I really hope she does so! I would love to go back and see Filomena, Jack, Gretel, and Allistair in future adventures!
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Filomena Jefferson-Cho has a seemingly ordinary life in Northern Pasadena, CA. She is the daughter of two writers. She lives with her parents and their dog and is a rather lonely outcast. She spends her time devouring the Never After series (12 Books so far), but when the 13th book isn't published, nor will it be, she is devastated. That is...until one of the heroes of the book, Jack Stalker (from the Beanstalk fame) finds her and tells her she has to help find the Genie's lamp to rid Never After of the Ogres. Dumbstruck, she follows. The adventure ensues. Filomena's adventures unite her with Jack, his companion Alistair, and Gretel (from the Candy Cottage story) as well as a discovery of self, tackling feminist issues in fairytales, ogres, wolves and dragons. Intermittently throughout, the story reverts back to the Christening of the Princess Eliana (who we know of as Sleeping Beauty) who was cursed by the 13th Fairy, or so we think. Can Filomena save Never After, defeat the Ogre Queen and find the hero within?
So what sets this fairytale spin-off apart from others like it (Land of Stories, Isle of the Lost, Whatever After, School of Good and Evil, Ever After High, etc.)? -A combination of Filomena's overall character and growth, not only as a realistic tween, but her sass and can-do attitude, considering her devotion to the Never After series; -the humor of Alistair and Filomena's disbelief at certain moments; -The dangers which she and her companions face is descriptive and immersive, definitely geared towards a middle school audience, making the darkness of the circumstances feel more real and less kid-friendly; -While there are many fairytale retellings or adaptations, Melissa de la Cruz, gives us a very different take on the characters and who they are or who we think they are; -The suspenseful twists are very clever and thought-out in keeping the reader guessing;
As far as this being an audiobook, Imani Jade Powers does a great job of creating unique voices for most of the characters. She provides a great voice for Filomena, capturing the innocence, subtle and not-so-subtle sass, mental attitude and heart of this protagonist. She serves as an excellent narrator. She brings the action to life with her reading, never missing a switch-up in character or tone in narration.
While the book is obviously geared towards a younger audience, a reader/listener who has read multiple fantasy stories can see various tropes and begin to piece where the ending is headed. It is the power of de la Cruz's writing with its small twists that will keep the readers engaged and not have all of their answers given until later.
Overall, a fun fantasy read for Fairytale fans wanting a little something different and featuring a tad more diversity;
Twelve year old Filomena Jefferson-Cho is given permission from her parents to visit the book store on her way home from school. She can hardly wait to get her hands on the newest release of the final book in her favorite series, but, she is sorely disappointed to find out that for some mysterious reason, the book wasn’t published. As she heads home, she is attacked and almost killed by one of the creatures from that same series, and she meets one of the characters, one of the heroes. Using a spell she has memorized, she saved them both and her life will never be the same again.
Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy is a middle grades story and although it can be read by others, the story is perfect for that age group. The plot isn't complicated, but what made the story interesting is the re-imagined fairytales that are woven into the story. Fairytales/Nursery Rhymes or their characters such as, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, and Jack and Jill, are switched up and blended into an entertaining tale of a missing princess, a missing fairy, and the heroic efforts of a mixed group of heroes to save the kingdom of Westphalia in the land of Never After. The other thing I really like is the way Filomena is contrasted between the two worlds. In North Pasadena, she is bullied for her multi ethnic background as well as being adopted. Although she and her parents love each other and it is a happy family, her parents are overprotective and she is rather shy and quiet. In Westphalia, Filomena is a strong, smart, courageous, independent heroine who bands together with her beloved characters and friends to save the day. This book has adventure, suspense, friendship, danger, fairy tales, magic, and fun. I recommend it and know I will continue to read it and learn more about Never After. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.
Thank you to Netgalley for a free copy of The Thirteenth Fairy. This is my honest review. I am a massive Disney fan and have heard a lot about Melissa de la Cruz so I was very excited when I got this ARC. Knowing it would be about storybook characters coming to life was the icing on the cake. The story starts off very reminiscent of Sleeping Beauty but Melissa de la Cruz puts her own spin on it. As she says, "the tales are wrong. The tales are twisted and untrue*". And then we meet Filomena. A 12 year old not very socially outgoing bookworm with overprotective yet loving parents. She is eagerly awaiting the final book of a series that defined her childhood. This is describing me! I have a strong feeling we would be friends in real life. Reading this was such an enjoyable adventure. My younger self would have loved reading this book. As a twenty something now, I am also so happy I picked it up because I spent a delightful couple of hours reading it. My only criticism is how quickly some characters accepted things and towards the end, I think too many fairytales were mentioned. I can't wait to read more by Melissa de la Cruz especially if she returns to this world. If you like the TV series Once Upon a Time or twists on fairytale retellings, I think you'll like this and you should get a copy when it is published in December 2020. [* uncorrected digital proof, page 6]
I entered my points to win this book and I'm so glad I did. I'm familiar with Melissa de la Cruz from the Alex and Eliza Trilogy, but this book was just as fun. I loved the characters. They were all from fairy tales, but they still had personalities that made them work for today. The plot is interesting because you are left wondering who wrote the fantasy book Never After. I don't want to spoil the plot, but there was an interesting twist that I really enjoyed. As a reader who reads a lot of retellings, I know what it takes to write a great retelling, and Melissa de la Cruz does that. When bringing the characters to a new or modern setting, you can easily lose some of the original stories for the one you want to tell. This book had writing that told a new story, but it could have been a classic fairy tale. There was no romance in this book, but I loved the friendships and seeing the characters interact. The last star in my review is for personal enjoyment. This book is a fun Middle-Grade Fantasy and I believe fans of the genre will enjoy it.
I entered my points to win this book and I'm so glad I did. I'm familiar with Melissa de la Cruz from the Alex and Eliza Trilogy, but this book was just as fun. I loved the characters. They were all from fairy tales, but they still had personalities that made them work for today. The plot is interesting because you are left wondering who wrote the fantasy book Never After. I don't want to spoil the plot, but there was an interesting twist that I really enjoyed. As a reader who reads a lot of retellings, I know what it takes to write a great retelling, and Melissa De La Cruz does that. When bringing the characters to a new or modern setting, you can easily lose some of the original stories for the one you want to tell. This book had writing that told a new story, but it could have been a classic fairy tale. There was no romance in this book, but I loved the friendships and seeing the characters interact. The final star in my review is for personal enjoyment. This book is a fun Middle-Grade Fantasy and I believe fans of the genre will enjoy it.