Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Too Far by Rich Shapero

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):   Rich Shapero’s Too Far follows a pair of ultra-imaginative six-year-olds, Robbie and Fristeen, through a transformative summer spent exploring the woods behind their remote Alaskan homes. As their family lives become increasingly unstable, the children travel deeper and farther into their private world. The forest—and the gods who inhabit it—becomes their refuge until, at summer’s end, they are forced to choose between the crushing prospects of the real world, and the lethal demands of their ideal one.

And here's what I thought:  I don't think I have said this before, but.... I didn't get it.  I think it's the kind of book that will either really resonate with a reader, or really not and for me, this didn't resonate at all.

I understood that the story was from the perspective of Robbie, who is six, and the friend he makes, Fristeen --- but to me, it wasn't realistic.  Maybe it was supposed to be fantastical, but most of the time, I felt lost.  At first, I wasn't sure if Fristeen was even real (I was thinking she was an imaginary friend made up by Robbie).   There is a voice that Robbie hears from time to time, and I wasn't sure what that was all about, either.   I'm all for stories where the main characters are children with vast imaginations, who make a lot of things up, but a lot of this story just never came together for me.

The author's writing and pacing also threw me off a bit because I found both to be inconsistent.  At times, the writing is extremely descriptive, but then will suddenly become a bit abrupt, which makes the pacing somewhat choppy.    And, at times, I found the dialogue to be odd.   Example, on page 53: "Dream, Robbie, dream.  Right here, right now.  Anything you choose.  Crack the sun open and paint your face with its yolk.  Cast the fragments from you and turn the world to smoke.  Pull the tacks from the night and roll the sky up..."  Interesting, but to me, a bit strange to say to a six-year-old.

Obviously, as I said, this book just didn't resonate with me.  I completely understand if there are readers who really enjoy this book, because I think has elements that some readers will respond to.  However, I found myself just stumbling through this story, feeling like I was in a world I never understood, with characters that just never seemed quite real to me.  This is the first time I've given a "Meh" rating, and it feels quite odd....

First sentences: On the outskirts of Fairbanks, down a gravel road, a small house and a family had taken root among the trees.  A man and a woman, and a six-year-old boy.  They had come a long distance, impelled by an idea, like seed flock on the wind.  In May the northern sky pales early.  Dreams trail off, and you wake and dress yourself.  Robbie, the boy, managed that himself now.

Thoughts on the cover: Very funky and fractal-like, at once harmonic and chaotic -- and I am not sure it's well-suited to the story, although it's very eye-catching.


Karen said...

Well, the cover is interesting. I guess we can't like them all. I don't think I would get it either based on what you've quoted.

Jen (@ Jens Book Closet) said...

I do love that cover. I think the prospect of reading a whole book about a 6 year old turns me off, up front. Not that I don't love kids, but I prefer books about older people...I guess I get them more. IDK, at least the cover is rockin'!

In the Closet With a Bibliophile

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

Uh oh. I don't think this one will work for me either. Thanks for the honest review.

Anonymous said...

The Too Far App is completely awesome. I have an iPad and downloaded it for free - i luv it and it.

Anonymous said...

Too Far was a great story I was very interested! At first I wasn't sure about it since the characters were so young but I ended loving them and loved reading about them!! Please at least give Too Far a chance!

MY said...

Got this free from uni might give it a quick read :P

Jessica Sideways said...

Yeah, I had a different experience, in that I totally loved this book. Too Far proved to be very magickal for me.

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