The Fate of Fausto by Oliver Jeffers

The Fate of Fausto by Oliver Jeffers
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Genre: Middle Grade (8 – 12 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

There was once a man who believed he owned everything and set out to survey what was his.

“You are mine,” Fausto said to the flower, the sheep, and the mountain, and they all bowed before him. But they were not enough for Fausto, so he conquered a boat and set out to sea . . .

Combining bold art and powerful prose, and working in traditional lithographic printmaking techniques for the first time, world-renowned talent Oliver Jeffers has created a poignant modern-day fable to touch the hearts of adults and children alike.

Greed tarnishes everything.

Fausto was honestly one of the most unlikeable characters I’ve ever met, but that was a good thing. Fables often need these types of flat protagonists in order to make their points obvious, and he served his purpose well. The fact that he was consistently portrayed in the same way over and over again no matter how many chances he had to change only made me wonder what the narrator was planning to do with him. Surely they had something special up their sleeves!

Figuring out the most appropriate age range for this tale was tricky. Most picture books are written for young children, yet the themes discussed in this one were far too complex and abstract for little ones. Middle grade readers would be the youngest audience I’d expect to connect with the storyline, and even there I noticed some things that would probably be more meaningful for teen or even adult readers. It would have been helpful if the author had been clearer about who they were and weren’t writing this for.

The ending was unusual but perfectly suited for the plot. I loved the fact that Mr. Jeffers took so many risks here. They paid off beautifully and have made me incredibly curious to read more from him. It’s always wonderful to find storytellers who know how to surprise their audiences and push the envelopes of the genre or genres they write in.

I’d recommend The Fate of Fausto to older readers who love fables.

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