By Elizabeth Miles
The pitch for this book is fabulous, and it’s easy to see why it got the green light: a group of beautiful girls, loosely based on the Greek Furies, punishes teenagers for their indiscretions. Add to that an insanely gorgeous cover using a model with glorious red hair in a flowing dress, and most people are going to be irresistibly drawn to it. I know I was. Even now when I look at this beautiful girl on the cover, I want so badly to forgive her for her toxic contents. But I can’t do it, my lovely girl. I just can’t.
The marketing package is actually very misleading. From the synopsis and cover art, I expected a fairly typical paranormal YA novel, but what’s inside is actually much closer to horror-lite. Emily and Chase are both doing naughty, naughty things during winter break, and most of the book is one drawn-out example after the other of all the dirty little things that kids can get up to. Emily’s lusting after her best friend’s boyfriend Zach. Chase is constantly looking for his next hook-up and may have been involved in the death of a girl last year. Pretty much all the teens in this town have some sort of sin to atone for, with the exception of the near-saintly, handy-car-service-provider J.D.
The Furies themselves are mostly just…pretty. Seriously, there is more time spent on descriptions of their physical beauty and their clothes and the red orchids they leave behind than on any real attempt to teach anyone a lesson. Because their lessons mostly involve luring people to their deaths, which isn’t really helpful to anyone. Sure, the women in the original myths meted out death like candy, but they were also monstrously ugly and their stories were really short. If you’re going to expect us to sit through several hundred pages of relentless pursuit and punishment, there has to be some sort of sympathetic quality in the main characters or some sort of redemption or justice in their deaths. And while it’s true that nearly every boy in this book is a jerk and nearly every girl acts like a bitch (at least at some point) and the things these kids do are despicable, none of them are things they should be killed for.
The writing is inexpert (most of the back story and many events are just told, not shown), the dialogue is uninspired, the story is pretty sketchy and not very well structured, the characters are one-dimensional and mostly there to drive the plot, and the whole set-up just does not work. Why aren’t these girls going after kids who have abused animals or pushed someone down the stairs or something like that? Because those scenarios aren’t that sexy, that’s why. This book is much more interested in exploring cheap, tawdry tricks and melodramatic or titillating scenarios including: (SPOILERS BELOW)
* A boy who casually cruises for more hook-ups, timing his appearance at an event so girls have had enough time to get drunk so it helps him score
* A girl who makes out with her best friend’s boyfriend, and is caught with her top and bra off (fresh from a shopping trip to Victoria’s Secret, of course) by a fellow classmate
* Words like “cock-block” and “slut” casually thrown around
* Drunk driving and texting
* Numerous near-death events
* Girls throwing coffee in the faces of other girls
* A boy gets completely naked with a girl, who snaps photos of him and later plasters them all over school.
There is scene after scene of public humiliation, constant drinking, and disgusting behavior all around. I also despise the use of the word “faggot” for the sake of fluff entertainment, even if the people using it clearly aren’t supposed to be.
There is a marginally interesting event towards the end which is clearly the set-up for the next book, but overall, this first installment in the series has very little to recommend it. The only time I’ve ever felt as turned off by the events in a book or questioning of its redemptive value is when I went through the equally off-putting House of Night series, although *grits teeth* even that paranormal set-up was complex compared to this one.
I’m sure that like House of Night, this series is going to have its share of fans, however. I personally found Fury to be nothing short of infuriating.
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Rated 1.5 out of 5 stars
30-Second Synopsis: A horror-lite novel disguised as paranormal fantasy, this story is short on logic and character development and wallows in one tawdry scenario after the next. An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.