by Shirley Marr
This book defies every just about every red flag that pops up in YA literature. Are you cautious when trying out a brand new author? Do you sometimes wince when girls behave in classic “mean girl” fashion towards each other? Do you get sick of brand names being dropped into casual conversation? Well, you’ll find all of that and more in Shirley Marr’s debut novel. And the funny thing is, because it’s in the hands of a gifted author, it all works. Beautifully.
Within minutes of meeting Eliza Boans, you quickly realize that she’s a spoiled, murderous brat. She’s a privileged teenager living in the exclusive community of East Rivermoor, and she’s just confessed to a heinous crime in an interrogation room–but exhibits not a single shred of remorse. She’s far more concerned about returning to her pampered life in which she rules the roost of girls at her school, and where her absent mother indulges her with every luxury item she could possibly think of. Eliza is someone who could easily get away with murder…except that the story isn’t quite that simple.
Told in darkly humorous flashbacks as Eliza alternately charms her interrogator and frustrates him with half-truths, Fury is a fast-moving mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out why a young girl, even one with such an outwardly confident attitude, would defiantly take on such a serious charge. Fury is also a brilliant character study of a girl who has everything going for her on the surface, but whose arch, careless demeanor and sarcastic observations hide an enormously complicated history and hidden emotion.
I loved the fierce friendships–as well as the fierce rivalry–between Eliza and her friends. I loved the crack in Eliza’s armor when it comes to her friend Neil. I loved the many, many nods to Jane Austen. And above all, I loved the incomparable Eliza, who makes no apologies for her life or her attitude. Even when you discover the secrets seething beneath the glamorous surface of her life, she wastes no time on pity for herself. Nor for anyone else who doesn’t deserve it.
This is a smart, superbly well-written book that strikes the perfect tone in balancing serious subjects with dark humor and a near-perfect teen narrative. It’s a much better interpretation of the myth of the Greek Furies than Elizabeth Miles’ Fury, which also featured teenagers being punished for bad behavior, but that book doesn’t even come close to this one in terms of plotting, character development, humor, and emotion. It proves the point that a well-plotted story with depth can surpass all misgivings and shine brightly among all the other paranormal YA books with a beauty all its own.
I do wish there was a little more time with the characters after everything had been revealed, though you could chalk up some of that to the fact that I just didn’t want this book to end. It’s rare that a debut novel can knock your socks off like this–but anyone who spends time with Eliza will never forget her.
Fury is currently only available in Australia, but overseas publishers really need to snap up this author for other audiences. If you can’t wait, please visit an an Austrialian bookseller such as Dymocks online.
Aussie YA Challenge Update
My thanks go out to Missie over at The Unread Reader and Nic at Irresistible Reads for sending this along as part of the Aussie YA Tour! This is the seventh Aussie book I’ve read this year, including Mercy, Burn Bright, Saltwater Vampires, Saltwater Moons, Saving Francesca, The Piper’s Son, and it’s a pleasure to find such great books through their efforts and friendship.