Anna (_ocelott_) wrote in genrereviews,

Fury by Elizabeth Miles

Publisher: Simon Pulse, 2011
Genre: Horror
Sub-genre: Paranormal, YA
Rating: 2 pints of blood

I have to admit, I really do love this cover. Yes, it's arguably another cover with a pretty girl in a pretty dress, but for me that's totally overshadowed by the drama of that striking red hair splayed across, contrasting vividly against the black background and the pale skin and dress of the cover model. Swirling in a way that suggests movement, it's definitely something that catches my attention.

And then I discover this pretty cover is on a book that gives a modern twist to the mythological Furies! Trap sprung.

Em has been trying to hide her growing feelings for her best friend's boyfriend for awhile now, but it's only going to get harder now that her best friend is going away for the Christmas holidays, leaving Em alone with Zach for weeks.

On the other side of the tracks, Chase has been very careful to maintain his cool image despite being one of the poor kids at school. He's haunted by a dark secret, though, and if he doesn't play things exactly right it might be enough to undo years of balancing.

Danger lurks for both Em and Chase, though, because vengeance for harm done to others lurks in the town of Ascension in the form of three surreally beautiful women. Sometimes sorry just isn't enough...

I've listed Fury as horror because while it's not particularly dark in tone or subject matter, it follows the horror tropes much more than it does fantasy tropes. It's structured like a horror story, with the focus on the drama of Em and Chase's lives and the Furies treated mostly as an unknown and mysterious threat until the last third of the book.

The chapters alternate between Em's perspective and Chase's, and initially there's no connection between the two beyond them living in the same town. They don't have the same interests or much in the way of friends in common, but the similarity of their circumstances draws things together pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, in spite of the promising premise, Fury just fell flat for me. The story focuses much more on teenage melodrama than on the paranormal aspects, which isn't necessarily a problem in itself, but the paranormal aspects are what's being used to sell the book. What a reader brings to a book hugely colours the reading experience, and that includes expectations. But expectations aside, the Furies are both underused and poorly explained. By the time the book finished, I had more questions than answers. The Furies manifest as a trio of beautiful women who manipulate people and events to punish peoples' bad behaviour with their brand of justice, which is both harsh and unyielding. I liked that they were unrelenting in their vengeance, that trivial human things like guilt or an effort to restore the damage done didn't figure into the Furies' methods of punishment at all, making them colder and more alien. I wish, though, that more time had been spent on things like why they were in a small town in Maine in the first place or how they selected their victims. Shouldn't they have much better targets than a couple of small town teens? And how is it they focus on a girl who gets far too close to her best friend's boyfriend but leave said boyfriend alone? Most of what we hear about the Furies is strictly superficial, dwelling on their beauty and their unusual wardrobes, so any part of the book in which they directly feature reads as very repetitive.

Since the entire premise of the story involves teens who the Furies feel need to be punished for their misdeeds, this is a book aimed at older teens. There's plenty of underage drinking, including drinking and driving, and while the sexytimes aren't explicit, it's definitely in there. There are also a few slurs used (misogynistic and homophobic) and some bullying tactics. I don't believe any of this is out of place in a YA novel, since teens deal with this stuff on a daily basis, but parents (and especially parents of younger teens) may want to know about the content of the book before passing it on to their child. It might even serve to provide an opening for discussion.

Character wise, Em is pretty wishy washy for a heroine. She's constantly contradicting herself and making excuses, which frustrated me pretty quickly. Is it realistic? Yup, there are definitely people like that out there, and every single one of us has those moments from time to time. Is it fun to read an entire novel with that sort of person as a protagonist? Erm... not so much. Chase is just as superficial in his own way, although perhaps less fickle, more concerned with his status in the cool group at school than anything else. Neither of them were really characters I felt strongly enough about to root for, so when the Furies attempted to take their vengeance, I wasn't particularly invested. The uneven pacing (all the action happens in the last third of the book) didn't help matters, nor did the author's habit of describing important events after the fact rather than writing them out as a scene.

Long story short, Fury is another book with an amazing premise that suffers from lackluster execution. This is the first book in a projected trilogy, and while the cover to book two is just as striking as book one (at least in the paperback version), I don't think I'll be lured in again.

Fury is available in hardcover or trade paperback.
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Tags: 2 pints of blood, genre: horror, paranormal, theme of the month, ya

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