A sad week for anyone who ever sailed to the land of the wild things, visited the night kitchen, or went outside over there.
Thank you, Maurice. You’ll be missed.
Can you tell I’m excited about seeing the Avengers assemble? (Thor Odinson, how you doin?)
But seriously. Today, children, we are going to talk about a book that made me angry because it was not angry enough. The book: Fury by Elizabeth Miles. Yes, it’s another YA, but I’m of the Lev Grossman school when it comes to adults reading YA–in case you haven’t already guessed. Now’s not the time to debate the gazillion inarguable reasons why adults should dip their toes into the cool waters of YA lit, so I’ll just put on my placid cult leader smile and say in a dreamy but vaguely sinister voice, “Books are for everyone.” I mean, if I could read Jackie Collins when I was eleven, I sure as hell can read a few YA books now and then, amiright? (Sidebar: But eleven year olds really shouldn’t read Jackie Collins, okay? Mom, that was not cool. So not cool. Although it probably explains a lot, specifically my dream of one day becoming the high-powered, jet-setting, unscrupulous and ruthless ruler of a hotel empire, pursuing emotionally unavailable men with the same passion that I pour into seeking vengeance and restoring my mafioso father’s honour. Wait, was that TMI?)
Back to the book.
Synopsis time (which I feel requires a signature dance of some sort, perhaps with parachute pants): Gah. I don’t even want to do the synopsis dance for this book. Gag. Okay, here it goes:
Ascension is a small town in Maine, which I guess as one of those New England states is kind of spooky. Emily, a.k.a. Em, is totally psyched cos Christmas break is nigh, which means that with her besty bud Gabby out of town, Em, who is a smart, popular, really really nice (ugh) girl with the dancer’s body and budding poet awards to prove it, will finally be able to hit on Zach, Gabby’s boyfriend. But really, she’s such a nice, great, awesome girl! (EYE-ROLL.) Then some chick jumps off an overpass and even though she’s horribly injured and probably paralyzed for life, no one really cares, because I guess people jumping off overpasses happens on a semi-regular basis in Ascension? I don’t know. But hey, the girl wasn’t even popular, so it doesn’t really matter anyway. Oh, and there’s a subplot with a guy called Chase (seriously) and he falls for some mysterious redhead chick with the same disturbingly obsessive intensity of my school-girl crush on Orlando freakin Bloom (NB, I am suitably ashamed of this youthful crush). And come on, haven’t they seen South Park? The redheads, man. Even though we live in a post-Harry Potter world and any idiot would be able to see that Mysterious Redhead is clearly not from Kansas (or in this case, Maine), Chase and the idiotic teens of Ascension are just stupid enough that all of this forms the most meagre of plots and 370 pages. Oh, and that chick who jumped off the overpass? Turns out, it’s relevant. Three hundred pages later.
That was the spoileriest synopsis ever, but hey, I did you a favour. Up front: I did not like this book. First things first, Elizabeth Miles has stolen the title of my autobiography. Second–and this counts as a spoiler, too, so stop reading if you are a wuss about spoilers–even though this book is about the Furies (more on that in a sec) and that’s presumably what the author is referencing in the title, I still wanted more anger and rage and unholy freaking wrath from a book called Fury. Somebody, please, smash a glass. Put a fist through a wall. Spit venomous epithets at your enemy and curse her unborn children. And that’s just Sunday brunch at my house. Sheesh. This book is full of amateurs, man.
The protagonists are unlikable, flat, and in Em’s case, straight-up stupid. I hated the writing, which felt sparse, lifeless, and tedious. Pace-wise, this thing dragged on longer than The Tree of Life. I only finished it because my ears were ringing from the bizarre cluster-cuss of a concert I went to last night and I couldn’t sleep and Fury was the closest book to my bed. (Yann Tiersen at the Phoenix. It was weird.)
The story itself is both laughable and irritating. On the one hand, I couldn’t stop sniggering every time a ridiculous after-school TV show high-school trope popped up–the secretly promiscuous bookworm, the vapid but loyal cheerleader, the skeezy jock–but I was not cool with the slut-shaming in this book. Double standards are not okay, and if a lady wants to snog her besty bud’s loser boyfriend, she can. She’s a crappy friend and really bad at picking dudes to snog, but she is not a slut. Er, at least, not any more than the man-sluts are sluts for doing the same thing. Let’s just say everyone’s a slut. Or no one’s a slut. Or this is high school, so maybe we should all focus less on the snogging and more on the algebra and grammar and then maybe America wouldn’t be in the sorry state it is today.
This has become awkward. Also, I am Canadian, so I don’t really know or care what state America is in. Controversy!
Now it’s about to get harsh. I am, as you may know, a massive fantasy nerd. Urban fantasy is one of my favourite fantasy subgenres, so I felt very keenly the failure of this novel. The title should have indicated to any reader with a basic knowledge of Greek mythology that this novel is about the Furies, or Erinyes (thank you, wikipedia) who hunt down Orestes in Aeschylus’s Oresteia (thank you, Professor Boyne). SO WHY WAS THIS MADE OUT TO BE SOME HUGE SURPRISE??? Why? And why were the Furies so lame? And what are they doing in Maine? And why are they wasting their time torturing (very lamely, I might add) the high schoolers of this small town, with their petty slights and insignificant cruelties, when they could be out torturing the people who really deserve it? (Like my step-father, ha ha. No, seriously. He deserves it.)
This unhappy marriage of the mundane and the magical is what rankled most about this book. It was a failure as an urban fantasy, and a poor piece of writing in terms of plot, characters, and language.
But it’s okay. Without shite YA novels, we’d have no way of recognizing the stellar ones, right? How’s that for zen.
Best line: “Okay.” JD grinned. “That sounded less creepy in my head.” (p. 96). Ah, JD. You were the only character I liked, and let’s face it, as the eccentric outcast, you were the coolest one of all. You will grow up to become a witty, fearless musical genius, because even though this was never discussed in the novel, I’m 93% sure that you play guitar and sing in a husky voice that is like warm butterscotch for the ears. Ahem. And also, you’re right. Things always sound less creepy in one’s head. Just ask the burly Georgian I recently scared off. He could not handle my Gollum/Sméagol impersonations. Ah, l’amour voué. It was not meant to be.
Rating: One creepy ginger kid out of five. (Oh,I kid. I love the gingers.) I’d give it zero, because it’s that kind of day, but I will grudgingly give Miles credit for the physical act of writing a book, which is something I seem to be unable to accomplish myself (I blame you, internet). So for simply sitting down every day until she had 370 pages of drivel to email to her soulless, avaricious publisher, I commend the author. Er, good for you, I suppose. Better luck next time?
P.S. I just googled this book and found out that Fury is apparently the first in a trilogy. Of course it is. It’s YA. Milk that cow, Simon & Schuster. This new factoid changes absolutely nothing about my review. Also, there’s nothing on my copy of the book indicating it’s part of a trilogy and so I should therefore expect an excruciatingly slow, utimately unresolved plotline. What the what?