Individual reviews are below, but this is an incredibly strong and enjoyable collection. The best thing about it is the individual flavour that even sIndividual reviews are below, but this is an incredibly strong and enjoyable collection. The best thing about it is the individual flavour that even stories I panned - like Paige's The Dark... - or were underwhelmed by - Jay Kristoff's Sleepless - have their own distinct atmosphere. Scrolling through the list, I can remember every story vividly, and so I think it richly deserves the solid 4 stars overall.
THE BIRDS OF AZALEA STREET by Nova Ren Suma 4.5 stars
i know I should love Nova Ren Suma. She writes the kind of books that I know should be exactly calibrated to my tastes - eerie, creepy, female-driven, suspense novels. Yet, despite my appreciation of all things sisterly and sinister, we've never quite agreed on what constitutes plot, as I personally don't think atmosphere is enough to sustain a novel. Nevertheless, this has forced me to concede quite how masterfully talented she is. Since I finished it twenty minutes ago, I have been plagued by delicious shivers ever since. It's an ominous and incredibly well-written tale about three girls against a predatory neighbour. The mounting sense of dread has stayed with me.
I had to deduct a half-star because I personally found the ending underwhelming, simultaneously under-explained but too on-the-nose. It was done in the best horror movie tradition, but even so, as Suma has such a masterful way with imagery and dialogue, something more definitive and original would've gone across better with me, but this is personal, and shouldn't detract from how chilling and genuinely creepy this short was. To illustrate, I'll leave you with a couple of my favourite lines:
Paisley told us she could sense the hunger coming off him, like she was plump and roasting and he hadn't eaten for a week.
It was the saddest thing I've seen all year, even worse than the time Miranda from school showed us her suicide notes and asked us to pick the best-written one so she could impress her dad.
IN A FOREST, DARK AND DEEP by Carrie Ryan 2.5 stars
When I read before that this was based on Alice in Wonderland, I steeled myself. There are so many variations on Alice that I seriously doubted the need for another, especially when there are so many other things that could've inspired a story; did we really need a version of something which is essentially middle-grade horror? Obviously Ryan's writing suffered in comparison to the amazing Nova Ren Suma, but it was decent enough, with some genuine scares and jolts, and some creepy images. However, the structure was just far too disjointed. I felt like I was never 'getting' it, but I also couldn't really be bothered to flip back and clarify anything. There was also a large cast and fairly complicated story for such a short piece, but none of them ever grabbed or interested me; they felt flat and dull.
EMMELINE by Cat Winters 2 stars
Not really scary like the first and second, more sad and a little unsettling than really disturbing. It's hard to mess up World War creepfests, as the horror pretty much writes itself, but Winters is clearly a real pro: there's Lillian Gish, burning magazines, and a lot of nice period details, including a pitch-perfect mid-century tone of voice from both Emmeline and the mysterious American soldier who appears in her bombed-out home. However, the story isn't really distinctive and, in contrast to Carrie Ryan's story, it seems a little too long for the idea as is. Still, it gets major props for not ending as I was sure it would, but I can't really rate it any higher because, unlike Nova Ren Suma's, it just sort of fell off my radar after I finished it. It felt like a throwback, and not always in a good way - so built on other aesthetics that it didn't feel like there was an individual voice in there.
VERSE CHORUS VERSE by Leigh Bardugo 5 stars
FUCK. This is what I'm talking about. It's not without its problems, as a story - with the particular use of one very overused plot point, please no more - but what I loved the most about it was that, after all my bitching and moaning about how ambiguity felt like a cop-out, here was a story that pitches its own ambiguity exactly right. I didn't quite "get" it, but there was so much here to chew on and think about. Also, there was something so crystallising about what I love in YA horror about how Bardugo pitched the setting - a rehab joint where a teen singer, struggling with addiction, is forced to go, especially in the notion of being both on your own and terrifyingly at the mercy of other people. I felt like Bardugo's little talking doll, how I shivered at the nurse's teeth, or Louise assuring Jaycee that "no-one gets over that fence," among many other moments. It's terrifying, but with sympathetic, believable, and incredibly interesting characters at its centre, and so many interesting points swirling around its premise to unpick.
I particularly loved the mother-daughter relationship, even though I have no idea where it went on that last page. I can only say that I loved it nonetheless. "In that minute, Kara had hated Jaycee. She'd understood that she would always be standing in that parking lot. No matter how many tickets they sold, or how many charities they gave to, they'd always be trash."
HIDE AND SEEK by Megan Shepard 4.5 stars
What this one lacks in character development, it makes up for threefold in visceral thrills and excitement. I'm not sure if I would call this horror - it certainly draws on ideas and scenes we would think of as being horror, it has a particular novel spin on fear - I was never really afraid when Annie raced through her North Carolina town looking for a way to cheat death, but I was afraid for her, of the consequences if she failed, because I desperately didn't want that to happen. The twist involving her friend, Suze, and the final challenge made me nearly yelp out a "Hail Mary" for brave Annie at the near end of her journey. I genuinely raced to the end, gasping for breath and, in a genre that always seems so intent on bleakness and misery, it was simply delightful, and surprisingly emotional, to read one that tacitly acknowledges the resilience, bravery, and strength of spirits both human and inhuman. "Death is not a person. Death cannot be reasoned with. As life, as in death, nothing is fair."
THE DARK, THE SCARY PARTS AND ALL by Danielle Page 1.5 stars
This, strangely, was the one I was most anticipating, as my favourite horror film of all time is Rosemary's Baby, one of the very few film adaptations that are better than the books. The best part of this novel is the ingenious title. Other than that - seriously, I am BAFFLED. To call this an archetypal YA romance, especially circa 2010-2011, would be almost a joke because it's so much like every single trope from paranormal romance I have ever read, almost to parodic levels. I actually spent most of the story hoping that it would turn out to be some great self-aware joke, that Marnie had read too many Twilight knockoffs and thus felt compelled to brag about how much better she was than all the other stereotypical mean girls because she was the cleverest girl in class, compare her half-baked romance with the unbelievably handsome, chivalrous rich guy to Heathcliff (of course!), and he was also fulfilling her tweeny fantasies when he told her that she wasn't like other girls because she read books (oh my god!) except he was - gasp! - the Devil. If that's what Paige was going for, the other shoe never dropped.
It remained nonsensical. What could've been an atmospheric and intensely creepy YA horror about a girl tapping into the Devil within, intermingled with some Satanic kissing - don't judge me, okay - stayed so silly and stupid that I rolled my eyes continuously throughout it. Page's writing isn't bad so I kept desperately hoping she would elevate it, but nothing ever did. The mean girls are completely ripped from, well, Mean Girls, complete with some rather half-assed chanting and stupid nicknames. Whenever she mentioned Damian Thorne's special eyes, or his sense of intense empathy - hey, for the Devil's only son, he isn't all bad - I somewhere between shuddered and cringed, but not in the horror way. The unravelling of the plot was absurd at best, with absolutely no creep or surprise factor; it felt like the most routine plodding through what could've been an incredibly creepy plot, all the set pieces were moronic. I have never seen pentagrams or self-inflicted suicide look dumber. This short was so unoriginal that they literally had to borrow mutilated Barbie dolls from another murderous couple, Heathers.
There was one really good line, though: "But pretty wasn't always symmetry and flawless skin. Pretty was sometimes a verb. And Evelyn prettied better than anyone."
THE FLICKER, THE FINGERS, THE BEAT, THE SIGH by April Genevieve Tucholke 3.5 stars
Highly unoriginal and really quite sparse, I expected more from this one, simply because there's not much of a plot. Of all the others that have been mostly 'inspired' by their "sources," this one pretty much just takes the same idea - from "I Know What You Did Last Summer" - and repeats it, with a little bit of the climax of "Carrie" - the other inspiration, which gets bizarrely name checked in the beginning, in an unrelated incident - thrown in. It's pretty good, and has some truly creepy moments, especially during the "what happened next" epilogue but this, again, felt much shorter than some of the others, as it was basically one not-very-fresh idea at the centre. Still, it's a good piece of B-movie fun, and we must that April Genevieve Tucholke, our queen, for making this collection possible. Eerie and with a certain type of nice bluntness, if uninspired.
FAT GIRL WITH A KNIFE by Jonathan Maberry 3 stars
This one felt like the classic 3-star read. While the vast majority of these little stories I've rated in the region of 2-3 stars were more like bumpy experiences - some great moments, some less stellar moments - this is one of those that just feels straight-up 3 stars. It potters along at a perfectly fine pace: starting tense and suspenseful, before finally wrapping up in a satisfactory, if predictable, manner. Dahlia is an interesting character, but I must note something that slightly annoyed me about this story and the last. In both, it felt like the "stimulus" had been somewhat misused. Yes, I know, these authors owe me nothing but, in contrast to, say, the Hitchcock mashup that Nova Ren Suma presented first, I found it not really stretching the phenomenal thing connecting these stories: the genius idea of using different areas of horror literature as inspiration for short stories of all kinds, when it felt like Maberry, obviously a zombie fanatic judging by his other books, basically picked the two stimuli he knew best (Zombieland and Night of the Living Dead), and made a short story out of it. That's fine, but it lacked the truly creative punch of many of these tales.
With all that said, there's a reason why the idea of the zombie apocalypse in a high school is so absolutely creepy and terrifying, and Maberry taps into that well. Although I loved the very last scene, I did find it somewhat contrary in comparison to what we know about Dahlia. Still: "Yeah. She was smiling as she said that." Shivers ran down my spine.
SLEEPLESS by Jay Kristoff 3.5 stars
When I realised this was a horror short about online relationships, I rubbed my hands together in glee (typo'd as flee the first time, that sounds about right for a horror collection). Speaking from personal experience, there's something so claustrophobic, important, and innately mysterious about online relationships that I couldn't wait to see Kristoff use. When I heard that there were several mind-boggling twists, I got even more excited. HOWEVER - I would seriously advise anyone who reads on Kindle not to click forwards on this story in particular. You will get the first source inspiration for this pretty easily, as it's one of those pop-culture must-knows that have been referenced and remade all over the place, but the second area of source inspiration is basically a total spoiler. I alternated between clicking and waiting till the end to find out, and I wish I'd waited for this one.
So, yeah, I got the twist, but luckily there is another - which, sadly, I also got, thanks to a massive hint that Krisotff drops early and pretty heavily. Though it does rip off the big twist from the big film it's based on, Kristoff livens things up with multiple twists, all of which, to his credit, fit together seamlessly but this is a story that relies, sadly, on its surprise value for the enjoyment factor. Once I knew everything, it felt flatter and dumber, like I was just waiting to get there. Also, one of the twists bothered me because I felt like it took me out of the premise of the anthology, and what it was "supposed" to be - that's as clear as I can be without plot spoilers. Don't get me wrong, it's a well-written and atmospheric short story, and I spent most of the time hoping I was wrong about it, but I wasn't. Also, do kids still talk in the most abbreviated slang? I get they're supposed to be young, but it hurt my eyes and, from my brief frequenting of teen-dominated web spaces, like tumblr, kids now only abbreviate very infrequently, preferring full sentences. There was quite a lot of it and it was annoying and even, dare I say, unrealistic.
"Sometimes I wonder if the right girl is out there. Sometimes I wonder if Momma isn't right about all of them."
M by Stephen Bachmann 2.5 stars
Well, that was...strange. I definitely didn't think it was horror, to be honest. It seemed to be essentially an Agatha Christie mystery, not that there's anything wrong with that. There was the potential for creepiness and sometimes there was, such as Misha marking the maybe-murderer with ink, but, given it was in third-person, it seemed almost too focused on Misha. I liked the relationship that developed between Misha and Kerstin, the servant girl who helped her in her expedition but, for such a short story, too much of it felt like it was focused on Misha sitting down not doing very much, for its intensely abbreviated length. There were creepy moments, especially with the children, but much of it felt random and strange. Naturally, for a densely-populated short where only two characters really lead, the "revelation" meant it so I couldn't care less, as I'm pretty sure we never saw the doer before. Bachmann has a great eye for dialogue, though, and I did enjoy this one - I think it mostly threw me off balance because it just didn't seem like a horror story. Also, as the much more common way to spell the servant's name is Kirsten here in England, where the book is set, it kept giving me cross-eyes looking at it.
"That sounded nice. Being a secret. 'It's not like that at all,' Misha said. 'It's miserable here.'
'Isn't it everywhere,' Kerstin said matter-of-factly.
THE GIRL WITHOUT A FACE by Marie Lu 4.5 stars
I'm glad I waited to review this one. I actually read it almost a week ago, but kept starting the review and not being happy with it. Clearly something wanted me to just wait. I was split between a fairly underwhelmed 3-3.5 stars, as I'd been so hyped for this and found it, well, rather mediocre in terms of plotting. It was nicely written, but the elements just felt too archetypal. It didn't help that this one, like the aforementioned short, also featured a Harvard-admitted character attempting to cover up a crime they'd committed. That's not even factoring in the two "source" materials, neither of which I've seen. I've never read anything by Lu because her usual stuff (dystopian/fantasy about chosen ones etc) are very much not my thing, but this one came to me quite hyped, and I hoped for something a little, well, fresher.
Aided by a couple of claustrophobic closet dreams, I reread this one not once but twice, and realised what kept me thinking. While I deduct a half-star for failing to make me shiver and wonder like the eerie newness of Leigh Bardugo's teen rehab did, or gasp and race like Megan Shepherd's Hide and Seek (i.e. the enjoyment factor of feeling like you're encountering originality or something truly new), it actually doesn't really matter how original a short story is, because it's just freaking good. Lu conjured up the sense of oppression in private school student Richard's everyday life as he begins to realise that someone is watching him from the closet in his new house, and made me develop very complicated feelings towards Richard even in a very short and quite elusive short: wanting him to get away from the ghost's power while not being sure if he really deserved it. The ending is duly haunting and creepy.
She looked different somehow. Did she always have light hair? Why did Richard remember that she was supposed to be a brunette?
THE GIRL WHO DREAMED OF SNOW by McCormick Templeman 3 stars
The highest rating I can give to a story I had to skim. This one has serious potential - the idea is creepy and the setting is unique and gave me the appropriate chilly feeling, both metaphorically and literally, because it's set somewhere very cold. The writing is good and, when Templeman is on, this story is really on. However, it felt, like Carrie Ryan's story from earlier in the collection, needlessly complicated and convoluted. I will admit that I almost felt cross-eyed from all the changes of perspective that just seemed to muddy a fairly simple basic idea. I wanted to love it and got close a couple of times, as this story throws in some of my favourite things - a vivid setting and human sacrifice (to clarify: I don't love human sacrifice, but feeling compelled to do it in a horror story is one of my favourite creepy tropes). The ending is pitch perfect, and there are serious scenes which rival to be the best in the collection, but the overall feel of the story is one of too long and too confusing, not helped by the fact that it just didn't grab me. Sorry.
"All he saw was his daughter's smile. All he saw was the gift of salvation, born of the sacred dream of snow."
STITCHES by A.G. Howard 4 stars
AHHHH!!! Arguably the most traditionally scary story in the collection, this is so gory, bloody, and take-no-prisoners that I read it wincing. Honestly. I flinched every time I turned the page in my Kindle, worrying what was going to come next. Sad though it is, that great recommendation is also what made me dock it a half-star. It's an inspired short story, with real depth behind it, but it's also so nasty and unrestrained that I could not enjoy it at all. I'm actually trying to push this idea back into the recesses of my mind and forget about it, that's how much the repeated descriptions of mutilations and amputations freaked me out. Good, but only for certain tastes.
"Your family is at peace now. I hope at last we can have all the pieces we deserve."
ON THE I-5 by Kendare Blake 2 stars
Sorry. This one is just fine to me, not helped by being last in the collection. It was just a little too quiet and tropey to really make its mark, and knowing that Blake has a serious horror background, I had high expectations. Despite the GR character limit, I'm still disappointed I don't have more to say about this one....more
(OT: did you guys notice that I finished this literally 3 years to the day that I first added it to my to-read shelf? Synchronicity.)
She's still the Q(OT: did you guys notice that I finished this literally 3 years to the day that I first added it to my to-read shelf? Synchronicity.)
She's still the Queen of Contemporary YA, okay.
You may say the buzz kind of went against this one; I struggle with any book that comes to me with a label like Important. It just seems displacing to me, in that it seems like a full stop. Also, really unpopular opinion, so please don't everybody scream at me and/or hunt me down and kill me:
I didn't really think this book engaged with rape culture in a way I hadn't seen before.
Don't get me wrong. Rape culture is toxic and real. I read this novel over a week where Emma Sulkowicz was basically slandered by a national blog for carrying a mattress around Columbia, despite the fact that she never publicly named her rapist. So, for me, this kind of hit at a bad moment, in that I felt Sulkowicz's story really hit what is painful and wrong about rape culture - the implication of the victim. The notion that, if you're the victim of a (sexual) crime, and you are not a perfect angel of light and goodness, you're obviously a manipulating, lying shrew. Stories like this have become more and more common, and honestly, I kind of felt like Courtney Summers was going for the 'easy' buttons as far as rape is concerned. Yes, Romy is isolated, she's mistreated, and she's disbelieved. But, for a novel that came with such buzzy promise of being such a vicious look at what it is to be a sexual assault survivor, I was left disappointed. Too much of what is in here felt familiar, and not in a cringing "welcome to society" way. There are just far too many familiar elements - the powerful boy, the well-known family, the sort of half-assed refusal to believe the girl.
Despite Summers' interesting - if slightly superficial - take on internalised and institutionalised misogyny, sometimes this book really did feel like it could have been any one of the many YA novels about outsider girls who are raped by powerful and important boys. Now, that is an important subject, and I really, really don't want to upset or insult any survivors who have responded to this book, but it started off really pulsing one of my nerve endings - the message that Romy sent to Penny about Kellan prior to being raped by him - but quickly backed off for plainer, safer ground. She briefly dances with the idea of social media as part of Romy's drunken rage, and the twitter segments were very interesting and eerie looks at modern society, but they were all too short and too shallow. There, that's two words I never thought I'd write about a Courtney Summers novel.
Onto my next big problem with this novel, then we can get onto the good:
Hands up who reads a Courtney Summers novel for the plot.
That's not to say that her plots are bad. It's just that them, by themselves, are not frequently what excites me to read on. A girl mourning her dead father? Sorry, I've read 60,000 of those books. A girl being bullied by the mean girls she used to call friends? Read that, too. A girl who's gone off the rails after a nonspecific but terrible incident? Read that, too. This is not meant to insult Courtney Summers - what makes her The One for me is her writing. She is someone who just nails everything that is sharp, and painful, and brilliant about contemporary YA. She has the voice, she has the conversation, she has the atmosphere. It's become something of an Internet-review cliche to say that she made me 'feel,' but, fuck, okay, Courtney Summers makes me feel every damn time. She writes and I read, and sometimes it feels like she's essentially driven me into a wall, but it somehow manages to be addictive and amazing amid the pain and the "oh no god why"s.
But, when I look back on her books, I admit that the plot is one element I'm less keen to throw platitudes at. The narrow scope of Cracked Up To Be's ending hurt it for me. Some Girls Are couldn't think of a way to end without a deus ex machina. Fall For Anything kind of fizzles out. But, ultimately, it doesn't matter, because Courtney Summers has all the other cards. I read for her characters. I read because I am fucking desperate for things to turn out well for them.
I felt that with Romy. I really did. I personally thought she reacted believably and her voice was just agonising. The problem is that All The Rage is literally all plot. It's one of the most bizarrely plot-filled of Courtney Summers' novels; there's dual-timeline, there's mystery, there's suspense...and not one element of it came off for me.
Penny, the girl who goes missing after Romy gets drunk and loses it, is a total nonentity. No character development whatsoever. Romy's school also feels like such a...non-place. Some Girls Are had one of the best depictions of a mean girl clique that actually felt like something that could happen in a real school, in that they were mostly being vicious and evil to each other. All The Rage wants to be a searing depiction of rape culture and isolation, but it's seriously let down by Summers' disinterest in developing any of the other teen characters except for Romy and Leon, the obligatory good guy. Rape culture is terrifying because of the way it can get inside your head, too. A fantastic feminist I know once told me that the 'real problem' with misogyny was women who feared/hated men and developed reactionary views towards them, not (he explicitly said this) a justice system that refused to protect women and, you know, men raping/killing women. I mean, sheesh. Too much of this felt binary and unoriginal.
So, as for all of Romy's supporting characters, I can vaguely remember their names and not one damn thing else about them. However, years after I finished Some Girls Are, the memory of toxic, sociopathic Anna, monstrous, victimised Kara, angry Michael, and even minor characters like Liz and Bruce are stuck with me like glue. They felt like real people with real dynamics. All The Rage is all Romy, and literally nobody else. I wish I was exaggerating. Not one element of the plot development of Penny's disappearance comes off, because they're all such nothings. Could anyone tell me anything about Tina or Penny? Anything? The only supporting character that felt like there was any feeling behind it was Aleks. I read the entire thing, and I have literally no idea if we saw the person who did...the thing that happened beforehand. All the Rage is a lot of strong feeling, but it's not really well-developed or considered beyond that. The revelations are pretty shoddy and uninspired, frankly, and since nobody's friendships were really well-developed enough, I just didn't care. I know how much Courtney Summers cares, and I felt it with Romy, but far too much of what I've described above just felt...phoned in to me. Characters thin as cardboard and plot development that moved nowhere except the most predictable and unsurprising routes.
Now, onto the great stuff.
This is Courtney Summers' best written book. How, dear reader? Let me count the ways:
Then she's better off dead.
I can see in her eyes that even if she thinks Penny deserves to be found, she doesn't think Penny deserves to be looked for by us.
I make sure to tell her I love her because, more and more, I'm thinking about the things I say before I leave.
I hope it's not a girl.
I want you to look at me.
What makes this brilliant, is that so much of it doesn't sound all that impressive out of context. It's not one of those purple prose novels where you can pretty much feel the author breathing down your neck, telling you to CRY. In context, it's phenomenal - sharp and soft and intense and real. Some of it actually made me say 'ouch' out loud, that's how great it is.
Bizarrely enough, for all the points I've listed above, this also has Courtney Summers' best adult characters by far. Todd is naturally a reader's favourite, Romy's stepdad (or maybe just her mum's boyfriend? I'm unsure) who just radiates warmth and love, and parallels with her storyline in such a fascinating way, but I also loved Romy's mum. Courtney Summers has long indulged in that YA writer's cliche of having the parents busy, completely absent, just nondescript paper dolls who seem to get like one scene a book, if they're lucky. Despite the subject matter of Fall For Anything, this felt like Summers' first book where she actually put deep, intense thought into how the adults in her books would interact versus their teenage kids, and it works so perfectly.
I also thought Helen was a potentially incredibly interesting character due to the little bit of backstory she shared with Romy. I mean, as a feminist, I've got to say, that's one of those questions that sticks with me. The feminist liberal left (of which I generally count myself a proud member), are very fond of the...blaming people for only siding with the victim when it's convenient. But there's an excellent, complex point to be made there. Of course, it's true, but at what price do you believe your own son guilty of a thing like that? How do you cope? How does a mother do it?
Romy was great. I mean, really wonderful. Shame she hadn't operated in such a vacuum. This also felt like Courtney Summers' most 'real' novel in a way. Although her writing was really on top form, there seemed to be less smartness and more...intelligence, consciousness of Romy coming from a lower-class background, of Romy's history, of the town's history, Romy's job, Caro and Ava in relation to Romy and Leo, and all the other little tricky things that I didn't realise I was missing from her novels until she included them. Summers really tapped into that in a way that felt real.
I was disappointed - but I think I was mostly disappointed by the hype. Courtney Summers' best writing, but not her best book - which is to say, still a great read, if a flawed one....more
There are a lot of things to love about Shirley Marr's "Fury", but top of the list has to be, in my mind -- guts.
Not just because "Fury" is edgy. It iThere are a lot of things to love about Shirley Marr's "Fury", but top of the list has to be, in my mind -- guts.
Not just because "Fury" is edgy. It is, but when I say 'guts', there's more to it than just the dark, nasty undercurrent than runs under the twisty, lovely plotting and sucker-punch scenes.
But, when I say guts, I'm talking mostly about the characters. One character is top of that list, Eliza Boans, the fierce and fantastic heroine of "Fury." I always find it hard when authors try to portray strength; most of them use more telling than showing. It's really not easy to do, but Marr makes it look so, so easy.
That's the thing that there is to love most about Eliza: her guts. (I know, how many times can I use that word in this sentence? We should play a drinking game.) I almost wrote 'courage' or just 'strength', but there is much more to Eliza than just 'courage.' Eliza is a fearless yet terrified main character that I just love for how much goddamn fight she has in her. This is one of those books that really earned its title (unlike a certain other book with this name...) in that, yes, I felt the fury. It coursed through every page of the story, really propelling the acts forwards. It almost seemed to bleed from the book. It almost feels too easy to dismiss Eliza as One Angry Girl, because, no, fury forced most of this story forwards in the most terrifying train-crash way, and I loved every word of it.
Remember my rant about the other Fury, about how it was everything to despise in YA literature as it was a shallow, underdeveloped, unlikeable and paper-thin story based on an interesting premise?
This "Fury" is nothing like that. What I love most about "Fury" is that it treats its audience with respect and depth. "Fury" is chock-full of enjoyable references, from Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, mythology (especially Greek mythology) and tragedy. It's so fresh and clever, but never overly clever or pretentious. Just as I was rolling my eyes, thinking, "Oh my God, poor little Eliza, suffering through her rich white girl life in uber-luxurious Australia", she would turn around and dose me with her own acidic wit and I would feel stumped again. Shirley Marr knows all the tricks.
*coughs* *clears throat* (Excuse me. This reviewer is engaging rabid feminist mode. She will return to normal in several lines.)
And, yes, something else to love about "Fury": it's about feminism. Not in the big, important, chest-bashing Margaret Atwood way, but in a way that really cut into me as a reader. It's about what it's like to be a friend and a young woman in this crapsaccharine Australian furniture store, when you get rid of all the petty rivalry and bullshit, Eliza tells us this without ever sugar coating or overstating it. I can see you all giving me squinty eyes - sure, murder, selfishness, narcissism, designer labels and mean girls, Beth, it sounds sooooooo feminist. But there is a satirical beauty to how Marr deals with what might seem like a hackneyed plot. Do not underestimate Eliza Boans. Or more to the point: underestimate Eliza Boans at your peril. The eventual murder scene is one of the best scenes I've ever read, simply for the pure, unadulterated and stomach-churning viciousness that underlines it all. All these mean girls have deep and dark and real friendships, and there is a black heart that throbs at the centre of "Fury."
But mostly important, just in case I've made this book sound so dry and ohmygodwon'tyoujustshutupaboutsociologyalready? - it's incredibly fun. Reading "Fury" made me feel like a lot of YA has been hampered by clichés and expectations and won't somebody think of the children?!. It's just off the hook, with originality, wit and wildness, brilliant mythology gags (like such outlandish but somehow-it-works scene where the characters don masks, old-fashioned dresses and make like the original Furies) and a glittery surface of dresses, money and ass-kicking that gives the seriousness of the themes real fun and freshness. Particularly the amazing ending, which made Eliza's kickass mother sharpen into focus as one of my favourite secondary characters ever and their final scene together was just amazing. I particularly liked the idea that true judgement had perhaps even eluded the characters. "Fury" isn't about learning a lesson. It's about the emotion that gives the book its title - and everything else is up to the characters. ...more
I'm happy to get any kind of Courtney Summers (...wow, that sounded less weird in my head), but a zombie/apocalypse novel? Despite knowing that SummerI'm happy to get any kind of Courtney Summers (...wow, that sounded less weird in my head), but a zombie/apocalypse novel? Despite knowing that Summers has a thing about the zombie apocalypse, I'm really surprised to see that this is a novel about one. Shocked, but hopefully in a good way....more
An amazing book. Hilarious and sweet. Loved all the characters. LOVED the Australian setting too, and inspired me to pick up some more Australia-set bAn amazing book. Hilarious and sweet. Loved all the characters. LOVED the Australian setting too, and inspired me to pick up some more Australia-set books.
After-the-fact thoughts on this book --
When I think about this book, I want to: 1) Cry -- because I can't re-experience the beauty/magic/charm of it all as though it was the first time. 2) Hug ALL the characters. 3) Re-read it. The whole thing....more