After reading three hundred pages of agony inducing melodrama, I found myself repeatedly asking, “But why?” Three hundred pages of a mund...moreSPOILER ALERT
After reading three hundred pages of agony inducing melodrama, I found myself repeatedly asking, “But why?” Three hundred pages of a mundane story should have provided sufficient, satisfying answers for my question and then some, but it seems as though the author was preoccupied with the promise of a trilogy. Regardless of my theorising, the fact of the matter remains that there were some overarching questions left unanswered (which is really quite unacceptable), and thus led me to my conviction that Elizabeth Miles desperately needs to rewrite her novel, Fury.
Whilst the initial premise of this book was interesting – mythology meets the modern teen world – Fury ultimately read like a sketchy first draft begging for a decent editor. The Furies, whose presence was required to punish the transgressions of fickle teenagers, was underwhelming as a result of going vastly unexplored. There was no tangible substantiation as to why exactly the Furies were hunting down these pseudo-sinning boys and girls and meting out unbefitting punishments for the crimes that had been committed. Emily almost had sex with her best friend’s boyfriend – yes, truly a tragedy, but how is this case of almost adultery a crime that requires death as punishment? A better question: why were the Furies really even targeting Emily? “Because cheating is bad” is hardly a satisfactory answer. If that were really the reason behind pursuing Emily, then logically it should follow that the Furies target Zach for committing the same “crime”, and yet he escapes unscathed. Furthermore, surely there are better times to occupy the wrath of the Furies? None of these staggeringly important questions central to the plot are actually answered properly. As a consequence, the element of believability (which is a necessity for any work of fiction), ceases to exist in Fury, thereby diminishing the story’s overall value.
Show, don’t tell. Unfortunately for the overall quality of Fury, Elizabeth Miles failed to utilise this in her story. The actual storytelling aspect is clunky and awkward. Instead of being mellifluously woven into the prose, the plot’s focus points are presented as bland statements and details that perhaps would have fared better in the hands of a master. My perception of the relationship between JD and Emily was at best, a manipulative friendship – Emily uses JD as a chauffeur to popular parties, and JD uses Emily to feel validated. I never did expect a romantic tension to blossom, simply because those seeds weren’t sewn. Sharing silly French phrases and a string between windows is not a precursor to falling in love. The statement, “Em was in love with JD”, almost has a paranoid feel to it, as though the author isn’t sure whether this is obvious to the audience so she writes it explicitly, just in case. This does not work in Miles’ favour – the ignorance toward showing the audience something implicitly only goes to show how inexpert the writing is, and further decreases the quality of Fury.
Elizabeth Miles writes herself into a corner when it concerns the Furies – the story can’t progress if there is no force or character to challenge their presence, and what is the likelihood of the protagonist being able to come to the conclusion that the presence haunting her must of course be a mythological creation? How to solve this? Meet Drea Feiffer, also known as Fury’s deus ex machina. As Emily crashes her car under mysterious, magical circumstances and almost dies, the only person in all of Ascension, Maine, who just happens to have intimate knowledge concerning the Furies just happens to stop by and happens to save Emily. She just happens to know all about fixing cars, and therefore happens to be able to deduce what is happening. She just happens to know exactly what happened of Chase concerning his unfortunate encounter with the Furies. She just happens to have large tomes on the mythology of the Furies, and happens to be dedicated to the research. Thanks to Drea Feiffer, Emily is now fully aware of what is happening to her, and better equipped to save herself from a premature death – doesn’t that work out just fabulously?
It is for these reasons and more that I found Fury to be virtually intolerable as a work of fiction. Fury is a paper-wasting, cheap foray into the world of YA fiction, and I can only hope that Miles’ future works significantly improve after this lower-than-sub-par effort. (less)
The cover of “Low Red Moon” is positively enchanting. When my friend and I spied it on the shelf, we immediately picked it up, startled at how the boo...moreThe cover of “Low Red Moon” is positively enchanting. When my friend and I spied it on the shelf, we immediately picked it up, startled at how the book glowed. I am not immune to beauty, and I certainly was not immune to this book. Despite my reservations toward the book’s contents, I couldn’t walk away fast enough with it in my hands.
My fascination ended with the cover, for face-deep beauty cannot possibly hope to redeem the ugliness inside. The blurb describes this story as “part murder mystery, part grief narrative, and part heart-stopping, headlong romance”. “Low Red Moon” is, without a doubt, one of the worst books I have ever read, and a complete travesty to all the genres it claims to be a part of.
I have noticed lots of reviewers commenting on the artistry of Devlin’s writing, calling the book “poetic”. I am of the opinion that these unenlightened readers have not encountered true poetry; had they done so, they would not have used this term so sparingly. Devlin’s writing really leaves something to be desired. The turn of phrase is forced where it should be eloquent. The author also has the tendency of employing the tool of repetition to emphasise a particular moment of self-reflection or discovery. For example:
“That I wasn’t moving. Wasn’t blinking. That I was sitting with my parents’ bodies, holding their hands in mine, That I’d tried to put what was left of them back together. That all the blood on me came from me trying to make them whole when they were broken. From me trying to put them back together.” (pg 2).
At least every two chapters, Devlin uses a certain phrase to start a series of sentences in order to create the perfect mindset so that we can understand the distraught protagonist better. My criticism about this method is simply overuse. Excessive reliance on one method of writing can allow for the story to become monotonous– which it most definitely did.
Another major point of criticism about “Low Red Moon” for me would be the ridiculous abundance of dashes in the writing. There is nothing wrong with a healthy dose of dashes, and yet this book managed to cross the line by a mile. If I had a dollar for every time Devlin used the em dash in this book, I would be filthy stinkin’ rich. There are two notable instances in which Devlin uses the dash:
1. To demonstrate an interruption in thought in order to insert extra information about something that Avery already talking about:
“It was strange not to be eating a sandwich on her homemade bread. I’d hated it, actually-the heavy weight of it and how it didn’t even look like regular bread-but now I missed it.” (pg 10).
2.To give an aposiopetic impression; that Avery is so emotional that she simply cannot complete her sentence:
“I couldn’t even hear them, and then I- I wasn’t in the kitchen anymore.” (pg 17).
If I were to count, there would be at least a hundred instances like these. There are far more many dashes than necessary! It is outrageous that an editor did not address this miscarriage in literature! Decent, crafty and professional prose should not ever rely on too many dashes. Instead of properly concluding a single thought that Avery has, she breaks it off untimely with a dash and for what purpose? Is it to create a sense of foreboding, or to capture and emphasise a particular emotion? Devlin’s method of writing grief is almost a mockery to the idea of grief. As if grief could be summarised in a set of broken sentences - and yet Low Red Moon makes sure to drive home only that point.
The mystery in this book is a puerile effort at best, and I suggest Devlin hone her abilities before writing another embarrassment of a novel. The “whodunit” question should be burning in my mind but somehow Devlin makes me not a care a lick, because her idea of mystery stops with mushrooms and the colour silver. If such a lack of effort can be characterised as an amazing feat of mystery writing, why even bother reading something like Sherlock Holmes?
Furthermore, there seems to be a trend of writers disregarding the mantra of show, don’t tell. I keep repeating this, and with good reason - because it is the marker of good writing. Except some stilted conversation, there is virtually no relationship between Avery and Ben at the beginning, no sense of drama whatsoever. Two pages later, Avery and Ben fall headlong into this desperate romance which comes on completely unannounced. As a reader, I find it very infuriating that two characters can jump to a star-struck relationship that Romeo and Juliet would have envied, and all without the requisite development.
To quote the good words of George Orwell, “Good prose is like a windowpane”. Unfortunately, this book boasts neither good prose nor the characteristics of a windowpane. (less)