Oh, how I love me a good YA that's not afraid to 'go there'. The Land of YA Go There is a brilliant place made of intelligence, intrigue, and things lost, protected and avenged. It's the place where the stories are self-contained but also relate to societal issues at large. It's the fabled destination that provokes reaction and conversation. Written with sarcastic wit and caustic observation, Shirley Marr's darkly humored and timely Fury is one of the most memorable and sophisticated YA offerings I've read in 2011.
Welcome to the Real Housewives of the O.C., Adolescent Aussie Edition. Eliza Boans is a rich, snobby, high school alpha female, and she makes no bones about it. She lives in a uber wealthy, uber exclusive, gated enclave. She has the best of the best of everything and knows it. And she positively oozes with sarcastic observations about her world and herself. Consider:
"I'm the last person that anyone would have suspected. I'm just Lizzie, typical teenager. I'm all about angst, attitude, designer labels and cupcakes. I want to grow up and do something cool with my life, such as build an orphanage in a third world country like all those saintly Hollywood celebrities. That or, like, cause a scandal and become megafamous. Everyone knows that's how you get noticed these days."
Her detached but spot-on observations about things are really what made me like her. While not a likable character in the 'girl-next-door' sense, her intelligence, brutal honesty and fierce loyalty for her friends will coax your admiration for her. Her brattiness, arrogance and territorial tendencies will leave you exasperated. As you read more, you may even feel some degree of compassion for her, but the worst of her actions might leave you shocked. Straight up, she's a killer. And she doesn't regret it.
The plot is gourmet. Eliza's voice hooks you from the beginning and takes you through a series of present conflicts and past reflections that reveal a complex story of family history, grudges and regrets, fierce loyalties and bitter rivalries that teenage female friendship uniquely produces, and the highs and pitfalls of wealth and influence. You could read this book a number of different ways but you would be doing it an injustice if didn't acknowledge its satirical observations on status and celebrity. Whereas Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games offers commentary on our modern world through dystopian violence, Marr does it with moody humor and vengeance. Marr has a real knack for playing characters off one another, effectively using flashback, and incorporating both minor and major twists. There is a great quid pro quo competition between Eliza and the shrink assigned to handling the murder case that will have you think, "Who the hell is in charge here?" And you know what? The events leading up to the murder. . . I never saw it coming. And I completely get where Eliza is coming from.
A delicious and heartbreaking mix of loyal friendship, vengeance, gossip, entitlement, and the surrealism of status and wealth. Fury incorporates all these into a fast-moving, intrigue-laden stew that will have you saying, "I want more."