Kelly's Reviews > Foul Is Fair

Foul Is Fair by Hannah Capin
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really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2019, reviewed

Mean Girls + Kill Bill + The Craft

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Netgalley. Trigger warning for violence against women, including rape and domestic abuse, as well as murder and suicide.)

I said, I spat, I swore: You picked the wrong girl.
They did.
They had to.
It could only be me.
Not the first—
—but the last, the last, the last.
They picked the right girl.


“We’ll be the witches they don’t believe in until it’s too late.”


Elle, Mads, Summer, and Jenny: young, wealthy, powerful, privileged. The quartet of besties rules their LA social circle: "We were middle school six months early, wearing our shiny new crowns before anyone else knew a monarchy was coming." They are as ruthless as they are rich. Summer ruins starry-eyed boys for fun; Jenny can kill with her saccharine sweetness. Mads is the daughter of a crime boss who taught her and Elle to defend themselves when Mads came out as trans and was bullied at school. Ride or die? They coined the term, bitches.

When they crash a party at St. Andrew’s Preparatory School to celebrate Elle's sweet sixteen, the golden boys on the lacrosse team separate Elle from her pack, like so many wolves on the hunt. Duncan, king/captain, singles Elle out for slaughter; his younger brother, Malcolm, slips Rohypnol into her drink; and Porter guards the door while teammates Duncan, Duffy, Connor, and Banks take turns raping her. Duffy's on-again, off-again girlfriend Piper witnesses the assault, but does nothing to stop it.

Elle arises from the ashes like a phoenix transformed: she is the same hard, cruel girl she was, but more. Now she is Jade with the razor-sharp claws, hair shorn and colored REVENGE black, eyes obscured by contacts that match her new name. She promptly enrolls in St. Andrew's Prep and vows to get her bloody satisfaction before the week is out, before her bruises (and their scratch marks) have a chance to heal. Jade and her coven hatch a plan to take the golden boys (and one flock girl) down, all at the hand of one of their own.

Foul Is Fair is wild and audacious, in the best way possible. I almost passed on it, because Jade and her crew seem like characters I'd otherwise loathe: part of the 1%, kids who use their parents' influence to get away with all sorts of transgressions, including bloody murder. (Think: the Drumpf kids, but with more panache and intelligence.)

But I do love me a good rape revenge story, and this one is in a class of its own: Kill Bill (which is of course I Spit On Your Grave + Bruce Lee) meets Mean Girls meets The Craft. Plus, for all her casual cruelty, the objects of Jade's malice usually have it coming, for one reason or another. She is an avenging angel, if a fallen one at that. (Summer, though - Summer I wonder about. Spin-off, please? And a sequel for Lilia, I feel like that chick could be going places.)

I also found myself falling in like with the parents, again in spite of myself. I mean, these are some pretty terrible people: Jenny's dad is a sleazy defense attorney who gets paid to victim-blame girls like Elle, and did I mention that Mads's dad is a literal organized crime boss? Yet, despite their many flaws, these adults support their kids unconditionally - and not just monetarily, e.g., by buying their way out of trouble. Instead of putting a hit out on his daughter's tormentors, Mads's dad taught her how to fight...and then didn't bat an eye when Elle casually mentioned that they were going to kill the bullies, not just kick their asses. Ditto Elle's parents when, upon learning of their daughter's assault, were content enough to let Elle handle it, her way. Murder heavily implied.

Is Foul Is Fair in any way, shape, or form believable? Nah. Unlike with Lisa Lutz's The Swallows - another recent book tackling rape culture and sexual assault in an insular and privileged high school community - I can't with a straight face insist that I can picture this playing out outside of the big (or little) screen. And that's okay! Foul Is Fair is a deliciously savage rape revenge fantasy. One hundred percent, complete and total escapism and wish fulfillment.

I mean, if we can't get justice in the real world, we deserve to see it with compounded, payday loan-esque interest in the fictional realm, right? (Trust me, patriarchy, you're still getting the better end of the deal.)

http://www.easyvegan.info/2020/01/04/...
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Reading Progress

August 31, 2019 – Started Reading
September 1, 2019 – Shelved
September 1, 2019 – Shelved as: read-in-2019
September 5, 2019 – Finished Reading
September 11, 2019 – Shelved as: reviewed

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