Title: Fury #01: Fury
Author: Elizabeth Miles
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):
“It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But all is not as it seems…
Em is thrilled that the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend. And on the other side of town, Chase’s social life is unraveling and the stress of his home life is starting to take its toll. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel….And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.
In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. There are three girls – three beautiful, mysterious girls – to choose who will pay. Em and Chase have been chosen.”
Thoughts: Fury is yet another novel that has a gorgeous cover with an amazing premise that fails to live up to the anticipation and hype. Part of this is the fact that the majority of the novel, a good seventy-five percent of it, is spent setting the stage for the rest of the series. While this bodes well for future novels, it meant that Fury contained too little stand-alone plot to be an engaging or effective read.
What makes it worse is that none of the characters in Fury are all that likable. They are self-absorbed and superficial. While one recognizes that they are teens and teens are self-absorbed and superficial by nature, it still makes for a difficult read. A reader wants to be able to like the main characters in order to be able to support and sympathize with them. When the characters are not enjoyable and one-dimensional, then the story loses all emotional connection.
Similarly, the Furies’ actions seem a bit extreme. Ms. Miles does an excellent job of running through the myths behind the Furies, explaining their main motivations, but their reactions to violations are over the top. For example, Em is guilty of violating one of the ten commandments yet she earns the wrath of Greek mythological figures and, in the eyes of the Furies, deserves to die as a result. This connection/reaction is one of the few poorly explained sections in the novel, and a reader can only hope that more will be explained by this seemingly irrational reaction in future novels.
That being said, the last twenty-five percent of the novel does pick up its pacing and becomes quite interesting. As mentioned above, Ms. Miles spends a large amount of time setting the stage for future novels in the series. With one key plot point still dangling, it does leave a reader interested in what happens next. The superficiality of the main characters will become a larger factor as the series progresses, providing an intriguing counterbalance to the more negative aspects of this characteristic.
The main redeeming factor of Fury is its writing. Ms. Miles excels at setting a stage, balancing description, narrative and dialogue with ease. While the main characters may not be all that enjoyable, a reader has no trouble picturing them or understanding their motivations. In fact, one of the reasons why they are so difficult to like is precisely because of how realistic and life-like they are. Ms. Miles establishes much of the tone of Fury through its setting, using precise descriptions of the weather and region to provide as much ambiance and mood as possible. In the hands of a less-skilled writer, this could cause the novel to become campy, but Ms. Miles successfully maintains the gravitas appropriate for the action.
Fury is an example of great writing with somewhat poor execution. This poor execution is only because Ms. Miles carefully sets the stage for what is to come. While this first in the series may not be as explosively exciting as other YA series, its premise is different enough to generate interest. Ms. Miles’ writing is appropriately taut where necessary, waxing to overly dramatic to successfully establish her main characters. On the the surface, Fury may not be the best YA novel read this year, there are enough positives to remain hopeful and interested in future stories in the series.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for my e-galley!