Sunday, September 4, 2011
Review: Fury by Elizabeth Miles
Series: The Fury Trilogy #1
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Emily and Chase aren't bad people -- they've just made a few mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, right? A little remorse and everything will be fine. Unfortunately, some acts can't be taken back -- and three beautiful, mysterious girls are here to make sure they pay. As Emily and Chase are about to learn, sometimes sorry just isn't enough.
Fury alternates between two teens, Emily and Chase, and carefully sketches in the details of their ordinary, every day lives. It is surprising to discover that the mythological beings are not the main characters of this novel -- instead, they hover on the fringe, leaving the focus on the remarkably human and flawed leads. Elizabeth Miles brings her cast to life, making them seem more like people than characters. The inhabitants of Ascension are not extraordinary, and that's what makes them so authentic. They are imperfect and not all that likable -- but that seems to be the point. Emily is naive and shallow, not to mention a terrible friend, and Chase seems petty and insecure. Their off-putting personalities make sense in the context of the novel, yet it also makes it difficult to invest in their fates. Miles' skill at humanizing her characters is impressive, but they would be more rounded with a few admirable traits as well.
Em and Chase are not the most despicable people in town by a long shot, yet they're the unfortunate souls singled out for vengeance. The fact that the avenging girls are not the protagonists adds to their mystique, but it also obscures the method to their madness. The first half of the novel drags, as it's impossible to tell what transgression Chase committed or what punishment Emily is receiving for her own crimes. Crucial backstory isn't introduced until late in the novel, leaving readers feeling confused for an agonizing length of time. Yet, though Emily's story line is clearest at the outset, Chase's plot ends up being the strongest as he moves inexorably toward his fate. Though neither is endearing, Chase has the most complexity -- from his love-and-hate relationship with a childhood friend, to his attempt to rise above his socioeconomic status -- readers will feel sorry for him as his punishment progresses (even if he seems to be determinedly walking into the trap).
The calculating and manipulative powers of their tormentors are made starkly and terrifyingly clear as the novel spirals toward its devastating conclusion. Miles lays a strong groundwork for her mythology, immersing readers in the fear and uncertainty of a trapped animal as Em and Chase's plight snowballs out of their control. Subtly threatening interjections and foreboding language serve to heighten the impending sense of doom. The avenging girls are eerie and ominous, mysterious and elusive -- not to mention a little insane, in an unnervingly manic way. Their utter unpredictability is part of what makes them so chilling. Fury takes an innovative approach to adapting mythology, raising thought-provoking ethical questions rather than romanticizing the supernatural. Though the opening dragged, the latter half of the novel picks up the pace, throwing multiple curve balls at unsuspecting readers and leaving them with more questions than answers about the nature of justice in an unjust world.
Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this novel at BEA for an honest review.
Part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.