Saturday, June 16, 2012

Review - The Fury

The Eulogy (From the Publisher): Cal, Brick and Daisy are three ordinary teenagers whose lives suddenly take a terrifying turn for the worst. They begin to trigger a reaction in everybody they meet, one that makes friends and strangers alike turn rabid whenever they are close. One that makes people want to tear them to pieces
Cal and the other victims of the Fury – the ones that survive – manage to locate each other. But just when they think they have found a safe place to hide from the world, some of them begin to change...
They must fight to uncover the truth about the Fury before it's too late. But it is a truth that will destroy everything they know about life and death

The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): A brilliant epic in the same vein as Michael Grant's Gone and Charlie Higson's The Enemy.

Check out my other review of The Fury here.

Dearly Departed,

We are gathered here today to discuss The Fury, by Alexander Gordon Smith. I'm sitting here stuck for words because I really don't know where to begin… okay, here: this book is amazing. It really, really is. There are just so many good things about it that I want to say at once, which might make for a bit of a confusing review, so I'll start on what I loved most about it - the characters.

Smith has masterfully created the characters of Brick, Daisy, Cal (and others) whose lives have been disrupted by the fact that everybody wants them dead. What I found so clever about this scenario is that these characters would never have got along under normal circumstances: you have Brick, the misunderstood big kid who has 'one of those faces' you take an instant dislike to; Cal the a sports star beloved by all who isn't used to anyone not liking him, let alone hating him; and then there's Daisy, who is young and na├»ve, yet incredibly wise and calm at the same time. Normally they wouldn't have chosen to be friends, but now that the whole world has turned against them, they have no choice, and it's in these stressful moments of forced interaction that the characters' personalities really shine. 

I was watching Cloverfield the other night, and while I liked the setup, I quickly grew bored by the characters. They were stereotypical horror fodder, and they made bad decisions. In an effort to make the characters appeal to everyone, the filmmakers made them too generic. By the end, I was cheering as each of them fell. The Fury is like the complete opposite of this - I genuinely liked all of the characters, and they were all perfectly brought to life on the page to the point where I was really worried about the fate of one of the main characters in particular, and found myself thinking that if something happened to this character, I was going to have to write an angry letter to Smith. I was even cheering for the characters who weren't typically 'good guys' because I understood where they were coming from and I agreed with their motives.

The other thing that The Fury mastered was the scary monster. I'm not going to ruin anything here, but this puts such an interesting spin on our pre-existing notions of a particular concept. This should come as no surprise to those who have read Smith's Escape From Furnace series, which introduce the reader to some fantastically monstrous bad guys. There are two particular scenes in The Fury that are terrifying - possibly some of the most unsettling I've ever read. The skill in this comes from Smith's writing, and his ability to paint a very vivid picture without ever overwriting it.

Last week in the bookshop I was asked to recommend something to a boy who had read all of Michael Grant's Gone series. I started to recommend his other series, BZRK, when I stopped mid-sentence, picked up a copy of The Fury and shoved it in his hands, while commanding him to 'Buy this one. Now.' Maybe it was the brilliant cover, maybe he was afraid of me, but he did, and I know he won't be disappointed. While it's inevitable that The Fury will get compared to other horror tomes like Grant's and Charlie Higson's The Enemy, I think Smith's latest novel will attract its own Grant-esque army of followers because it's so damned good.

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