Fiction: “Fury” by Elizabeth Miles

furyWell. After the interminable hell that was The Story of Ain’t, I still had four books from the library to read before December 12. This was the shortest with the biggest print (which also enabled me to finish it before November 30. Huzzah!).

Fury originally caught my eye when I was taking a stroll through Bull Moose in Scarborough. For the uninitiated, Bull Moose is the best record store this side of Empire Records. No, I’m serious. It’s a local chain of music stores that branched out into DVDs, video games, and now (thanks to Borders going under), the only place I buy books. For cheap! Anyway, Fury was on the “new and notable” pile. I read the synopsis on the inside of the cover, and it stuck with me.

It takes place in Ascension, Maine, and the star is Emily Winters. She finds herself in love with her best friend’s boyfriend. Meanwhile, Chase Singer, star quarterback, is finding himself in a stressful situation and his public persona is starting to unravel. And according to the synopsis, “In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls — three beautiful, mysterious girls — are here to choose who will pay.”

Sounds interesting, right?


Look, I don’t want to deride Ms. Miles. She hails from Portland, and the story is written beautifully, with deep, descriptive, evocative language. (I just realized I’ve been overusing commas, quite possibly erroneously. I’m sorry. I’ll try to curtail that impulse.) For me, the actual plot did not live up to the promise of what the cover described.

Because yes, Emily is in love with Zach, her best friend Gabby’s boyfriend. And while Gabby is vacationing in Spain with her family, Em and Zach fool around a bit. They call it ‘hooking up,’ but to my knowledge, ‘hooking up’ usually means ‘sex,’ and they never get farther than second base. Zach tells Emily that when Gabby gets back, he’s going to break up with Gabby so he can be with Em. Em’s best friend JD, the literal boy next door, doesn’t trust him and tells Em so, which causes her to run directly to Zach.

Except that Zach is a total tool and was only saying that to get into Em’s pants; of course he has no intention of breaking up with Gabby. Duh-doi. Em is heartbroken. In my head, I can only hear Archer: “Oh, ugly duckling. Bok bok!”

On the other side of town, Chase is trying to find a date to the football feast. There’s this gorgeous girl who’s new to town. She has flaming red hair, two equally-beautiful cousins, and crazy eyes. Ty (that’s her name) gets close to Chase, and he becomes enamored of her. There are a series of dates and near-dates that cause Chase to fall more in love with her and also cause him much embarrassment.

There’s also a subplot to Chase’s saga: his former friend, Sasha, jumped off an overpass and ended up in a coma. He experiences some guilt, but nothing serious enough to make him go visit her. Because see, she fell out of popularity last year, and if it gets out that he used to be friends with that type of trailer trash (he himself living in a trailer park), it’d be all over for him.

Ty and her two cousins, Meg and Ali, are quite obviously the Furies. Even if you aren’t familiar with the Greek names (and the only reason I was was because I was doing research earlier this year on Greek gods for a piece I’m attempting to write and came across the Furies while I was looking at gods about vengeance and death and other murky stuff), three beautiful girls who end up doling out death and destruction? Again: duh-doi. Although I suppose cases could be made that they could also be either Sirens or Fates.

Here’s the thing: all the teenagers are awful. We’re supposed to sympathize with Emily, I guess, but she still willingly gets involved with a boy who she knows is involved with her best friend. Even if Zach wasn’t a tool, it’s still wrong. (Although I may have a higher sense of morality than teenagers today.) (And now I sound like I’m fifty. These teenagers today. Jesus, four months from turning thirty and I skipped two decades. Why don’t I just start telling the ‘four miles in the snow barefoot to school, uphill both ways’ story right now?) And Chase is no better, attempting to hook up with anyone who’ll have him, as long as she’s pretty and popular, and completely ignoring where he comes from on the whole popularity scale.

The Furies are just as bad, luring teenagers to their deaths as retribution for what are, in the grand scheme of things, relatively minor transgressions. In the end, Emily is spared from her fate by swallowing some seeds that tie her to the Furies. I’m not sure what their equivalent is supposed to be in the Greek, mainly because I don’t care and also, it’s clearly setting up the next book in the series, which I am not going to read.

For all that shoddy retribution crap, there were two things that either totally took me out of the book or made me truly not like it. The first – and more minor of trangressions – is this:

By the time she reached the doors [of the T, the Boston subway system], the announcer was ringing the bell. Please stand clear of the closing doors. She slipped through just as the doors started to clamp shut.

But she wasn’t all the way out. Her huge shoulder bag got cinched in the closing doors — and her arm was still entangled in its strap.

As the train chugged to a start, Em had to walk faster and faster, panic building inside of her, struggling to extricate her arm. [228]

NO. That doesn’t happen on the T. First of all, there are no bells on the T; there are tones and beeps. Secondofly, if someone can hear the conductor, then it’s a goddamn miracle. And thirdly, I have never EVER seen the T doors completely close on something that causes the owner to have to jog along with the train to keep up with it. They closly monitor that shit. Even the Green Line, which is notoriously packed all the effing time, doesn’t let that happen.

And this should have been where I shut the book and decided to never finish it, but at this point in the narrative, I had more curiosity than apathy and decided to keep going:

He stayed there, thinking about how beautiful she’d looked under the snowy streetlights, her skin translucent and glowing, even in the yellow-tinged hue of his crappy kitchen. He stood there remembering how close she’d stayed as he’d leaned over the stove.

She dazzled him. [122-123]


Grade for Fury: No stars.


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