Sunday, 16 September 2012
Review: Fury by Shirley Marr
"My name is Eliza Boans and I am a murderer."
How is that for a brilliant opening line? I was instantly hooked. I love a mystery, and when a book opens with the protagonist in a police station confessing to murder, you know you're in for a good one. Who was murdered and why - and whether Eliza actually did it - is slowly divulged through flashbacks, as Eliza tells her story to an interrogator. Importantly, the pace isn't too slow; just the right amount of information is revealed at key moments to keep an impatient Gen Y-er like me satisfied, while maintaining my interest and keeping me guessing till the end. It was intense, but in a very good way.
My favourite thing about Fury was Eliza (which was handy, considering she's the main character and all). She's the opposite of a passive Mary Sue waiting to be saved. Eliza's personality radiates from the page, and as the story unfolds you see she can take care of herself - and her friends, too, for that matter. All of the characters are well fleshed-out and realistic. They're not always likable, but that just made them feel more real to me. Speaking from experience, teenage girls can be downright bitches at times - but they can also be the fiercest friends you'll ever have. I loved that Marr didn't shy away from this aspect in Eliza's friendships.
The authentic feel of the story was enhanced by the language. It's smart, funny, very Aussie and totally teen - but not in an annoying way. Eliza's narration feels natural; not like an "old person" trying to sound like a teenager. Her voice is established on the very first page; she's witty, snarky and a little bit twisted, and uses slang like "povo" and "snogged". But I don't want to make it sound like the language was all sarcastic and slang-y, because it's not. There are moments of absolute beauty and insight; my favourite was around the half way point when Eliza says, "I'm so tired, here in my head.". I hear ya, sister. Basically, Eliza spoke my language. And I loved it.
One thing about the language - or, rather, the names - is that they're inspired by famous literary characters, especially from Jane Austen. I really loved this nod to the classics, but the downside was that it could be a bit jarring at times, taking you out of the story, rather than into it. But this was a minor quibble. I really adored this book - the plot, the setting, the characters and especially its unpredictability. It's not every day you come across a YA book that has a truly unique storyline and a strong voice. But it's awesome when you do.
How gorgeous is the cover of Fury? Shirley Marr has done some awesome behind-the-scenes posts about the cover (and the ones that were rejected) here and here.