Review: Furious by Jill Wolfson

Furious
Jill Wolfson

Henry Holt & Co
Releases April 16, 2013
336 pages
YA / Mythology / Mean Girls

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Three high school girls become the avenging Furies of Greek legend.

We were only three angry girls, to begin with. Alix, the hot-tempered surfer chick; Stephanie, the tree-hugging activist; and me, Meg, the quiet foster kid, the one who never quite fit in. We hardly knew each other, but each of us nurtured a burning anger: at the jerks in our class, at our disappointing parents, at the whole flawed, unjust world.

We were only three angry girls, simmering uselessly in our ocean-side California town, until one day a mysterious, beautiful classmate named Ambrosia taught us what else we could be: Powerful. Deadly. Furious.

Three misfit girls become the reincarnation of the Furies from Greek myth. They have a puppet master with an elusive story and a potential adversary playing on the side of good. Alix, Stephanie and Meg didn’t start out being the mean girls, but it doesn’t take them long to become power hungry and delirious on their abilities. It becomes hard to root for any of them, and it isn’t really an issue on which side is good and which is bad. There’s a lot of room to play with issues of good and evil, but this is just straight forward misunderstood girls gain power and become the people they hate before seeing the light and becoming good again.

The predictable storyline was more enjoyable due to the form of storytelling Wolfson chose to use. Yes, Meg is misunderstood and it’s kind of annoying inside her head, but by intersecting her narrative with the stasimons from a real Greek tragedy told in the voice of Ambrosia, the story becomes more complex. Unfortunately Ambrosia is more interesting in her brief spots of narration and rants about human nature during these stasimons than at any point during the actual story. She is obviously the Big Bad, and it bummed me out that this obviousness was so obvious yet all the characters (except for Ambrosia’s rival) were oblivious and thought she was the super cool girl with a predilection to talk back to her history teacher.

And then there’s Raymond. He was my absolute favorite part of this book. Raymond is delightful throughout. There isn’t a better word to describe him. He’s laid back, sarcastic and has a genuinely good heart. He also does crazy things like throw his hand in Meg’s face and say, “Interrupting starfish!” This has now become part of my regular lexicon because “interrupting starfish” cracked me up at its randomness and befitting exclamation. Along with scenes involving Alix’s brother, a mentally handicapped teenage boy, Raymond was the sole source of light, and by his existence in Meg’s life, a small amount of humanity and sensitivity still stuck to her despite her rapid descent into evil.

I get that Meg was mistreated her entire life – abandoned by her parents, raised by a series of foster parents that didn’t really want her, and treated like a misfit by her peers – but even by the end, after her dance with evil and terrorizing her entire school, she still comes off as weak-natured. Deciding she’d rather be good and not terrorize her classmates instead of evil doesn’t exactly add up to strong in my book. Her naiveté and gullibility were too much for me to handle at times, but then Raymond would show up and be adorable, and I’d forget about whatever annoyance struck me lately.

Wolfson’s writing was interesting, but a little redundant. She has an amazing knack for describing details and wrapping you into these moments of supernatural power. The conclusion of the Furies battle against the side of good was fascinating to read about, and the most enjoyable parts of Furious not involving Raymond were the instances where the Furies really took hold of their powers. Wolfson writes a majority of the non-Fury related drama in a more stream of consciousness way that fits the running thoughts of a teenage girl. It isn’t anything particularly elegant and regularly becomes obsessive on something small, but it felt real most of the time.

Furious is another standalone! Those always excite me and the ideas in this book wouldn’t have really worked in a series, so I’m glad Wolfson didn’t try to drag it on. I think this is a nice book for someone who doesn’t mind naïve school girls becoming evil and thinking they’re doing good. Perhaps those who may want to live high school revenge fantasies through the safety of fictional characters. I just wish the characters themselves had a little more forethought and weren’t so self-centered. Granted that’s pretty much all teenage girls, but still, it would have been nice to have a little more substance to these characters.

 

I received an advanced ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. Thanks Macmillian for being awesome.