The Fury by Alexander Gordon Smith
|The Fury by Alexander Gordon Smith|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A very dark tale of children hardly surviving in a strange new world, with great intelligent swerves through the obvious genre classics. Roll on the second half!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 544||Date: April 2012|
|Publisher: Faber and Faber|
Brick felt it. Daisy felt it. Cal felt it. All three, unconnected kids, had the same noisy, throbbing headache at the same time - and all aches went at the same time, in very disappointing circumstances. Brick took his girlfriend to his favourite place, an abandoned theme park, and found her response to both it and him to be not what he expected. Daisy was the school Juliet, and found the experience quite traumatic - almost as bad as what she found back at home. Cal was more regularly after the attention, as the school's best football player, but found everyone's eyes turned to you is one thing, everyone turning against you is another.
And that's just the beginnings of the plot of this action mystery. The three children meet, as we demand, and after that we're putty in Gordon Smith's hands as he throws everything at us pell-mell. The craft of his imaginative storytelling is that a lot of it is familiar - this cliche, that trope, that other recognisable element, but he throws it all together into a fresh, energetic novelty.
It sounds silly to say, but there might be too much immediacy to this work. The three children are suffering from some primal problems, especially Daisy - and I wasn't sure I liked her thread at first, as it was too blatantly psychological - not exactly Freudian as we understand the word, but a bit simplified and obvious. Also, while alternative chapters spread us across the characters, AGS's intense, blunt, cinematic style sometimes thrusts from one helter-skelter action piece to another, with little variety in the relentlessness.
That said, there is still enough great content here. Despite a heck of a lot of activity, there is actually enough space - and enough carefully dropped clues - for us to see what is going to be happening. That this book ends with an open pause does not mean it merely serves as an advert for its sequel (it's being sold as the first part of a two-volume adventure) - there is more than enough for one book. People die, other characters turn up, and all the time the pages seem to turn by themselves, as we wait to see if our predictions are correct or not. Even when they are, there's no problem in that at all.
I nearly rated this as worthy of four stars, as like I said we were made to emote for the lead children in too blunt a way. But there's just too much intelligence on show here - witness the appropriate quotes that launch each chapter, even the fact that the chapters are split by not asterisks as usual but frowning un-smileys is appropriate. Despite all the subtleties contrasting with the bloody, destructive gore and drama, it read like a quickly-written book - and considering how much action the second half has to live up to matching, I hope that too comes to us soon.
I must thank the kind Faber Teens people for my review copy.
More action in a strange theme park can be read in The Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks, but as this is towards the more adult side of the teen audience, I can't see much wrong with pairing it with something officially mature like The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett - both feature young adults facing evil threats while their reality is unfolded slowly in front of their eyes over several hundred pages.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Fury by Alexander Gordon Smith at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Fury by Alexander Gordon Smith at Amazon.com.
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