Fury - Shirley Marr This wonderful debut novel by Shirley Marr tells the story of Eliza Boans, a spoiled rich girl who makes no apologies for her attitude or behavior, and who confesses to murder on the first page. As the narrative unfolds, the identity of the victim, the motive for the crime, and the modality of the murder are revealed by Eliza in a series of flashbacks as she recalls her tale to a forensic anthropologist working for the police.

Fury is a nice departure from most of the YA novels I've read lately, most of which are romance driven rather than plot driven. Fury has a solid plot, one that isn't overwhelmed by a sweeping romance. In fact, the romance in Fury is very minimal. Although the main character does have a love interest, and there is teenage dating, it's mostly on the sidelines. For readers looking for a sweeping love story this is not it. That said, I really enjoyed the friendship/flirtation between Eliza and Neil. Their connection was understated, yet very touching and believable.

I enjoyed Eliza, both as a character and as a narrator. She's snarky and fun despite her troubled home, which goes beyond the typical teenage woes. She makes no apologies for who she is or what she's done. Eliza reminds me a bit of Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind in that she can be selfish and spoiled, yet these traits are balanced by an endearing strength, which she uses to defend both herself and those close to her. Her strength, along with her fierce loyalty to her friends make her likable despite her obnoxious attitude.

I also really liked Eliza's childhood friend/sort of crush Neil. Although he's a violent individual with tragic psychological flaws, he still comes across as a sympathetic character. This may partly be due to the fact that we're told the story from Eliza's perspective, which is highly subjective. I fell in love with his protectiveness, as well as his introspective nature. Most of my favorite lines from the book were attributed to him. Neil provides a good balance to Eliza's frustrating lack of self-awareness.

The tone of the novel while dark, is lightened some by Eliza's snark, making it a fun read despite taking on some serious issues. Marr was able to effectively convey Eliza's anger, both in her attitude and her behavior towards others. I was able to get a clear sense of who Eliza was because she treats the reader with the same defensiveness as she does the other characters in the book.

In terms of the writing, Marr's use of a nonlinear narrative style was flawless. Although the novel jumps around quite a bit between the present and the past, the transitions were done in such a way as to prevent confusion. By switching between the past and present, Marr was able to build suspense and foreshadow events without revealing everything until the very end.

On a superficial note, kudos to the author and publisher for choosing a title and cover that are both interesting and relevant to the plot. It's a beautiful cover.

The reason this was a four star read rather than a five, was mainly because I felt that the side characters needed more variety. With the exception of Lexi and possibly Neil, every other character is either a bitch or a jerk from our protagonist, Eliza, to the minor characters like the Principal and the mother sentenced to work in the canteen as retribution for a DUI. Although East Rivermoor is a wealthy suburb filled with entitled snobs, it wasn't believable that every single person was rotten. Perhaps if some of these characters had been fleshed out more, in particular Marianne, whose actions made little sense until the very end, this wouldn't have been an issue.

Additionally, there were also some believability issues related to the police investigation. To be fair, some of my disbelief may be due to the differences in the criminal justice system between Australia and the U.S. Mainly, the supervision of Eliza seemed overly lax, and there were times when I thought that the relationship between Eliza and Dr. Fadden, the forensic anthropologist, was inappropriate.

Also, I found it odd that a forensic anthropologist was questioning Eliza rather than a forensic psychologist or a detective. It is my understanding that forensic anthropologists usually study the remains of the victim to determine the identity and cause of death, while forensic psychologists are typically brought in to question the suspect. This may be a misunderstanding on my part, or a difference between the U.S. and Australia, but it stood out for me, perhaps due to my background in psychology.

Overall, this was an enjoyable novel that kept me hooked from the first page until the last. I look forward to reading Marr's other works once they are written and published. Hopefully Fury will find an international publisher so readers in the U.S. and other countries can obtain a copy more easily.

Acknowledgements

I'd like to thank Wendy Darling over at The Midnight Garden for organizing the U.S. Fury Tour so that I could have the opportunity to read this book. Also, a special thanks to Shirley Marr for providing a copy of the book.