FOUL IS FAIR - Hannah Capin
5 bloody stars
She's beauty, she's grace, she's going to put them all in their place—the grave.
Welcome to Hannah Capin's version of revenge. "For the girls who have had enough," indeed.
Writing style: ★★★★★
I had no idea what I was getting into with Foul is Fair, but I'm here now and it was amazing—twisted in the best way, dark in the best way, and so validating in its satirically dark version of female victim agency.
Elle goes to a party for St. Andrews Prep boys when she was 16. She's chosen as a target for their non-consensual idea of "fun." Imagine what a group of untouchable rich, white boys could do to a vulnerable girl with a drink of who knows what. Yes, that. Yes, in the way it is portrayed in so much media. Trigger warnings for those who cannot handle that subject matter.
They picked the wrong girl.
Elle now goes by Jade, and she's got a plan.
Those boys might be golden, but they're not invincible—all men can bleed. And it's their time to pay up.
Jade enrolls at St. Andrews Prep, and Foul is Fair truly begins.
I honestly cannot distill into words how glorious this novel was. First off, it was brilliantly written. Semi-stream of consciousness, semi-loose form narrative, Foul is Fair has the kind of writing that is hard to get into, but once you're in it you can't stop. It's a rolling train and the brakes are gone. Read this one on a weekend, folks, when you can devote some time to reading it in large chunks.
On top of the writing, we have a Tarantino-esque surrealist violent plot line. Jade's got a hit list, and a swat team of girlfriends who are here to take them down from the inside. Now, obviously, I am not a fan of killing people. That's not the point that Foul is Fair is making. It's not a glory piece on violence. That concept is merely a device the author uses to convey the visceral emotions on behalf of every girl who's been abused, every girl who's been the victim of male violence. In a world where women are still fighting for their right to their own bodies and their own safety, this novel is the best kind of social commentary. I was so, so happy that the author chose to be this unflinching.
What a great novel. This one is unforgettable for many factors, the least of which being that you will never read another novel like this it. New all-time favorite, and a new author to watch.
Thank you to Wednesday Books via NetGalley for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
THE DIVINERS - Libba Bray
This was so much better than I expected? Loved this, what a great starter to a series. 1920s, Manhattan speakeasies, ghosts, oh my!
Density: ★★ (needed less detail)
The Diviners has been on my radar since its release in 2013, but for multiple reasons I never picked it up.
I don't like historical fiction, I said.
I'm not a fan of the 1920s, I said.
Wow that's a big book, I said.
Now it's 2020, the 20s are upon us again, and I freaking loved this massive book.
The Diviners follows the perspectives of a cast of characters in Manhattan, New York City, in the 1920s. But unlike the 20s that you and I know, this era has more magic, more spook, and more pizazz. Essentially, something paranormal and evil is afoot, and our cast of characters is slowly twined together into a group of paranormally-tinged individuals labeled "diviners."
Meet Evie, exiled to her Uncle Will's odd museum of the occult because she read the history off of one too many objects in Ohio—Evie' brash lack of consequence has landed her in a mess, and New York isn't exactly the reform she was expecting to get. She's an incredibly unlikable character—you just want to strangle her—but her role as our eyes and ears grew on me after a while.
Meet Memphis, who once could heal the sick with the touch of his hands. Now, his healing gift has disappeared, but he still finds himself on the edges of the paranormal with his job as the runner for one of Harlem's lynchpin underground tycoons. He's running from his past, running from his future, but something about the dream he keeps having keeps him up at night.
Meet Theta and Harry, who live as platonic friends in a fancy apartment building, both of them grasping at the limelight of the stage. They've got secrets they don't want to share, and some weird abilities that they refuse to acknowledge. When Evie and Memphis bump into their bubble, things will never be the same.
Meet Mabel, the one who's never quite out of her parents' shadow. Socialist parents make great avenues for change, but not exactly the best, well, parents. Mabel's friend Evie is a hurricane that is going to blow Mabel's life to bits whether she likes it or not.
Meet Jericho, the boy hiding behind a bland face and boring smile. His story might be the most otherworldly of them all...
I really, really enjoyed this. But, come on—did it need to be this long? This book is a whopping 578 pages and it feels like it. I loved the plot, I loved the concept, and I loved the characters (except for Evie, tbh), but they're chained down to way too much description, scene set-up, and waiting around for things to happen. Here's to hoping the pacing—and editing—improves in the later books.
So this had some killer punches...including one VERY memorable one at the end. But that doesn’t quite make up for the dead weight.
Pacing: ★★ 1/2
One of Us is Next is the sequel to McManus' explosive debut novel, One of Us is Lying. While technically you could read this one by itself, the amount of references to the first book are numerous enough that I would encourage readers to pick up the first one, well, first.
I was EXTREMELY excited for this sequel. I loved, loved, LOVED One of Us is Lying, and I enjoyed her follow-up mystery/thriller, Two Can Keep a Secret.
But I didn't love this one.
We follow a new cast of characters at Bayview High School, including Maeve (Bronwyn's younger sister, who hacked the gossip site in the first novel), Knox (Maeve's best friend and ex-boyfriend), and Phoebe (a popular-ish twin with an interesting family life).
Maeve, Knox, and Phoebe find themselves at the heart of a twisted game of Truth or Dare when a new faceless gossip monger begins a texting alert with the student body.
Let's play a game - truth or dare?
With Simon's death fresh on their minds, the students of Bayview High are intrigued—but not intimidated—by the new faceless dealer. But then Phoebe doesn't respond to her Truth or Dare request, and the dealer reveals a secret that's way too cutting to be fun...
Uh oh, here we go again.
How well do you know your classmates?
One of Us is Next didn't hit the mark for me, most likely because it was a lesser aftershock of the debut. Too many references, too many reflections, and then the "game" of gossip—in this case, Truth or Dare—was executed with less suspense, less intensity, and less intrigue than One of Us is Lying. I feel bad comparing the two so intensely, but the book itself does so with its continual references to the events of the previous book. If this novel had reflected less, my memory of it might have been softer and I would probably have rated this higher. But if you're going to throw the comparisons in my face, I'm going to...compare them. And this one just doesn't hold up.
Also, the pacing was really tough. For the first half, I found myself slogging through it, waiting for the author's characteristic intrigue and intensity to kick in. It took a longgg time. I LOVED the final reveal, but the last 70 pages doesn't make up for the fact that the first half was mind-numbing.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.