Review: THE FURY by Alexander Gordon Smith
First up a disclaimer: I’ve met Alexander Gordon Smith a few times. We’ve shared a stage together (along with Darren Shan), we’ve got lost in Edinburgh together, we’ve even hugged large animals together. Despite this, I would have absolutely no hesitation or remorse in saying his new novel, THE FURY, was rubbish if it was. Thankfully, it isn’t. It’s flippin’ ace.
Here’s the official blurb/synopsis:
Imagine if one day, without warning, the entire human race turns against you.
Every single person you meet becomes a bloodthirsty, mindless savage, hell-bent on killing you – and only you.
Friends, family, even your mum and dad, will turn on you. They will murder you.
And when they have, they will go back to their lives as if nothing has happened.
The world has the Fury.
It will not rest until you are dead.
Cal, Brick and Daisy are three ordinary teenagers whose lives suddenly take a terrifying turn for the worst. They begin to trigger a reaction in everybody they meet, one that makes friends and strangers alike turn rabid whenever they are close. One that makes people want to tear them to pieces.
Cal and the other victims of the Fury – the ones that survive – manage to locate each other. But just when they think they have found a safe place to hide from the world, some of them begin to change…
They must fight to uncover the truth about the Fury before it’s too late. But it is a truth that will destroy everything they know about life and death.
Based on the blurb above you’d be forgiven for thinking THE FURY is similar to Charlie Higson’s THE ENEMY series. While there are certainly some similarities in the concept, they are completely different books and – whisper it – I’d go so far as to say this one is better.
Plot-wise there’s not a huge amount to add to the official blurb up above. It isn’t a book with a complicated storyline, and yet it manages to sink its fingernails into your face right from the jaw-dropping prologue, and refuses to let go until the final page. That journey from start to end isn’t a pleasant one, either, and I mean that in the best possible way. We’re dragged screaming through the chapters, battered by unrelenting horror for page after blood-soaked page.
Even during the quieter spells, when Gordon is letting us get to know the characters, there’s a foreboding cloud hanging over the scene, a dread instinct that, while things may be peaceful now, scary stuff is inevitably looming around the corner. I actually found myself getting nervous at points, and would have a quick glance down the page to see if anything nasty was coming. It’s the literary equivalent of constantly looking back over your shoulder when walking home in the dark, and it’s a testament to Gordon’s writing that he could turn this six-foot-four Scotsman into quite such a paranoid wreck.
Without giving much away, the scenes in which the oldest boy, Brick, is talking to his girlfriend (well, almost certainly ex-girlfriend) when she is locked in the basement were particularly effective at making the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I could never shake the feeling that the relationship wasn’t going to end well and… well, you’ll just have to read it yourself to find out. (Hint: It doesn’t)
The only part of the book I wasn’t 100% sure about was towards the end, when we discover what’s causing The Fury. The story took a bit of a departure from horror here and slipped into fantasy, although I can’t really think of another way it could have been explained, at least not without going down the well-worn virus/immunity route. It’s a much more original explanation than that, but it took me a bit of time to fully buy into it. This is only the first of two books, though, so it’ll be interesting to see what direction the second part of the story takes when it is published next year, and I have full confidence that Gordon knows what he’s doing.
This is an outstanding horror book, but with plenty to set it apart from the standard blood-and-gore fare: an interesting bunch of characters, an intriguing spin on a familiar concept, and some top quality writing from one of the best YA horror authors in the business. If you’re a fan of scares, or just good storytelling, I can’t recommend THE FURY highly enough.
Published 5th April by Faber & Faber, Priced £7.99