Hate is a Strong Word, Furious is Stronger
Furious: Jill Wolfson
Review by Casey Cook
It is difficult not to love Furious when the plot revolves around hate, revenge, and making others miserable. Three goddesses called the Furies are essentially manifestations of revenge, hate, and fury. In Furious by Jill Wolfson the Furies are reborn into three high school girls; a foster child, a surfer girl, and an environmentalist. Tying these three unlikely friends is the beautiful, perfect, and mysterious Ambrosia.
The book follows the foster child, Meg, as she finds out that “Life has changed. I have a special purpose, a destiny. There’s no doubt about it. I’m Megaera, a Fury. This is the new normal. Don’t you think a personal revelation of this magnitude deserves a day off from school?”
Meg is not the only one with a personal revelation. Along with her are the headstrong surfer, Alix and the green activist, Stephanie. The three of them compose the Furies and together they bring forth justice by punishing the wrongdoers in their lives.
Ambrosia brings the three together and leads them through their journey of hate and misery. Ambrosia, a being of unknown origin, expresses her evil ploy through stasimons, like in a Greek play. She puts the story on pause and explains what has happened and what she is secretly planning. Ambrosia cares for none other than herself, but is proud of her minions. “Don’t you adore those three lovely, ugly girls? I do.” Ambrosia said in her second stasimon. “How quickly they learn. I’m thrilled to see the light come on behind their eyes as they begin to understand their capabilities…There is no escape from the terrors of the mind. Brava!”
Although the beginning had a lot of information and background about Meg which made it hard to dive in right away, it is important to understand all that information to fully grasp the plot of the book. It is important to know what kind of person Meg is and how she begins the journey of being a Greek goddess. Once the fun begins, when she finds out about her powers, the roller coaster ride begins twisting through loops and turns and all that excitement comes with it.
Not only do we find out why Meg hates everyone, but we also discover why Alix and Stephanie hate everyone too. Alix is the strong, buff surfer girl who fights off bullies and stands up for her family. She’s strong hearted and is not afraid to take chances, especially out on the waves. Behind all the bravado of being the toughest female surfer, she has a weakness for her brother and always stands up for him. Her rage comes from years of protecting her brother from bullies who are disrespectful and just plain mean to him. She wants to punish everyone that has caused him pain.
Then there is Stephanie, the environmentally friendly activist that does all that she can to protect Mother Earth. Stephanie is just that, a teenage hippy girl complete with dreadlocks and environmental protests. She is outspoken and enraged with non-environmentally aware people. Stephanie is also considered the laughing stock of the class since she cares so much about Mother Earth and all of its inhabitants. But she still refuses to give up her plight to save the planet which is where all of Stephanie’s anger comes from. All she wants to do is save the planet from the big corporations and companies by exacting her revenge on those who indulge in the treachery.
These two make for the perfect sidekicks for Meg. However, the one sidekick that plays the biggest role in Meg’s life is her best friend Raymond and “According to Hunter High mythology, [Raymond] started talking in complete sentences when he was six months old and hasn’t shut up since…He’s by far the youngest, smartest, most accomplished person in our class, but also kind of an idiot.”
Raymond is extremely entertaining, the comic relief in the middle of a drama story. He’s a well defined, intelligent, and a fun character to be with, even with all of his social indifferences. He’s that strange kid that no one wants to talk to, but is so entertaining when he does talk.
Raymond has a unique way of speaking with impressive words and in-depth knowledge that at times needs a translation, but that makes him even more likeable. “Raymond nods. ‘True. What the ancients lacked in a fair and impartial justice system, they made up for in bloodthirsty feuds that decimated entire families for generations’…I translate: ‘Revenge is a big theme in plays.’” Meg and Raymond have a special bond that only two outcasts can share.
Throughout the story, the Fury girls work on a school project together, researching Greek plays. The concept of these girls being in a play is mentioned multiple times by Meg in the way that she expresses herself. Even Ambrosia’s monologues or stasimons throughout the book give it that feel that everything is a play and Ambrosia is directing it. As Ambrosia says, “’The best plays—those by Aeschylus, for example—are about revenge.’” And she intends to make Meg’s life just like one of those plays. The nods to Greek theatre give the storyline that extra push it needs to make it believable.
In the end, Furious is worth the time to read and full of teenage angst and hatred for the world. The ending gets a little supernatural, but that is only to add to the drama of the final stand. Slow start, exhilarating ending, and filled with all the drama that comes with being a teenager in high school. The characters are well thought out and believable. Each character has their own agenda during the story and the way they all meld together is incredible. Bottom line: Furious is about friendship and figuring out what the right thing to do is. It is relatable since many people have these kinds of struggles. If someone is constantly bullying you and you had the chance to punish them for it, would you do it?
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Author Bio: Jill Wolfson
Jill Wolfson was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After attending Temple University, she worked as a journalist for newspapers and magazines around the country, such as the Fort Lauderdale (Florida) Sun-Sentinel and San Jose (California) Mercury News. Her award-winning novels for young people include What I Call Life; Home, and Other Big, Fat Lies; Cold Hands, Warm Heart, and Furious, all published by Henry Holt.
Jill has taught writing at several universities and is a long-time volunteer in a writing program for incarcerated teens. She lives in a beach town in Northern California.