Publication Date: July 24, 2012
Type: ARC, received for review
Jason Bourne meets The Sopranos in this breathtaking adventure
Sara Jane Rispoli is a normal sixteen-year-old coping with school and a budding romance--until her parents and brother are kidnapped and she discovers her family is deeply embedded in the Chicago Outfit (aka the mob).
Now on the run from a masked assassin, rogue cops and her turncoat uncle, Sara Jane is chased and attacked at every turn, fighting back with cold fury as she searches for her family. It's a quest that takes her through concealed doors and forgotten speakeasies--a city hiding in plain sight. Though armed with a .45 and 96K in cash, an old tattered notebook might be her best defense--hidden in its pages the secret to "ultimate power." It's why she's being pursued, why her family was taken, and could be the key to saving all of their lives.
Action packed, with fresh, cinematic writing, Cold Fury is a riveting and imaginative adventure readers will devour.
If I look at this objectively, I can say that I enjoyed it.
It was fun. It was interesting. It was fast-paced and intriguing. I never forced myself to read on, even through the info-dumps--despite the pages-long barrage of information, it was interesting enough to hold my attention.
And I really, really liked our heroine. She was courageous, intelligent, cunning, relatable, imperfect. She was thoughtful and witty, and her commentary on all that had happened--as well as this whole crazy world in general--was a pleasure to read. Also, she kicked ass. Yes, she did tend to take the approach of brute strength over reasoning, but it was refreshing to see a heroine who could and did try to handle her own problems.
But here is the problem: despite its marketing, despite the character's ages, I spent this entire novel feeling as though I were reading a middlegrade.
I have nothing against middlegrade. Not at all. Some of my very favorite reads are children's books. But I was told this was YA, and the character is 16, so I came into this expecting a more mature novel. One where side characters were created with real depth and attention, not made to be one-dimensional stereotypes. One where the dialogue was sharp and captivating, not impossibly cheesy and unrealistic. One where the plot was complex and thrilling, with actual stakes and actual obstacles, not a simple, random, tension-less creation where everything always works out. One where the sixteen-year-old characters acted like teenagers, not elementary schoolers.
Also, while I won't go too in-depth for fear of a ramble/rant, I was very troubled by the way the subjects of bullying, suicide, and depression were handled in this novel. It seemed as though all of it were created to be a superficial sub-plot, and the author seems to think that this can all be shoved away in an instant. That someone who was genuinely contemplating killing themself will be A-OK once they find their "purpose" or "fate" or some bullshit like that. It was yet another thing that stressed to me the overwhelming middlegrade tones in this novel; I know in many children's novels, authors are reluctant to get into the nitty-gritty of issues such as these, for fear that children won't be able to handle it/grasp the gravity of it. While I disagree with this, I do recognize that it's common in novels aimed at a younger audience. Since this is a novel geared towards teenagers, I see no excuse.
Overall? It's not a bad book. It's really not. The concept was great, the MC was well-developed and intensely likable, and the book itself always managed to hold my interest. It just did not meet my expectations for a novel in this genre.