Buy from Amazon • Buy from The Book Depository • Buy from Barnes & Noble • Published by Putnam Juvenile on July 24, 2012
Genres: YA Paranormal, YA Thriller
Source: print ARC from a swap
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 keep seeing the exact same issues in YA over and over again like I have been lately, I am going to put down the books for a little while and start making buttons in Photoshop. Typing out the same complaints over and over again gets old very quickly and if those buttons would create such a great shortcut for books like Cold Fury, whose problems I have all seen before and detailed my dislike of before. Negative portrayals of most women, spoilerific narrative choice, a badly developed heroine, and a slew of other issues made me happy to finish the book as quickly as I did.
On the bright side, I read this in a single day. Each chapter ends on a cliffhanger and it’s easy to keep turning the pages. Maybe it was a little easier for me because I was trapped on a six-hour road trip and I wanted to get Cold Fury finished, but it stands that it was good enough for me to take only one day to read.
If a character is female in this book and their name is not Sara Jane Rispoli (and if they are not her mother; absent as she is, her mom doesn’t get any characterization), they are almost certainly negatively portrayed. Uncle Buddy’s wife Greta: cardboard character who is controlling, mean, and the implied reason the feud between Uncle Buddy and his brother got worse. Mandi Fishbaum: cardboard character who calls Sara Jane a slut and whose friends (all girls) join in to make fun of her. Gina: gossip. The major antagonist is also female.
What is that supposed to accomplish? Is Sara Jane supposed to look better in comparison with every other woman in the book? It doesn’t work. It only makes me dislike the book more because that device is old and rather offensive to me. To be frank, Sara Jane could be genderswitched into a boy named Jack Rispoli and I would not know the difference. There is nothing authentically female about her voice or character.
Speaking of Sara Jane, I don’t like action movies. This book, down to the hollow lead character who doesn’t get any depth and just does what she needs to so the plot will advance and the lack of development, reminds me too much of the action movies that made me dislike the entire genre. Sara Jane had so many viable opportunities to show she has depth–a little bit of resentment toward her parents when she discovers how male children are prized over female children in Outfit families, for instance, because that’s perfectly understandable–but she never takes them. She lives and breathes and moves, but inside, there is nothing complex going on. She’s hollow.
Cold Fury has such an interesting, awesome storyline going on with the Chicago Outfit (better known as the mob), but the way in which it’s executed and its history is explained is so droll that it becomes less interesting and awesome as a result. We learn the history of the Outfit and each family’s place in it through pages and pages of infodumps by Sara Jane as she reads the notebook. I cared about what was being explained, but when delivered in such a dry way, I lost interest.
A few continuity issues range from mild, like when she first felt cold fury (we learn early on it happened during a boxing match; later, she says it happened after a girl called her a slut) to something more important like her birthday (her family’s disappearance and the Spring Dance in late April/early May fall on her birthday, but it’s an important detail that her birthday is November 23, 1996 because it opens an all-important suitcase). Because my copy was an ARC, I’d love for a friend with a finished copy to look through it and confirm whether or not those details are still there. If they aren’t, that’s fantastic and the continuity issues are nil. If they are still there, I may need to trim off another star.
My final complaint is the narrative choice. First-person past is what I prefer, but Sara Jane’s reflections on her past tend to dole out spoilers like a card dealer in a Las Vegas casino. Spoilers aren’t fun, especially when a book’s own narrator is doing the spoiling. Though the jacket copy tells readers her family is involved in the Outfit, she herself doesn’t learn this for at least half the book. Her reflections on the past make it so obvious what is about to happen or how important a moment is, but I don’t want her to tell me this. I want to discover it and/or figure it out myself! Annoyance at this device made me put the book down multiple times.
Cold Fury is the first in a trilogy, but I’m unsure whether or not I will come back for book two. Hints at a possible love triangle between Max, Sarah Jane, and Tyler, a seventeen-year-old CEO who is an Outfit kid just like Sarah Jane, are scaring me away. Sara Jane already claimed she may love Max even though they barely interact during the novel–classically bad insta-love–and that doesn’t give me much hope in any romance this series has to offer As I’ve learned, I really should stop saying never when it comes to sequels because sometimes, I break down and read them. This time, I’ll say “maybe.”