Friday, February 28, 2020

Foul is Fair, or, Just Read Macbeth Instead


Foul is Fair

by Hannah Capin

Pages: 336
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: February 18th, 2020

Cover Comments: Not a huge fan of this cover. I don't know what they're going for here. The paperback cover on Amazon is much better for me.

First Lines: 
"Sweet sixteen is when the claws come out.

               GoodreadsδΈ¨ Amazon
Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.


I really wanted to like this book. A novel about a girl taking revenge against her assaulters, inspired by Macbeth sounds utterly engrossing. And it definitely should have been. The storyline itself is interesting, and if I were to describe the way the novel unfolds from beginning to end to a friend, it would sound incredibly intriguing, thrilling, and interesting. However, reading the book itself was a slog and the well-crafted plot couldn’t make up for the so-so writing and lack of characterization.

I get the writing style that the author was going for here - sparse and startling, without much description or dwelling on the thoughts and emotions of the characters. I’ve seen this style pulled off well before, but it just didn’t work for me for this book. There were phrases and sentences that stuck out to me as being very striking and well-written, but it felt like there was no flow to the writing, just short staccato bursts of dialogue and bare-bones descriptions.

My biggest gripe with Foul is Fair and the one-dimensional characters. Every character in this book could be described with two adjectives, and it would cover their character from beginning to end. Jade/Elle is vengeful and sharp-edged. Mack is sweet but complacent with his friends’ crimes. Jade’s four friends (Mads, Jenny, Summer and Lilia) are completely interchangeable. There is no growth or development, even in the case of one character who theoretically underwent a huge transformation. I could get over the fact that none of these characters would exist in the real world, but at least make them fully-formed in this revenge fantasy setting.

Lastly, there are a couple things I didn't care for in the way the book handles sexual assault/rape. First, the crime is never reported, even though Jade tells her parents. Second, Jade looks down on the therapy that's offered after her assault, deeming it for the weak. Lastly, the phrase "they picked the wrong girl" is a refrain in this book, and it rubs me the wrong way. It gives me the sense that Jade is shaming other victims of sexual assault that didn't murder their assaulters.

All that being said, if you’re just in the mood for a manically plotted revenge fantasy and don’t give a hoot about well-crafted characterization, feel free to enjoy this wild ride. I've also heard good things about the authors' debut book, The Dead Queens Club.

*Thanks to Wednesday Books and the author for the chance to read Foul is Fair before its publication date, and participate in the blog tour.

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