The Fury by Alexander Gordon Smith © 2013 Farrar Strauss Giroux
The sheer bulk of this novel overwhelmed me—681 pages! Anything over 400, I cry author ego run amok. So I delved in thinking I would probably never read it all.
I was wrong. It was pretty good. Some unfortunate English children are suddenly being brutally attacked by everyone around them, even their own parents, sometimes fatally. One who escapes the onslaught, Brick, hides out in an abandoned amusement park and pleads on the internet to anyone else suffering the same “fury” as he is. There are a handful of others, who soon join him. They hide together and plan how to survive. Two of them, Rilke and Schiller, may have ulterior motives.
Then, an unidentified maybe-corpse in police custody starts consuming London in a black hole inside his mouth. No, I’m not kidding. And the children hiding from the fury discover they are transforming into what appear to be angels with tremendous power, and they decide their purpose is to destroy the evil man-corpse-black hole that is destroying the world.
Ridiculous, you say? Of course it is, and it’s a lesson in good storytelling. Plot takes a back seat to characters. Plot may even ride in the trunk (boot, for you Brits). As long as you care about the characters in the struggle, the exact nature of the struggle isn’t so important. The children/angels battling the black hole while at the same time fighting among one another kept me turning pages, all 681 of them.
It could have been trimmed. A.G.S. held to the rule of three, pitting his children/angels into three battles with the black hole, when two would have been sufficient. And I could have used a better explanation (some explanation) why the “fury” existed in the first place. But A.G.S.’s command of character showed he is a very good writer. The Fury will reside on my permanent bookshelf when my daughters are done reading it.