Furiousby Jill Wolfson
We were only three angry high school girls, to begin with. Alix, the hot-tempered surfer chick; Stephanie, the tree-hugging activist; and me, Meg, the quiet foster kid, the one who never quite fit in. We hardly knew each other, but each of us nurtured a burning anger: at the jerks in our class, at our disappointing parents, at the whole flawed, unjust… See more details below
We were only three angry high school girls, to begin with. Alix, the hot-tempered surfer chick; Stephanie, the tree-hugging activist; and me, Meg, the quiet foster kid, the one who never quite fit in. We hardly knew each other, but each of us nurtured a burning anger: at the jerks in our class, at our disappointing parents, at the whole flawed, unjust world.
We were only three angry girls, simmering uselessly in our ocean-side California town, until one day a mysterious, beautiful classmate named Ambrosia taught us what else we could be: Powerful. Deadly. Furious.
Yes, that's us. The three Greek Furies, come to life, ready to take our revenge on everyone who deserves it. And who doesn't deserve it, really? We're done with chances. We are angry. The Furies have come to town.
Jill Wolfson's Furious is an enthralling retelling of Greek myth.
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By Jill Wolfson
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 2013 Jill Wolfson
All rights reserved.
When you've got an overbite and only one real friend and you're what grown-ups euphemistically call "a late bloomer" (meaning I'm short and skinny where I shouldn't be skinny and I just got my period), you pretty much accept that every day is bound to be a series of humiliations, large and small.
So given the sucky reality of being me, of being Meg, it's really something to say that in my almost sixteen years of living, despite my many episodes of blowing it big-time, this particular day turns out to be the most humiliating one of my life.
More humiliating than when I was five and going to scary kindergarten for the first time and had to be pried loose from my foster mom. I was screaming and got a bloody nose from freaking out, and all the other kids were just sitting there — cross-legged and staring.
More humiliating than finding out too late that an eighth-grade girl should never stand at the school entrance and hand out valentines to all 167 members of her class. Especially when the cards are personally signed and individually addressed.
Even more humiliating than last week, when I must have had a brain drain that erased everything I ever learned from my previous humiliations. That's the only explanation for how I could walk right up to this guy Brendon — this popular guy with adorable eye crinkles when he smiles — and blurt out that I had a two-for-one mini-golf coupon and maybe he might want to go with me sometime. I love mini-golf — I mean, who doesn't? But Eye Crinkles only stared at me blankly, like he'd never seen me before, even though we've been in a ton of classes together for the past three years.
And now his friends make pretend golf swings whenever I walk by.
So probably you're thinking, what could be more humiliating than that?
Hold on. It gets far worse.
A brief setting of the scene. Third period. 10th grade Western Civ, my favorite class this year, even though Ms. Pallas makes you work your butt off just for a B. All the usual characters are there. Our teacher is standing to the side of the room, arms crossed, listening to our first oral presentations of the semester. I am in my usual seat — not too close to the front, not way in the back either — right in the middle where it's easy to get lost in the pack. Next to me, my best friend, Raymond, is totally engrossed in whatever genius thing he's writing in his notebook.
In front of the class, one of the Double D twins, Dawn or DeeDee, is giving her presentation. Not to be mean or anything, but her report on ancient Sumerian civilization is crap. I'm just being truthful. I can't imagine that she put in any more than twenty minutes to plagiarize from Wikipedia. Doesn't she have any pride? Ms. Pallas won't let her get away with it.
Anyway, the thing I remember next is getting distracted by what's going on outside the window. This is taking place in a coastal town, a slice of surfer paradise wedged between the Pacific Ocean and a redwood forest. The geography here makes the weather unpredictable: sunny one minute, and then warm air hits cold ocean, which makes the fog roll in, and that's what happens right then. It's like the whole classroom gets whisked to a different place and a different day without anyone leaving their seat. Poof. It's gray, dreary, and Jane Eyre–ish, which is fine with me. I'm not exactly embracing life these days.
And I'm not going to lie. As I watch the weather change, I am trying very hard not to think about that guy with the eye crinkles who happens to be sitting a mere few seats to my right. Only, of course, my mind-control technique is backfiring. All I can do is think about him.
What's the matter with me? Wasn't living through that embarrassment once enough? Why do I keep replaying it? For about the two-millionth time, I put myself through every mortifying detail. The pounding heart. The sweaty palms. My own voice confessing my love of mini-golf. The condescending look on his face. The heat rising to my cheeks. My stuttering apology for bothering him.
How could I have been so stupid?
Could I have made a more pathetic cry for love?
Why did I pick such a popular guy?
What was I thinking?
Why do these embarrassing things always happen to me?
Why me? Why not to other people? Why not to him?
Just once, I say to myself. Why can't he feel what it's like? He should try being me for once. He should feel every aching throb of longing for me that I feel for him, and then get shot down.
I let that idea sink in very deep, and — I'm not going to lie about this either — it gives me a real charge, a jolt of pleasure, to think about getting back at him in some way. I decide to stay with my fantasy, go with it. I let myself get really worked up at him, then even angrier. Why not? Who am I hurting?
So while Dawn or DeeDee drones on, and outside the fog turns to rain — not drizzle rain, but rain rain that slaps the windows in sheets — I let myself hate that boy with all my might. I savor every sweet detail of revenge that my mind conjures up. I let it become real.
First he will come begging to me for a date. He'll be all shy and scared, and I'll listen as he fumbles his words.
Then ... and then ... I won't answer. I'll just wrap both of my hands around his neck and pull him close and kiss him. I'll kiss him so hard that he won't know what hit him.
This fantasy is so much fun. It feels so good that I have to stop myself from cackling out loud like a crazed chicken. I actually put my hand over my mouth. It's kind of scary how good it makes me feel, but scary in a very satisfying way.
And when he looks at me, dazed with love, I'll ask, "So, change your mind about mini-golf?"
He'll nod eagerly, hopefully, practically in pain with love for me, and I'll shoot him down. Bam! I'll yawn and say, "That was the most boring kiss ever. For you, Brendon, the mini-golf coupon has expired. Permanently."
In public. So everyone hears.
And after that ...
And after that?
I don't know what happens after that. I really don't. Something. I don't remember much, not a whole lot that makes sense, anyway. A light flashes and the air moves in a swirling distortion, like the whole world has suddenly tilted on its side.
And there's music. Definitely music. Who is playing music? Why is music playing? My mind latches on to the individual notes, a series of them that rise and fall in an eerie, whistling way. I don't know this song.
But then, I do know it. I do! I don't want it to ever go away.
Under the music, someone is laughing. And then someone else is shouting the word hate.
Hate! Hate! Hate!
A hand cups my shoulder, but I push it aside. There's so much power surging through me. Someone is pulling on the hem of my shirt. I slap at it.
"Meg!" Pause. "Meg!"
I hear a bell then, loud and sharp, and I tremble with a jolt, as if waking suddenly out of a dream when you have a 103-degree fever. The music is gone. An empty silence has taken over. Reluctantly, I blink open my eyes.
Not standing on the ground like your average, normal person, but standing on my chair.
In the middle of class. With my neck muscles straining and a layer of sweat on my forehead. And my throat dry and raw. And my fists clenched in tight balls at my side.
Ms. Pallas, directly in front of me, slams her ruler on my desk, and I feel the vibration ripple up through the bottom of my feet to my head. My brain feels like it's been punched in the gut.
It all becomes clear then, too clear, and the word humiliation doesn't begin to cover it.
It had been Raymond tugging on my shirt, calling my name. The bell was the end of class. And I was the one standing on my chair shouting, "Hate! Hate! Hate! I hate all of you."CHAPTER 2
"Meg-o-mania, what the hell was that about?"
That's what Raymond wants to know, and I can't blame him for pouncing on me as soon as I leave the classroom. While I was getting a stern talking-to from Ms. Pallas and promising her that an outburst like that will never happen again, and that I completely understand how Hunter High is a hate-free zone, and that words have consequences, and that shouting in class is definitely on the school's list of no-nos, and that in her class especially she won't tolerate that kind of ugly talk, Raymond waited patiently for me in the hallway. His long, thin body is slouched against a locker. I'm so happy and relieved to see him. I give him a sheepish smile and a weak shrug.
"Just a warning," I say.
He lets out a low whistle of relief. "Lucky. Pallas doesn't usually suffer from Pushover Teacher Syndrome. I figured you'd pull detention for that spontaneous outburst of misanthropy."
Classic Raymond vocabulary. According to Hunter High mythology, my best friend started talking in complete sentences when he was six months old and hasn't shut up since. That's not his only achievement. He's a whiz in math. He skipped fourth grade. He plays first violin in the school orchestra and composes his own music. Plus, he can speak pig Latin in Latin. He's by far the youngest, smartest, most accomplished person in our class, but also kind of an idiot.
His most recent form of self-amusement is saying things like "What I lack in maturity, I make up for in infantile behavior," followed by his enormous high-pitched laugh.
The truth is — and I'm not talking behind his back because Raymond would admit it himself — he drives most people up a wall. It's not polite to say this, and maybe my thinking it makes me an awful person, but I'm actually grateful that Raymond is so irritating. Otherwise he might not have been so desperate to have me as a friend when I met him three years ago. On the surface, I know that our friendship doesn't make much sense — the ethnically ambiguous, awkward girl who loves BLT sandwiches and happy romantic comedies who is inseparable from the big-brain gay kid who's a vegetarian and obsessed with horror films — the older the better, especially the campy black-and-white ones from the 1960s.
But it comes down to this: he and I click in a way that we've never clicked with anyone else before. We can tell each other anything. To Raymond, I'm not some shy dork who, when she does speak, always manages to say the wrong thing. I'm — get this! — smart, tolerant, funny, a deep thinker, a survivor, and a closet optimist.
And I think that he's the most unique person on the planet.
"Let's get out of here," I say. I glance around nervously to see who might have heard about my Western Civ breakdown. There's only a couple of freshmen hurrying to their next class, and none of them are staring or smirking. Raymond and I have study hall next period and can easily ditch that. With a quick pivot, I start walking down the corridor and he follows, not bothering to lower his voice. "Not so fast, Meg. You were dauntingly intimidating. Terrifying! You hate everyone? Speak!"
And say what?
I push through a set of double doors into a stairwell, and I'm so befuddled that I can't decide what to do next. Where was I going? Up? Down? My hands claw through my hair in frustration.
"Sit!" he orders, pressing on my shoulder.
I do. He joins me on the bottom step. "Deep breath in and out. Explain."
I swallow hard, shiver a little. How do I start? I can't explain it to myself. I just want to rub out the whole incident, make the collective memory of thirty-two students disappear. I don't want to think about every pair of eyes trained on me, some kids laughing so hard they had to put their heads on their desks, others dropping their eyes in embarrassment, like I just confessed in public that I masturbate every night. I don't want to think about how angry Ms. Pallas is at me and how Brendon — that boy with the crinkle eyes — turned so pale, like he somehow sensed that my hate was focused on him.
"Well?" Raymond asks again, and the question echoes in the empty stairwell.
I let my body cave in on itself, dropping my eyes to the floor, my voice a mumble, as if making myself smaller will make the whole subject disappear. "It was nothing. A blood sugar drop or something."
"Blood sugar?" His voice is loud and cracking.
I cobble together a few coherent sentences that I hope will satisfy him for at least right now. "I don't know what happened. I was thinking. It was ... slippage."
"From my brain."
His face lights up. "Oh! You mean brain slippage! Good old brain slippage. That explains everything."
Raymond sighs, not buying it for a second. "I'm not talking about the content of your impromptu confession — we'll come back to Meg's astounding moment of existential crisis in a minute. It was how you said it." He cups his hand into a megaphone. "Cue the zombie."
I shush him. His eyes search my face. I look away — at my feet, at my nails, at the square tiles of acoustical ceiling, at a big wad of bubble gum fossilized on the wall. But it's no use. Raymond has infinite patience for my avoidance techniques. He will wait in annoying silence until I spill every detail.
"Talking it through might help," I finally admit. Who else can I talk to about it, anyway? My understanding foster mom? My other friend? "Okay. But Raymond, don't you dare laugh."
"Why would I laugh?"
"'Cause you laugh at everything."
He makes a big drama of swiping a hand magician-style across his face, pretending to wipe away any trace of humor. "Totally serious." Pause. "Devoid of levity. You may proceed."
I force a calmness into my voice that I don't actually feel. "I know it was strange ..."
So much for calmness: I blurt everything, at least as much as I can remember, because it's all beginning to fade. "That's the best I can do, my explanation for being, you know, not like myself."
"Not yourself? You were positively Demon Girl — with a strong hint of Possessed Person." Raymond turns his body rigid, arms glued to his thighs. "I hhhhhhhate everyone."
"Well, I do!"
Only when I say the word hate right now, it's nothing like what I was feeling before. This hate is ordinary hate, like when you hate Brussels sprouts or PE. That other hate had weight and texture; it took up space and vibrated in my chest like a gong being struck. I try to explain.
"I don't hate you, Raymond! And not everyone all the time. But some people some of the time. Like Brendon — you know I hate him, but when I say that now, it's different than when I said it in class. That was hate hate. I don't ... I can't ..."
Raymond puts an open hand completely over my face, fingers spread, palm on my lips — "Interrupting starfish" — then removes it. He studies me. "This is serious. You're mega upset."
"It was horrible, Raymond. Humiliating! Everyone laughing at me. But before it was horrible, it was ..."
I stop short because I realize that I'm about to say something I'm not sure I want to say aloud. Because saying it aloud will make it real, and I'm not sure I want it to be real and I'm not sure that anyone should know this about me, not even my best friend who knows just about everything else.
"The truth? It's kind of ugly."
He puts his fingertips on his wrist, mock checks his pulse. "I took my vitamins today. I can handle it."
"Before. When I shouted 'I hate everyone.' It was fun — the best feeling I ever had in my life."
He looks puzzled. "You mean, letting it all out and saying what you felt? I get it. That can feel good."
"Yes! No! It was more than that. A power! The way it took over and took me away. I wanted to stay there."
He's still confused. "What took you over? Stay where?"
I realize how whacked that must sound. I don't have a clue about where there is or what I'm really trying to say, so I give a nervous giggle and pretend to make light of it. "So what do you think? Am I a complete raging psycho?"
Excerpted from Furious by Jill Wolfson. Copyright © 2013 Jill Wolfson. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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The Furies…How many of you are fascinated as I am with these three powerful woman who seek out vengeance upon those who have wronged individuals who were unable to fend for themselves? There was always something about the Furies that have piqued my interest. How they go on the hunt and instill their own justice upon the world. When I came across Furious by Jill Wolfson, I was ready to dive head first into a tale that promised to be full of power and judgment. Throw in the fact that it’s three high school girls who are basically social outcasts who become the “chosen ones” who will personify the Furies of mythological proportions. With that in mind, I was hoping that the vengeance that these girls craved would be full of pain and suffering towards their fellow classmates and adults who have wronged them. But instead, I find three girls who have a huge chip on their shoulders, and the way in which they started to make these people pay for their wrong doings starts off with a song. Something about that just didn’t sit well with me. Throw in the one who puts them all together, who goes by the name Ambrosia, who apparently is supposed to be a fellow high school student, but instead acts and speaks in a way that is not at all teen. I found myself having a difficult time believing that the kids at Hunter High would scramble to gain her affection and her notice. But what I did enjoy about Ambrosia, was her voice. Her voice was full of vengeance and wrath. You knew what her agenda was, and that she would stop at nothing to get what she wants. Her voice during the Stasimons in the book did exactly what it was supposed to do. It built up the story, and summarized what the true intent of the chapters that we read were about. The girls chosen to be the Furies, Meg, Stephanie, and Alix were not exactly what I thought would be “Fury material”. Sure, they have many that have wronged them and were treated unjust, but I felt like there was not enough anger in them to bring forth the wrath of the Furies. I went through most of the book hoping that I would see the power of the Furies, only to witness a mild comparison to the way other Furies from other books would show their power. It appears that the way in which the Furies portrayed in Furious is by messing with people’s minds. By burrowing deep into their inner psyche and showing their victims the way in which they treated others. It wasn’t until near the end of the book where the mind melt that they do (by their siren song) actually does some semblance of vengeance. Sadly, I wish that it was like this through most of the book. Perhaps the girls had to wean themselves into their new found power? I wanted the hate and fury that Ambrosia personified to be in the very girls that ensure that justice was brought. For those who have yet to read a book dealing with the Furies, Furious by Jill Wolfson may be the beginner book to ease you into their power. Although the power that is portrayed in the book is not as vicious as I had hoped it would be, it was still interesting to see the twist in the book where there are goddesses on earth and battling for power.
I have read my fair share of greek mythology centered around The Furies. I love Elizabeth Mile's The Fury trilogy but what is different about Furious is that it is told from the POV of one of the Furious, not the victims. That alone had me really curious to read it. For the most part Furious was a very entertaining and interesting read, the only downside is that the main character had a ton of flaws and the lack of a revenge plot. As with most of the greek mythologies I read, the protagonist doesn't initially know that her world is a greek mythology retelling, and this book is no exception. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with that. However my main problem was with the main protagonist's logic and actions as well as how the whole revenge plot was handled. Meg is a foster kid and her foster mother treated Meg like a slave, she treated her cat 100x better. I could totally understand Meg's anger towards her as well as all the previous pent up anger and hatred for life in general because of what she went through in the foster care system. However, I just wished we delved a bit more in her past, I did get the overall picture, but I just wanted to know more, to really sympathize and invest in Meg's wellbeing. Since this is based on The Furies, another two girls were introduced to complete the trio. The other two, Alix and Stephanie, we know very little about and also find out very little about in the end. There is also an additional character in this novel and it is Ambrosia. Ambrosia is like the manager of a sports team. She was actually the one that brought the three girls together and introduced them to each other. I was able to forget about the lack of character depth because I believed that was when things get good, which is through their revenge. Unfortunately, I have to say that their revenge was very bland and the same type of revenge was used for every single person they chose as their victim. This revenge scheme consisted of chanting a few songs while holding hands and making the target, i.e.: victim, start repenting and begging for forgiveness from the person/people he/she tormented/bullied/pried on. This happened every single time. The best part in the retelling of The Furies is the revenge. I was so disappointed.. I still expected something different every time they targeted someone else.. but that didn't happen. I have to point out that even with all these weaknesses I still enjoyed the novel. It was a very fun and fast read. I quite enjoyed how the trio's power and need for revenge turned them into such ugly souls, worse than the people they initially wanted to take revenge on. This book isn't perfect at all but it is a decent greek mythology, especially since a ton of research done by the girls is actually mentioned so you do learn a ton. The ending had a big showdown and while I don't believe everyone who deserved punishment got what they deserved, it was a fairly good ending. I would definitely recommend it to greek mythology fans who want a quick read and the retelling told from The Furies POV.
'Furious' is a young adult fantasy novel that spins a modern version of the Greek myth of the Furies - three goddesses who were born to bring justice to the world and avenge the wronged. In the book, our main characters - Alix, a surfer girl with a quick temper; Stephanie, a modern day hippie and activist; and Meg, the quiet and mistreated foster child - come together with the help of the beautiful and mysterious Ambrosia and embody the spirits of the Furies. With their powers fully awakened, the girls set out on a mission to right the wrongs that have been brought against them and to help those who can't help themselves. This was an inventive and unique take on the Furies myth from Greek mythology. I loved that the author made the Furies embody everyday social outcasts in high school - these are girls who most readers can relate to in some way, so we immediately feel their misery along with their triumphs. The Furies myth is truly fascinating and I loved reading about the history behind it that was woven into the book. Although modern retellings of mythology aren't anything new in this genre, the author gave a captivating inside look at this myth and was able to breathe new life into a somewhat overdone theme. I loved the characters in the book and was able to identify with each of the girls on some level, which had me sympathizing with them and rooting for each of them throughout the novel. The writing was exceptional and very well paced, which kept me eagerly turning the pages to see what would happen next. This is a fantastic modern take on an ancient myth and a novel that fans of YA fiction will definitely not want to miss! Highly recommended!! Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.