Today I am reviewing Fear and Fury by Jamie Jackson. This one has been on my list for far too long, and I’m so glad that I got to it because this book was tremendously fun to read.
Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
Meet Megaera, Meg for short. She’s like Deadpool, except for funner.
For a girl with the power of fear the recruitment attempts from both sides are never-ending. A self-described not-a-hero, villain-leaning humanoid, Meg just wants to live her life, work her dead-end job and have everyone else (especially the heroes) leave her alone. But when a bigger fish who can turn superpowers back on their users enters the picture and threatens the person Meg loves the most (herself), she must turn to the last group of people she would admit she needs help from.
Forced to team up with the heroes she despises (but won’t murder, because let’s face it, orange is not the new black), Meg will have to face the choices from her past that she won’t get therapy for. Self-centered, snarky, sarcastic and a little bit dramatic, she’s going to have to save the world, even if that wasn’t her intention. And try not to get shot in the process. Because that shit hurts.
We live in a time where media is full of superheroes. We’re treated to many iterations of the hero – reluctant, fated, circumstantial and those that choose to use their powers for good – and we have the flipside of the coin with antiheroes and then outright villains. I love superheroes and villains (I may not support their cause, but give me a good villain any day and I am a happy bean). It’s also easy to get lost in the crowd, in the stereotypes and the expectations of what superheroes are about. However, Fear and Fury does not get lost in the crowd and brings a wonderfully fresh twist on the genre.
‘I don’t pull that shit with the heroes though. Villains don’t really care about you killing other villains. Less competition, blah, blah, blah. Heroes, though, you kill one it’s like stepping on a fire ant hill. The rest of them will come boiling out to bite and sting you, and they are relentless.’
Meg doesn’t want to be a hero…or a villain for that matter. It’s too dangerous and too much work, and you know what? That is both fair and a refreshing take on having powers that set you apart. Often the ‘hero’ or ‘villain’ persona and goals seem to dominate most of a person’s personality and life, but not here. Meg has her powers, and the troubles and sometimes benefits that come with them – she also has a life. It might not be the most exciting (although gods if there was anything to make her relatable it was her attitude to life working in retail customer service!), but it’s hers, it’s real and it’s grounded and it makes Meg – this powerful (although not bulletproof) woman so wonderfully human and complex, and it sets Fear and Fury apart. It’s also interesting to see both sides trying to actively recruit an individual, even if some of their methods lead a lot to be desired.
I will be honest, as much as I ended up loving this one it did take me a couple of attempts to get into this one, and part of that I think was coming to grips with Meg’s POV – first person is one that I always take a little while to adjust to, and being directly addressed by her and her caustic tongue added to that. However, there was something refreshingly blunt and honest about her from the beginning that made me keep coming back, and that perseverance was more than worth it though because Meg is an absolutely fantastic character. I ended up loving her snark – and more than once I laughed out loud at the things she came out with, whether in the privacy of her thoughts or in conversation with others.
She is also a wonderfully nuanced character. Jackson has nailed the snark and wit, but while sometimes it can be a distraction from what’s underneath – deliberate or otherwise – as the book progressed, we also get to see the layers pulled aside, revealing a softer side with old wounds, and new vulnerabilities exposed. Yet she always remains true to herself throughout, even as she is forced to sacrifice some of herself in order to stay alive, she remains the same tangled, human mess wrapped in snark until the very end which was incredibly important.
In comparison, I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of Greg, although I did like how his powers directly impacted his life – having to be careful not to break things and his concern about causing harm to those around him. However, while I might not have connected with him on the same level as I did with Meg, I found myself really enjoying their relationship – it was messy, with both of them bringing baggage to the table, and it was a lot about learning how to communicate. Virgil on the other hand, I loved from the moment we met him. He had some great banter with Meg, and I thoroughly enjoyed their conversations – and his heckling of Greg, and again he was another interesting play on superheroes.
Fear and Fury is a fairly short book, and it packs one hell of a punch in those pages and therefore the pacing reflects this. It hits the ground running and doesn’t stop, although Jackson does give us some quieter moments, particularly between Meg and Greg. However, what keeps it grounded is that first-person POV which keeps the story grounded in Meg, and makes for a more personal story in what has the potential to be a much wider setting. It must also be noted that this book does not shy away from darker moments, and a healthy (or unhealthy depending on where you’re standing) helping of blood and gore, and flashes of violence. Yet this is balanced with the sarcasm and humour, and it makes for a wonderfully gripping book that once I got over my initial hump with the POV I devoured in one sitting.
This is a wonderful, unique spin on the superhero story, with a truly memorable and relatable protagonist. If you want a quick read with one hell of a punch then this is the one for you.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.
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