Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Review: Ferocity Summer by Alissa Grosso

Title: Ferocity Summer
Author: Alissa Grosso
Publisher: Flux Books
Release date: May 8th 2012
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: NetGalley - thank you to NetGalley and Flux for providing a free eGalley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Find out more: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads description:
It’s the hottest summer on record in New Jersey and soon Scilla Davis must stand trial for her involvement in a deadly speedboat accident. With the possibility of conviction looming, life seems empty, unreal, and utterly hopeless. Watching her best friend Willow destroy herself with drugs and booze is especially painful. Yet Scilla can’t manage to wrest Willow—or herself—from a path of self-destruction.
With a new drug called Ferocity sweeping the nation, an FBI agent is eager to make a bust. He offers Scilla a way out of this nightmare. But is she willing to betray her own drugdealing boyfriend?
First sentence:
The South burned.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I'm having a really hard time explaining what I thought of this book - it's dark and weird and has lots of elements I usually dislike, but somehow, it works.

Ferocity Summer turned out to be very, very different than I'd expected. I thought it would be mainly about Scilla's decision whether or not to rat out her friends but really, that just kind of happens - Scilla starts telling the FBI agent stuff about her friends, and sometimes she feels bad about it, but I wouldn't say that decision is really the main storyline. The novel is a lot darker than I'd thought - drugs and dealing, and Scilla's involvement in that, are more important than you can tell from the description.

I really dislike the description - it's too late now, but I think the best way to enjoy this book would be without knowing anything. I really liked the plot and finding out what happens, since the suspense is really well-done, but I think I would have liked even more not to know anything about what happened last summer and what the consequences for this year are. Finding out why Scilla's life is so messed up in the flow of the narration would have been a lot more suspenseful.

Scilla is not a likeable character. She makes bad decisions every chance she gets, and there were more than a few times where I found myself wanting to slap our main character. The narration is very unusual - again, I'm not sure how to explain it, but the word passive comes to mind. Scilla doesn't do much about her situation, she just kind of floats by, hoping things will somehow work out but at the same time knowing her life is totally messed up. I did not connect to Scilla or really feel for her. And normally, that would be a dealbreaker for me, since I have to relate to the MC in order to really enjoy the book. But in Ferocity Summer, it works. Scilla's way of thinking is fascinating - even when I was disturbed by what was happening or by how wrong everything was, I couldn't stop reading. I can't explain why it works, but it does. 

Most of the secondary characters are like that, too - none of them are people you'd like to meet in real life. With the exception of Bill, maybe, they're all... well, they're bad people. I know, that sounds stupid, but it's true - they're weird and icky and they make your skin crawl. None of the relationships are deep and pure or anything like that - they're all dysfunctional, and the characters are pretty much isolated, emotionally. But again, it somehow works. Even though they're bad people, I wanted them to get better, I wanted a happy ending, especially for Willow.  The characters aren't likeable, but they're definitely well-written and complex personalities.

I feel like I'm not doing a good job at all at explaining why I liked this book - maybe that's because I'm not really sure myself. The characters are not likeable, and the narrator just kind of floats through life, which normally would have been enough to make me put the book down. But it works. I don't know whether Ferocity Summer will work for everyone - I can see a lot of people being discouraged by the dark, pessimistic, almost hopeless view of life, and by the characters who are, let's face it, assholes, but it did work for me. Ferocity Summer is dark, unflinching and raw - horrifying but impossible to put down.

If you've read this book, what did you think?


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