The Scruffy Rube’s #CBR5 Review #13: Cold Fury

If you liked…or heck…if you tolerated this review, perhaps you’ll be interested in my opinions about other things: available now at my independent blog.

Cold Fury by T.M. Goglein has a clever premise for a young adult novel. Granted, clever premises for young adult lit are about a dime a dozen these days. Still give Goglein points for creativity, rather than having a teenager come of age by discovering they are some kind of wizard/demi-god/vampire groupie/werewolf/dystopian rebel, he keeps us rooted in the real world; a teenager comes of age by discovering tehy are some kind of mafiosa.

Sarah Jane Rispoli makes for an interesting heroine, blithely naive about her family life until her parents and brother are taken hostage, she must make her way through Chicago’s mean streets while dodging bullets and bullies.

Sadly the execution of Sarah’s story is disappointing. It starts with the fact that we need 200 pages of exposition before Sarah figures out what anyone even remotely familiar with mafia-movie tropes knows inside of 20 pages.

Squeezing the rest of the book into a slim 100 pages is more than a little aggravating as it forces the reader into a frenetic hodgepodge of action movie styles [chase-chase-chase, shoot-shoot-punch, show down, punch-punch-shoot, chase-chase,-chase, repeat]. Add in your run-of-the mill teenage drama and you have a funky casserole where gossiping girls, swooning over boys, battling bullies and general hormonal angst either seem insignificant to the near-death experience we just read, or make the action sequences supremely alienating for real people with real problems.

Finally there’s Goglein’s stubborn insistence on the concept of “cold fury”, taking a genuine emotional sensation that many people may find familiar, and belaboring to such a point that you want to see it put out of its misery more than you wanted to see Fredo put out of his misery. Adding to that frustration, the effort to turn “cold fury” into some kind of mystical power…as if brutal criminal enforcers ought to be wearing capes and masks too.

Hey…that could be a clever premise: a young high-school student discovers that they’ve secretly always been a crime-fighting criminal! Okay…maybe not…but until I find my own clever premise, I’ll hope that Goeglin and others try to find better ways to execute solid ideas.

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