Parents' Guide to

Foul Is Fair

By Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Dark, violent revenge tale is a teen update of "Macbeth."

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This over-the-top revenge tale starts out intense and juicy but gets bogged down by its melodramatic style. The loosely Macbeth-based action and plot of Foul Is Fair requires readers to suspend their disbelief throughout the story, but author Hannah Capin provides an insightful look at the ways privileged men get away with terrible acts -- in this case, rape -- and how they're abetted by associates and institutions who look the other way in order to preserve their own status and standing. After she is assaulted, Jade becomes single-minded in her quest for violent, murderous revenge.

Over the course of the book, it becomes clear that Jade and her friends are sociopaths, which makes it hard to relate to them, even though their rage and drive for vengeance are well founded. In fact, pretty much all the characters are horrible people and one-dimensional. It's not necessary for books to have likable characters, but few of these characters and their actions are relatable in any way, making it hard to engage with the story. And for a book that takes place over two weeks and jumps right into the action, the pace is plodding at times. This is due mostly to the repetitive nature of the writing, especially the dialogue, which is overly dramatic and unnatural to the point of being tedious. Capin occasionally provides a realistic glimpse of the deep trauma Jade's dealing with, but those few scenes only serve to highlight how over-the-top the rest of the story is.

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