Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 288 pages
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Source: ARC from author
Sara Jane Rispoli is a normal sixteen-year-old coping with school and a budding romance—until her parents and brother are kidnapped and she discovers her family is deeply embedded in the Chicago Outfit (aka the mob).
Now on the run from a masked assassin, rogue cops and her turncoat uncle, Sara Jane is chased and attacked at every turn, fighting back with cold fury as she searches for her family. It's a quest that takes her through concealed doors and forgotten speakeasies—a city hiding in plain sight. Though armed with a .45 and 96K in cash, an old tattered notebook might be her best defense—hidden in its pages the secret to "ultimate power." It's why she's being pursued, why her family was taken, and could be the key to saving all of their lives. —Goodreads
As always, I’ll give it to y'all straight. Despite the enticing synopsis describing Cold Fury as Jason Bourne meets The Sopranos, this book ain’t all that and a bag of chips. In actuality, it’s just a bag of chips—the kind that appears to be stuffed with yummy goodness, but once opened reveals itself to be filled with a whole lot of air…not to mention false promise & crushing disappointment. That’s not to say that Cold Fury didn’t have some goodness inside of it because it did, but there was just not enough of that goodness to offset the book’s multiple missteps & shortcomings and to make it a satisfying read.
One of the things I did like about Cold Fury was its heroine, Sara Jane. Despite her over-the-top (and at times frustrating) tendency to want to handle practically every single conflict by beating it into whimpering submission, the girl was brave, smart, resilient, determined, loyal, and easy to relate to as well as like. Moreover, I enjoyed being inside of Sara’s head, seeing the story unfold through her POV, because (more often than not) she had a lot of insightful & amusing observations about the world & people around her.
Another thing that I enjoyed was the writing…well, except for the bits that had the characters conversing with each other (but I’ll get to that shortly). What I liked about the writing was its wittiness and its humor, which were often subtle & surprising and quite well-timed & incorporated into the narrative. The writing was also engagingly descriptive. Unfortunately, it fell incredibly short in regards to the dialogue. Man oh man, that was some incredibly cheesy & clichéd dialogue, and it kept alternating between being laughably exaggerated & painfully wooden. It was also frequently shallow.
Speaking of things that were cheesy & clichéd, the supporting characters seemed more like caricatures than realistic people, especially the bad guys. All of the characters aside from Sara Jane were one-note and very underdeveloped. They each had one (maybe two) overblown character traits that defined who they were and what role they played in the story and not much else. For example, there was the batshit crazy ski mask guy, the sleazy shifty uncle, the Mr. Miyagi-like mentor, the perfect boy-next-door love interest with zero personality, the genius wise-before-his-time little brother, the nerdy overweight best friend turned sidekick, etc. Truthfully, I could not stop cringing and rolling my eyes whenever these characters came on the scene. They were just too silly, boring, and completely uninspired.
On top of all of that, despite the sizable dose of fast-paced action that was injected into the second half of the book, the strong potential for suspense & excitement was shot to hell by way too much predictability & unbelievable convenience. Whenever the heroine was in any kind of trouble or was faced with an obstacle, a solution manifested itself almost immediately right out of thin air. And the solution was often implausible to the point of being absurd.
Finally, I will refrain from going off on a rant, but I do have to say that I found myself more than a little disappointed & bothered by the way the very serious issues of bullying and teen suicide were addressed & handled in this book.