Review Blog

Jan 23 2020

Foul is fair by Hannah Capin

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Penguin, 2020. ISBN: 9780241404973.
(Age: 16+) Highly recommended. Revenge - this is the name of the jet black hair dye that Elle chooses for her transformation into Jade, following the night of her sweet 16 birthday outing to the St Andrew's prep party, a party which changed her life, where she, bright, shimmering in her silver dress and full of party fun, found herself drugged by a spiked drink and gang raped by the school's best young lads. Author Capin spares us the details of that night, but the brief memory flashes that haunt Elle/Jade let us know enough of what happened.
Elle decides she is not a victim, she is not a survivor, she is an Avenger. She and her coven of loyal friends, Jenny, Summer and Mads, set out to exact that vengeance with the death of every boy that took part. And so Elle cuts and dyes her hair, and becomes Jade, the tough new girl at St Andrew's. These are the first couple of chapters of Capin's book. From there the action grips you by the throat and drags you into the spiral of events where Jade, cool and ruthlessly in control, targets each of her assailants one by one. A pawn in Jade's game is the honourable young Mack, a boy who was not part of the gang, but who becomes an easy target, someone who will do her bidding.
If you think the story sounds violent and gruesome, think about the plot of Macbeth, the Shakespearean play offered to senior secondary students. Capin's novel is another version of the Macbeth story; only it is not a mother driving her son to murder, but an equally driven girl able to manipulate Mack in just the same way. Her three friends are her coven, the witches, who chant and foretell the future and assist Jade in becoming the powerful queen of the St Andrew's peer group. There is no mercy, no kindness, no love, just a fierce determination for vengeance and power.
Capin's novel would make an interesting study in its reinterpretation of Shakespeare's play, an adaptation for modern times that is bound to capture the imagination of students with its setting of school peer groups, jealousy, bullying, and sexual assault.
Helen Eddy

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