Review: “Vengeance Bound” by Justina Ireland


13643222Title: “Vengeance Bound”

Author: Justina Ireland

Genre: YA, Fairy Retellings, Contemporary

Publication Date: April 2, 2013 (S&SFYR – North America)

Source: Edelweiss Review Copy

Summary: Cory Graff is not alone in her head. Bound to a deal of desperation made when she was a child, Cory’s mind houses the Furies—the hawk and the serpent—lingering always, waiting for her to satisfy their bloodlust. After escaping the asylum where she was trapped for years, Cory knows how to keep the Furies quiet. By day, she lives a normal life, but by night, she tracks down targets the Furies send her way. And she brings down Justice upon them.

Cory’s perfected her system of survival, but when she meets a mysterious boy named Niko at her new school, she can’t figure out how she feels about him. For the first time, the Furies are quiet in her head around a guy. But does this mean that Cory’s finally found someone who she can trust, or are there greater factors at work? As Cory’s mind becomes a battlefield, with the Furies fighting for control, Cory will have to put everything on the line to hold on to what she’s worked so hard to build.

☆: 3.5/5 stars – an awesome debut from Ireland, but leaves a few too many loose ends.

Review: This book is pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Goddess Test”, and I have to say, upon reflection, it really is a very good summary of this book. “Vengeance Bound” is the story of a girl possessed by the Furies, wanting to find their Third and become a true force of power in the world once again, and a girl who wants revenge on the man that helped destroy her life. And as engrossing as this book was, I feel like in the end, there were one too many loose ends not tied up, and questions unanswered. I usually don’t mind when the author leaves it to the reader to fill in the blanks by themselves, but these felt like continuity errors more than anything else. However, I do have to say that I did enjoy it quite a bit. If you’re looking for a Greek mythology retelling with a little more bite to it, definitely give “Vengeance Bound” a try.  There are some spoilers in this review, so you’ve been warned.

My biggest issue with this book: the continuity errors/consistency issues. We get a lot of information (Niko quieting down the furies, how Alekto escaped, why Goodhart wanted Cory/Amelie as his lab rat), but we don’t get much more than a few sentences in explanation (if that) in terms of a lot of this very important backstory. A few little tiny infodumps, and that was it – and it was really inadequate in terms of the backstory part of worldbuilding. Ireland needed to integrate backstory a little bit more into her worldbuilding, though I will say she did a really good job creating her world even without much backstory for the audience to go on. It was quite absorbing, so I can’t completely knock her down there.

There’s also a pretty big medical error in the ARC version I read, and it made me cringe: the issue of “multiple personality disorder”. I really, really hope that the author did her final checks before this went to pub, because MPD no longer exists. As of the DSM-IV manual (second or third edition, I think), it’s now called DID – disassociative identity disorder. As for Goodhart wanting Amelie because he thought the Furies were other identities she had and getting money from drug companies to treat her/them…as far as I know, that too is a bit outdated as DID is now mainly being researched with less medication and more with brain mapping – specifically, regions in the brain where neurons that help cause DID are known to misbehave. I feel like since this is such a large part of the book in terms of Cory/Amelie questioning her sanity when her grip on the Furies is starting to slip AND with Goodhart on the run (as well as his motives), more research on Ireland’s part really should have been warranted or at least explained. DID doesn’t really manifest itself in patients much before their twenties, either, so I felt like that needed to be talked about a little, too. Or something – more than what we got. DID is a really complicated disorder, and Ireland did it more than a bit of an injustice here as using it as a plot device, and even though I don’t have this diagnosis, I do have a family friend and a friend who do, and they’ve suffered quite a bit.

For that big mistake alone, one half star gets knocked off.

The rest, though? The rest was awesome. Much like Dexter has his Dark Passenger, Cory/Amelie had her Furies, and it felt very much like Dexter for the YA set in the serial killer area alone. He too loses power over his Dark Passenger – in fact, there’s a whole book dedicated to it in the book series alone, as well as all of season 6 in the TV series. I saw a LOT of Dexter in Amelie, and it felt like a good tribute, all mistakes and loose ends aside, and that made me happy. More over, throwing the Furies into the mix was a great idea, and the idea that they could get corrupt from their own power was a fantastic one to work off of – abusing the privilege of using Amelie as their vessel by taking off with her body, for example, was one of my favorite parts. It really gives them more shape as characters within Greek myth, and one that only one other YA book so far that’s based around the Furies has talked about (Jill Wolfson’s “Furious”). However, I did feel like Alekto wasn’t as well-crafted as the other two Furies, and that was a bit disappointing. There was plenty of room to give Alekto more shape than just a scolding ex-Fury trying to save girls from her fate.
The character building in general was more or less okay, but I feel like it needed another draft to fully flesh out some of the more important main cast characters like Alekto and later, Niko. None of the guys get much character development here, but seeing aside from Niko that they don’t get much face time, I was okay with that. But as Niko becomes the main love interest and the main way for Cory/Amelie to help keep the Furies under control – well, character building on his part is pretty important. However, Ireland manages to save this character by NOT making it insta-love, thankfully, and has an ending that was surprisingly light, but not exactly a standard HEA. Which I was happy with. Regarding that non-standard HEA – I can easily see another book with Mindi as the protagonist. I won’t say anything further there because of spoilers. But Niko? He felt very filmsy at times, just propping up Cory/Amelie when she needed the Furies to shut up. Which was more of an editing issue – one more draft could have helped develop him a bit better.

I will say that Ireland is quite gifted in the sensory language area, and I feel like that’s where she excelled the most, along with pacing. The pacing was good and even, and though there were areas where I wanted to linger and get a little more backstory where I felt it was insufficient, the consistency of the pacing overall won out over those times I did want to linger. Ireland did the best in these two areas, followed by worldbuilding, and then character building (if I had to rank them).

Final verdict? While there was one big mistake and a few other areas that badly needed another draft, “Vengeance Bound” was a really good read, one I’d recommend for the YA set that enjoys books like the Dexter series. “Vengeance Bound” is out now from Simon and Schuster in North America, so be sure to check it out once you get the chance!

One thought on “Review: “Vengeance Bound” by Justina Ireland

  1. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves: Week 48 | birth of a new witch.

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