Book Review: Foul Is Fair

Title: Foul Is Fair
Author: Hannah Capin
Date Published: February 18, 2020
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: November 22, 2020

Foul is Fair is a loose contemporary retelling of Hamletfollowing a sixteen-year-old young woman who enacts a brutal revenge after being gang raped at a party.

If I had to summarize this novel in a few words it would be witty, sharp, and a slap to the face. Foul is Fair’s gritty and atmospheric storytelling, smart writing, and ruthless characters were reminiscent of Tarantino’s film style, and if the director ever decided he wanted to adapt a young adult novel there is none more suited for him than this. That said, I think this is one of those books that will have a tougher time finding its audience because I do not think its writing style has mass appeal. But I personally was completely enamoured by the writing and it’s not often that I get the sense I’ve picked up the right book after reading only the first paragraph. Capin does rely on a repetitive type of narrative, something I don’t usually enjoy, but in this instance this stylistic choice had a sort of enchanting type effect that helped set the dark and creepy tone.

Luckily writing isn’t Foul is Fair’s only charm, as I found both setup and characters equally enthralling. Jade is tough, uncompromising, and everything I’ve ever wanted from a female assassin type character which feels weird to say because this isn’t an assassin fantasy novel. I really liked her lack of remorse and her ability to manipulate situations to her desired outcome. She was the perfect balance of sexy and badass without feeing overly sexualized. Her group of friends completed her image and really helped set the tone for her character. As for the side characters, they more or less fit certain expectations and while we didn’t get to know any of them super well, I don’t think that was ever the intention.

In terms of story, I do not think this novel is particularly realistic, but that isn’t something I expect from thrillers, so I don’t view that as a criticism. That the story ultimately played out the way I expected it to, with no plot twists being overly surprising, did not affect my overall enjoyment either as I enjoyed the journey more than the reveals. What I especially liked was how conflicted I felt about the events of the story. Jade’s game plan is horrifying and terrible, but at the same time I have a hard time sympathizing with her aggressors because they’re also horrible and without remorse. Also, I’m not particularly fond of Shakespeare, but I absolutely loved and appreciated the nods to the original story. I think they really helped set the tone of the novel, and I would recommend reading the original source material first as I think the experience is heightened for one who’s read the story prior. If I have an criticisms they mainly involve the ending of the novel, while it was by no means bad, I did think it was a bit messy and there were some aspects I could have gone without. 

CW: rape, murder, suicide

Have you read Foul Is Fair? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗


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