Cover Image: Foul is Fair

Foul is Fair

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Member Reviews

Just, wow. I didn't know I had been waiting for a book like this. Immediately grabbing your attention, go ahead and plan a solid reading session once you begin FOUL IS FAIR, because you're not going to want to stop. The language is beautiful, and the characters (dark as they are), are a breath of fresh air in YA. I have to imagine this manuscript will get adapted to screen and can't wait to see these characters come to life (even though they are already bursting off the page). Extra points for diversity (which is seamlessly integrated), and an unflinching group of young women.

Based on this book, I would gladly pick up any future novel by the author.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of FOUL IS FAIR by Hannah Capin in exchange for my honest review.

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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary e-copy of FOUL IS FAIR by Hannah Capin in exchange for my honest review.

TRIGGER WARNING - sexual assault, rape culture and attempted suicide

Four is Fair is the Macbeth on steroids, re-telling set in high school that will fuel your revenge fantasies.

It's stunning, empowering, and cinematic. Sharp, fast-paced, and gripping. It's like reading the murderer's side of a murder mystery, except you're cheering her on. Jade is fierce and unforgettable. Her story will sit with readers for a long time.

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First of all, I need to warn you: this book is not for everyone and the author has puts up a list of triggers warnings on her website to prevent readers from unnecessary exposure to materials they would not be comfortable with (such as abusive relationships, graphic depictions of murder and suicide attempt). This book also condones vigilante justice and revenge.
“A ritual, the same as getting ready for a party. The same as getting ready for a murder”
It is, in fact, dedicated to all the girls who want revenge, and I think it could represent a glint of hope for all of those who have not obtained it. My first reaction when finishing it was, this was a hell of a book. It leaves you alert, wide awake and strong. This book is obsessive and I could not stop to think about going back to it when I was not reading. It is a book that you open and immediately makes you feel safe. You’re no longer haunted or powerless, because, in these pages, you find power and weapons.
I also learned that this is a retelling of Macbeth. Since I’m not a Shakespeare connoisseur I cannot talk about the accuracy and the power of the retelling but I know that Lady Macbeth, just as Jade, crawls her way to the top leaving behind her a trail of bodies. I love how classics become the material to feminist reads and analysis of our society.
Foul is fair is the most unique and original book I’ve read in a long time. When Elle Jade Khanjara is raped at a party, her and her coven establish a deadly plan to make them pay. All of them. It is a wonderful tale about how justice fails the women in its society again and again and again until they take the matter in their own hands and solve it. Permanently.
The action takes place at the St Andrews prep high school where study the group of boys that Jade wants dead. She manages to infiltrate their daily lives, their school, their intimate circle. You can’t help but expect this to blow up to her face, but she won’t take no for an answer and she won’t back now. Jade is one of the most complex and fascinating characters of this year.
I loved Hannah Capin’s writing style. I adored it. I did not think you could publish a book with such prose: short, breath-taking, sharp, and relying heavily on metaphors. Foul Is Fair could show any dismissive readers who think that YA is not “true literature” that it can and is innovative in its format, its style, and specifically its themes. The story was not rushed and there really was a balance between introspective scenes and scene of actions. The plot in itself is not that complex since we follow the Path that Jade has carved for herself: taking the boys down one by one. You know what will open for most of the book but you can’t help this expectation, the satisfaction, the fear and the worries to submerge you.
“Tonight Jenny and Summer and Mads and me, we’re four sirens, like the ones in those stories. The ones who sing and make men die”
Sorority was one of my favorite aspect of this book. I loved how much her coven was there for her, through her ugly feelings, and her successes. Her group is constituted of a trans girl (there are transphobic aggressions but they are challenged) and of at least one sapphic girl. Girlhood is shared by half the earth population, it’s a major experience. It’s often hard and violent as much as it is good, securing and joyful. This girlhood, these traumas experienced by women in a patriarchal society, is what builds up a coven, a safety net for girls because they protect each other. We see on-page how girls have each other’s backs because no one but them will.
I often find crimes book or thriller hard to write because you must come up with the mastermind plans and the perfect execution. Killing is hard, and committing a crime without being suspected is not an easy task. Hannah Capin manages to write such perfect crimes, there is no place for improvisation and for failure. It is amazing.
It’s hard to describe all the reasons for which I love this book without spoiling it but let’s say that ruthless main characters are the best. Elle or “Jade” as she made herself called does not take a step back. She does not tone herself down. She manipulates, she plays and she takes what she wants. She is an ambiguous character because her actions are morally questionable and we, as humans, should not be the judge and the executioner at the same time but when you know the reality of our society, the more you read, the more you get it. You get it. You get why she is done waiting for someone to save her, why she is done with accepting her statute of victim.
I won’t be talking about the representation in this book since Jade is Indian and that I am not. However, her identity plays a very minimal role in this story. We could wonder why her skin color is the only thing making her Indian. Often, it is not enough of a representation.
One of my only regrets and the principal reason I’m not making this a 5-star review is that, maybe, I wanted more. More of Jade and her coven, more of their life, more of them. This book has definitely awakened something in me. An appetite.
“But bravery isn’t being fearless – it’s swallowing the fear and spitting it back out”
The climax of the book was a true surprise. It reminded me how much I empathized with Jade and her coven. In this book you are teeth and nails with the characters and they are the one making the strength of the book.
Overall, it is the perfect book for angry girls, for girls who are done with the patriarchy and the rape culture. In its essence, this book is an ode to vigilante justice through its prose and its multi-layered characters. I can’t wait for Capin’s future books (I also need to read her debut) because with this mastering of the prose intertwined with a strong sense of plot and characters development, she just became one of my auto-buy authors.

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I adored Hannah Capin’s debut and I was so excited to see what she would do next. Foul Is Fair is a clear departure from The Dead Queens Club but it is similar in that Capin is so good at using source material (Henry VIII then, Macbeth in this case) and transforming it into a completely new story amidst a new backdrop. Foul Is Fair is such a powerful, poignant read with incredible lyrical writing. (View the trigger warnings here and cw for rape mentions in this review.)

Now, I’ve never read Macbeth (I was in the class that read Othello), so I’m quite sure I missed a few things. I did look it up on Wikipedia, so I know the gist of it. Capin masterfully transforms this medieval play into a bold stance on sexual assault in the contemporary time. Jade is Lady Macbeth, Mack is Macbeth, Jade’s friends are the witches, and so on.

I do know the more popular quotes from the play, so it was exciting to read some of them here, such as “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” (obviously), “Look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under it,” and “What’s done cannot be undone.” There’s also a parallel of the “Stars, hide your fires” scene, which was brilliantly done.

Capin writes in a mix of straight prose and interspersed poetic lines, which adds a jaggedness to the tone, a dagger to the reader’s throat. I could perfectly picture this book as a film, specifically one of those camp teen indie flicks that are cult hits. Jade’s voice narrating, the interspersed lyrical lines as flashbacks, brief flashes of the night of that party, all of the imagery is so vivid. The writing creates a foggy atmosphere as we read Jade’s tangled thoughts; really, the only thing that is clear is this: revenge.

The short phrases of Jade’s thoughts evoke a rawness that gives way to revenge. Her rage is potent, and her schemes show that “just a girl” can mean so much more than what they expect of you. In taking her revenge, she takes back what the boys who raped her think they took, and then some. Foul Is Fair is potent in this way; much like Jade says, the boys didn’t make her something she wasn’t before. As the author signed my ARC, “All the power is yours,” Jade definitely took back the power.

I adored the female friendships in this book. Jade’s friends (Jenny, Summer, and Mads) would do anything for her, as Jade would for them. They support her as she sets out to do what she wants. I also liked how Jade’s parents also supported her, letting her know that they’re there for her without being overbearing.

There’s some casual representation in this story that I really liked. Jade is biracial (Indian and white) and Jenny is Korean-American. Summer is wlw and Mads is a trans girl.

Foul is Fair is such a powerful novel. This is a book about a victim becoming, a girl transforming into something more than what is expected of her. It tears down “boys will be boys” and quite literally destroys golden boys. It condones rape culture and sexism and tells girls: Take what they consider vulnerable about you and use it as a weapon. Become the one with the power. After all, all the power is yours. And when fair is foul, foul is fair.

**This review will be up on my blog Magical Reads on August 5, 2019.**

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First off, a huge thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for giving me the arc of this book to read. second, off I LOVED this book. This story was so satisfying, the writing was beautiful, and characters that were so refreshing to see.

God this writing was something . it sort of reminded me of free verse poetry, very good free verse. it’s descriptive without using too many words and never quite outright describes things. Albeit there were a few times where when the writing didn’t outright describe something or what was going it was a little confusing, but I don’t think I would I would want to change that. The writing style that Capin used made me feel so much with so few words and told a great story.

Said story was the perfect revenge story. Before I get into that though there are trigger warnings for rape which Capin also gives a warning about at the very beginning of the book. I really like how this book made me feel. It didn’t just make me feel empowered, but it gave me that savage corsage to fight back anyone who tried to assault me. To not just be a victim but a fighter as well.

Lastly, another thing that I really liked was how close Jade and her coven was and how ruthless they are. Jade, Summer, Jenny, and Mads are all a close-knit coven who have their fights but never let that tear them parts or get in the way of their goal. The family was so great to see too. Jades mother and father stood with when she wanted revenge just as Mads taught her how to fight for herself. They didn’t try to protect their children nor shield them from the truth that sexual voice is a real problem in this day in again. Instead, they helped them sharpen their claws and teeth.

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This was a 4 1/2 star read for me. One of the best I've read all year.

I had a hard time understanding the writing sometimes--I didn't quite know what was happening in certain scenes. But even still, this was one of the most haunting books I've read in a while. It might be one of the most haunting books I've ever read.

Not only was the imagery absolutely stunning, but Jade and her Coven were a force to be reckoned with. This book, like Jade, was absolutely ruthless. And I loved every second.

I will post a more robust review on Goodreads closer to the publication date as well as a post about this on my social media/Instagram.

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An extraordinary read tackling some heavy topics in a way that never feels gratuitous. Jade and her coven are fantastic anti-heroes. The plot is fast-paced. The writing is hauntingly lyrical. I cannot wait to booktalk this to my HS students!

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Poisonously delicious. This book shatters the readers idea of what a rape victim should be and empowers her to be strong, angry and vengeful. Jade is a heroine like no other.

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TRIGGER WARNING - sexual assault, rape culture and attempted suicide

A #metoo movement with fangs, this book is dark and witchy and full of revenge.

The night of Elle's sixteenth birthday was supposed to be sweet, but thanks to a group of boys at the party she crashed it was anything but. The next morning she chops off her hair, changes her name and swears to exact vengeance by killing them all. With her best friends (coven) by her side she makes a plan, transfers schools and begins her retaliation.

This is a fast paced paced and satisfying read. I absolutely loved it. It would make an excellent movie or tv show.

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I received this Arc for an honest review. I have to say that I did like the writing in this book it was beautiful I liked this book it was a three star read for me i liked that is has a lot of feminist qualities

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Whoa. I don't really know what to say about this book except for that it is everything. I loved it so much and I cannot wait for it to be out in the world. It's everything we deserve in 2020.

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Oh, five star books, why are you so few and far between? Foul is Fair lit me up from within, lending a much-needed spark, with its delicious depravity. Readers beware: this book is not for the faint of heart. Jade/Elle and her coven are vicious. Unlike the "Golden Boys" of St. Andrews, who are misogynistic-primitive in their violence, Jade is out for unbridled vengeance. And, luckily for us, Capin's writing is just as searing as her antiheroine, with words that cut to the bone. The weaving in of Shakespearean plotting, characterization, and language was like candy for me, elevating it, though I wouldn't say a comprehensive knowledge of the source material is at all necessary. What is necessary is an open mind and an affinity for wicked women. Capin's courageousness in pulling zero punches is admirable, as it would be all too easy to have constructed the story with more pacifism, so as not to potentially ostracize a wider demographic. Would I have been mad if Jade had made it her goal to ruin the offenders through other, less homicidal means? No. And it might have rang more true, as the story here isn't exactly believable. But the explosive, semi-surrealist element is part of what makes this so special. It leaves you shaking your head in disbelief, both at the violence she orchestrates, as well as how much you still manage to like her. Even in the midst of Jade's manipulation and killing, I found myself hopeful for her relationship with Mack, as if they really could wind up together, the king and queen of St. Andrews. In fact, my biggest complaint about the book has to do with the ending, and more specifically, the way things end between Jade and Mack. I don't want to give any spoilers-- although, we've read Macbeth. We know how it ends. But unlike Shakespeare's Mac, Capin's Mack is far more likable, and his relationship with Jade seems so genuine. Is there no room for apology?

Not in a tragedy.

I have to say, I'm shocked at how overwhelmingly positive the early reviews are, as I would've expected this to be polarizing at best, and unable to find its audience, at the worst. But alas, it appears feminist rage has been boiling under the surface for many more than I'd anticipated.

(Note: will post blog review on Sometimes Snarky closer to publication date)

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*Spoiler free*

I don't even know how to start this introduction. I knew this was a book about revenge. I knew it was about angry girls. I knew it was Shakespeare retelling of sorts. I knew it was going to be really different from what I normally read, but I really wanted to give it a shot. There is are a lot of themes and instances in this book that can be really trigging. The author has a detailed list on her website, which I will link here.

I wasn't expecting to fall so absolutely in love with this book. It's unforgiving. It doesn't let up at all. This is the kind of book that leaves you speechless. It's so absolutely beautifully written. I feel like I couldn't say anything about it that would do it justice. It's the kind of good that takes your breath away.

The writing. Wow. It's so incredibly amazing. It's fast and it flows at a breakneck pace. It's almost like poetry. There's so much imagery, it's almost like a story on its own. But it meshes with the reality so seamlessly that it creates such mindbending effect. It draws you in and allows you to experience the emotions on a new, more intense level. I haven't read this Shakespeare play, but I feel like I sort of felt Shakespeare vibes in the writing? I dunno, but it was cool!

I can't say too too much about the plot without spoiling. But I was so beautifully done. It's filled with anger and revenge and girls taking what they deserve. It's haunting and heartbreaking and it will stick with you. It's filled with blood and violence and carefully crafted plots of vengeance. I was surprised at how fast this book gets to the violence. It doesn't wait. It forges ahead with everything it has. It's like it's clamoring to get there, but it does it in such a meticulous and thought out way.

It was just really great to see female characters take no punches. They aren't ashamed. They own everything they're doing and everything will do. The aren't afraid to be angry. They aren't afraid to take what they want. Jade has so much emotion and she channels it into her plot.

This book isn't afraid to be exactly what it is. It's bloody and it was revenge. It's unapologetic. It doesn't even think of apologizing. It's written with such conviction and such bravery. It's such so very good. It's hard to find the words to explain how good it is and how it made me feel. Please, please, if you feel like you can handle it, read this book. It's so worth it.

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The writing was beautiful crafted. The best part of this novel with no doubt.

I did think that in 1 week she was able to manipulate someone into vomiting murder is quite a stretch. If if had taken a bit more of time I would find it more believable.
But other than that I didn't had any problem with this book.

3.5 starts

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***Thank you to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of FOUL IS FAIR by Hannah Capin in exchange for my honest review. ***

4.5 DELICIOUSLY DEVIOUS STARS

When wealthy boys gang rape Elle, she and her (metaphoric) coven of best friends devise a plan to make them pay. With their lives. Going by her middle name Jade she enrolls in their exclusive school with plans to taken them down literally by way of a boy she manipulates to do the killing.

FOUL IS FAIR is to literature what the movie HEATHERS was to cinema, campy, over-the-top dark fun. Revenge porn against rich boys who think toxic masculinity is their birth right.

FOUL IS FAIR works because Hannah Capin writes with such a strong voice that doesn’t quite take itself as seriously as it pretends. Capin knows her readers are smart enough to be in on the joke, that we’ve seen to many white athlete rapists given light sentences because they seem like good boys with promising futures and the girls, well, they shouldn’t have put themselves in a position to have made the boys rape them. FOUL IS FAIR is the anecdote to that culture.

My only reason for not giving 5 complete stars is that Jade’s parents are from India and aside from giving her an Indian sounding last name, Capin, who appears to be white, did nothing other than giving her brown skin to write her any different than a blue blooded pilgrim who came over on the Mayflower. When I white writer pens a POC main character, I think more needs to be done other than a name to check the diversity box. I’m not saying writers can’t pen other cultures just that I think they owe readers more than a name.

FOUL IS FAIR is listed as Book #1 and in already excited for Book #2.

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I loved this dark book with strong girls who take control of their lives. TW: When Elle is assaulted at a prep school party, she doesn’t run and hide. She gets her girls together to plan revenge. What a roller coaster of emotions I had while reading this. I appreciate NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to be an early reader. Be sure to add this one to your pre-order list.

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