26 March 2012

Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Title: Fever (The Chemical Garden Trilogy #2)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publication Date: 21 February 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BYR
Source: Library
Summary (courtesy of goodreads.com):
Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion...by any means necessary.
Fever begins almost immediately where Wither left off.  There's no back story, reminding us what happened in the last novel.  On one hand, this is nice, because I hate having to spend time reading about things that I already know happened, when all I really want is for the new story to start.  On the other hand, I read Wither more than six months ago, and the details were a little hazy, so I was kind of confused.  Luckily, Lauren DeStefano inserted subtle reminders into Rhine's narration - glances of things that happened at the mansion - that helped pull the details out from the back of my mind.  So even though I was worried I would get lost in my confusion, it didn't end up being an issue at all.

Shortly after their escape, Rhine and Gabriel find themselves trapped at the World's Creepiest Carnival, ever.  As I read through this portion of the book, particularly any scene involving the nefarious Madame, I frequently found myself shuddering at the horrid things that were being described.  I also found myself yelling at the book.  "NO RHINE! DON'T GET ON THE FERRIS WHEEL WITH HER!  DON'T!"  Because I never would.  *shudder*

Much of Fever is spent following the characters on their journey from Point A to Point B.  A lot of times, this type of story can go horribly wrong in either one of two ways:

  1. An author tries to make up for the fact that the characters are going a-traveling by inserting horrible, no good, very bad things every time they turn a corner.  They never get a good night's sleep or a full days journey and eventually, it becomes exhausting - for the characters and the reader.
  2. An author tries to draw out every detail of every step of the journey.  We get to hear about it every time someone takes a sip from their canteen, or eats an apple.  Nothing actually happens but walking (or driving, or sleeping, or apple-eating).  And this action is described with a level of intricacy that is completely unnecessary.  This is also exhausting, in an entirely different way.

I thought DeStefano did a good job of mixing traveling time with OH NO HORRIBLE THINGS ARE HAPPENING time, with a lot of useful introspection from Rhine thrown in to keep the times nothing was happening interesting and accessible to the reader.  I didn't have to hear about what color Gabriel's socks were, and there wasn't a bad guy around every corner.  It was a nice balance.

By far the best part of this novel, for me, was the last hundred-or-so pages.  This is when I stopped going to the bathroom playing on the internet and just read.  This is what kept me up until five in the morning to finish.  It's very much like a dystopian version of The Yellow Wallpaper.  I hope that's not giving too much away, and I'll just sum this point up by saying that these pages were flipping amazing.

Also, HOLY CLIFFHANGER.  I sincerely hope the world does not end this year, because I don't want to die not knowing what happens.



  1. Great review. I'm just a couple of pages into Wither, but have Fever lined up to start right after. I hate when journeys turn epic because socks get described - they were nice and dry and comforting, oh no they are now wet and soggy and likely to precipitate toe fungi or most tragically - they develop a whole and the ancient art of darning died in the last civil war ;-) With 4.5 hearts this sounds nearly perfect :-)

  2. I really wasn't sure if I was going to bother with Fever... I didn't enjoy Wither as much as everyone else but you've given it such a good rating, I might just have to try!

  3. Fabulous review! I actually wasn't a big fan of Fever, particularly because of the insert horrible things at ever corner element. But you did a great job of capturing the book.


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