Fever by Lauren DeStefano
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden Trilogy #2
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Dates Read: February 23-25, 2012
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.
In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price – now that she has more to lose than ever.
“Things will get worse before they get better. A little more agony before the fever will break.”
I believe this quote to be an accurate assessment and theme of this novel. Fever has left me with conflicting thoughts. I wanted to like it, I generally did like it, but I didn’t much like much of what happened in the book. How does this make sense? Well, I’ll try to explain the best I can without many spoilers.
Fever is a darker, grittier, more troubled look at the dystopian world of The Chemical Garden Trilogy (although I still feel like we know very little about this world). From the very outset, it is unyieldingly bleak. Fever picks up right where Wither left off, with Rhine and Gabriel’s escape. But there is no rest for the wicked, and no chance for happiness between the couple before events take a turn down an even darker path. Rhine’s escape into “freedom” brings with it the dangers of a hopeless world full of immoral individuals, prostitution, drugs, people who sell and buy flesh alike.
Rhine is left reeling with the consequences of her decisions to bring herself and Gabriel out into this harsh world. However, I feel like she is never touched by the events as much as she should be. Nothing she encounters seems to affect her deeply enough for me to connect with her character. Her obsession with the material luxuries she left behind rubbed me the wrong way. I understand her concerns that she left such a luxorious world for such a gritty one, but every subsequent time she brought up that white sweater, I wanted to slap her silly. It seemed to me like she cared about the things she lost than the people and situations around her.
Most of the meat of the book happened towards the end, as Fever sets us up for the final installment of the trilogy. When you have about 20 pages left, you’re not sure how it is going to possibly come to a satisfying end. However, the great cliffhanger DeStefano leaves us with leaves me wanting for the last novel.
Overall, I would recommend this to fans of Wither. It’s a different speed of novel, and not a whole lot actually happens in it (a condition I call “middle book syndrome”), but it is interesting all the same. I think you’ll want to read this installment and the next if for no other reason than to see how it ends.