Book Review: The Fever – Megan Abbott

fever

“You spend a long time waiting for life to start – her past year or two filled with all these firsts, everything new and terrifying and significant – and then it does start and you realise it isn’t what you’d expected, or asked for.” 

On a normal day in class Deenie’s best friend Lise has a seizure in the middle of class, at first while everyone is shocked, it is assumed that there is merely something wrong with Lise. When another girl has a seizure not much later shock becomes suspicion and fear. What is happening and why? As more and more girls become victims to a mystery illness a towns panic becomes world wide news. Is any girl safe?

I picked up this book because it sounded interesting a story of a mystery illness and girls being ‘betrayed by their bodies’ and wanted to see how it could be done. That and I’m a sucker for a good thriller, which Fever undoubtedly is. The story by focuses on Deenie, her brother Eli and father Tom. Each has an interesting view about the situation. While Deenie is both terrified and filled with guilt over her friends, Tom is trying to keep a level head as a teacher, while also worrying if his daughter is going to be next. I don’t really know why we see the whole thing through Eli’s perspective, possibly as a more outside perspective? I’m not sure what his viewpoint really does for the novel but it was a nice change from the typical teenage girl.

The novel is dark, creepy and eerie. I found that I didn’t want to but needed to keep reading. I loved the way that Abbott took something that could very well be true as the cause of the illness and manipulate it through media. This made the story feel a lot closer to home, especially for young women of my own age who could think about the what-ifs. The way that the hysteria spreads through media adds a lot to the plot and makes the reader even more curious and desperate to get to the end. The mention of Youtube videos and such were also telling, I don’t know of too many novels who have embraced modern technology in this type of story but Abbott has done so with ease.

While there were quite a few great things about the novel there were also some parts that irritated me. I wasn’t especially keen on the character of Deenie, I didn’t feel like she was someone I could relate too, nor did she really have much of a spark. She just kind of went with whatever was happening and was a little mopey, even in the flashbacks prior to the outbreak. It was because of this that there were points where the novel slowed down considerably, although this didn’t happen often, when it did it really dragged and I got a little frustrated wanting to skip pages.

I was also quite let down by the end of the novel, it felt like it was building up to such great suspense and then was a let down. I can’t go into too much detail without a potential spoiler but the fact that the ending only really delt with one side of the novel upset me. It kind of felt like there was no explanation. For a while I couldn’t decide if this was a great way to end it or not, to question our own beliefs but I really struggled with the sense of loss I felt not really knowing certain things at the end of the novel.

Overall I’m going to give this book 3 stars. While I did enjoy it I think that the ending would stop me from strongly recommending this to my friends. Abbott can clearly write and has a talent for suspense but at times this wavers and we are left with a slightly boring protagonist. A lot of people love this novel but, sadly, it just wasn’t for me.

Review by Chloe Metzger

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