Review: Fever

Review: FeverFever by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden #2
Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR on February 21, 2012
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 341
Format: ARC
Source: Won

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 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.

What I Liked:
The writing, sort of. Lauren DeStefano has a very interesting, unique style that, while not precisely my thing, I can appreciate the merits of. Her writing will specifically appeal to those who appreciate a more poetic sort of style.

Rhine and Gabriel’s relationship is very awkward. They have no sort of chemistry and it becomes apparent when they run away together. If you shipped them, this will be a negative for you, but I thought it made a nice change from the typical instalove sort of scenario. Sometimes intense attractions are born solely from the stressful situation in which the character has found herself, like being sold to some guy she doesn’t know as a baby machine.

That’s pretty much it, but the book is also very readable, which is what led me to rate this book too highly initially. In adjusting to my own rating system, it took me some time to fully appreciate that just because I read a book quickly, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I liked it.

What Annoyed Me:
Fever suffers from some serious second book syndrome. Though the book moves along at a good pace and it’s not a slow read, the plot doesn’t really go anywhere. At the end of the book Rhine’s back where she started. It’s basically the difference between running outdoors and running on a treadmill. There’s just as much movement, but, in the latter instance, you’re not going anywhere.

gif dogs on treadmill


Of course, I love plenty of books that have plots that do not go anywhere and that don’t even have action, plots that sit in a cafe and watch the sunset, never moving at all. However, those books generally involve a lot of navel-gazing and growth within the main character. Rhine does not accomplish anything significant in her journey, nor does she mature emotionally. What she does do is spend most of the book drugged out of her mind and helpless.

What I Hated:
This series makes no goddamn sense as written. Lauren DeStefano has established a post-apocalyptic/dystopian horror of a future, wherein women are dying at 25 and men at 20 because of some craziness with genetic engineering. I can accept this. Women are being sold to rich men and raped and basically treated like chattel in an effort to keep the patriarchy and humankind going. I can accept this too. Fine. This is your world and I will roll with it. However, if you’re going to write a world like this, you have to be willing to follow through with the consequences and do shitty things to your female heroine, or have reasonable explanations for why she makes it through unharmed.

In Wither, Rhine is married off to Landen to have his babies. He wants her to fall for him, so he doesn’t force her to have sex with him, much to his father’s disappointment. A bit of a stretch, but I’m willing to believe this, since Landen’s a bit wimpy, he’s dealing with grief over his real wife’s death, and he has two other women to bone anyway. While he’s trying to wear her down, she’s making out with the cute servant, Gabriel. At the end of the book, they run off together, hoping to escape somewhere better.

Unsurprisingly, they don’t. They immediately wash up at a whore house, where they are forced to work. This is where I learned that Lauren DeStefano is the kind of author who writes on horror movie rules: heroines are pure and girls who have sex die. See the spoiler for more details: View Spoiler »

One response to “Review: Fever”

  1. Nori says:

    This sounds so good! I need this right now!

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