Friday, June 13, 2014

The Fever (Early Book Review)

Friday, June 13, 2014 1:13 AM with 16 comments

18656036

The Fever

Author: Megan Abbott
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Number of Pages: 320
Release Date: June 17, 2014

Synopsis from The Fever:

The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.

A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire, The Fever affirms Megan Abbot's reputation as "one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation" (Laura Lippman).


*****************************************************************
MY THOUGHTS:

I've been sitting on this review for the past few days because, frankly, I really just haven't wanted to write it. Don't you hate that? Sometimes reviews are so easy...and sometimes they are like pulling teeth.

I've seen The Fever billed as both a YA and an adult book. In my opinion, this book is definitely an adult novel, but because the focus is on a group of high school girls, those who usually read YA will probably feel comfortable with this one. It follows three members of the Nash family: father, Tom, who is a teacher at the high school where the action takes place; son, Eli, who is popular and well-liked with girls throwing themselves at him on a fairly regular basis; and daughter, Deenie, a teenage girl who is just trying to get through high school while dealing with the shit a high school girl has to deal with: boys, friends, school, etc. 

Deenie is shocked when her best friend, Lise, has a violent seizure in class at the beginning of the story. Soon Lise lying in a coma in the hospital, and other girls start to show physical and mental symptoms to some mysterious ailment that seems to only be affecting the girls in this small town. What is blame for this affliction? Is it the fenced-off lake that is so polluted it actually glows? Is it the HPV vaccine that was recently given to the girls in the town? Or is it something else--something otherworldly? 

I have to admit: I was very intrigued by this novel for the first, oh 90% of it. I had no idea what the cause was, but I certainly wanted to figure it out. I also have to admit that I was completely disappointed by the pay-off which dramatically changed how I felt about this book. 

This book does have several things going for it: the mystery is intriguing, the family dynamics are interesting, the hysteria of the parents as they try to figure out what is happening to their daughters is realistic, and the look at teenage girl life is spot-on. Abbott certainly understands "girl world". Throughout the book I found myself identifying with Abbott's view of the teenage girl. The shifting landscape of the Deenie and her group of girlfriends was so realistic. The friendships reminded me so much of my own high school life when alliances within my own group were constantly forming and reforming. Teenage girls, man, they can be a brutal bunch--as most of you know, I'm sure. 

This book is also very much about sexual awakening. The need to lose your virginity just because you are the last one. Deenie compares it to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None which is apropos and kind of hilarious. Eli is surprised when he gets explicit texts from girls only in their underwear, or by the brazenness of the girls who come to his house for one purpose.

Which brings me to my biggest pet peeve: the use of the word mouth over and over and over throughout the book: wet mouths, open mouths, dark mouths. Mouths, mouths, mouths. Ugh! It got to the point where I wished I would have counted. For real, this could be a new drinking game.

Overall and again, while I was so intrigued by the novel, by the end I was almost bitterly disappointed. The whole teenage girl aspect, as well as the look at small-town paranoia, the effects of divorce, the politics of friendship, etc were all very well-done, though, so the book isn't without its merits. Looking at the star-ratings on GR, I'm definitely in the minority, but it is hard for me to recommend something that was ultimately such a let-down for me. So I would take my opinion with a grain of salt and read a couple of reviews before deciding whether or not to give this one a try. 

Cannot recommend

*I received an advanced reader's copy of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.*

16 comments:

  1. Ugh...it was great until the last 10%? That totally sucks. But I still kind of read it just to play your proposed drinking game to see how shit-faced I get. :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Um, like stomach pumped, emergency room visit, why did I even attempt to play this game shit-faced...

      Delete
  2. Yeah, some reviews are really easy to write, and then there's the ones that you just don't know where to start. Since I'm usually reading two at a time, I try and get them done as soon as I'm finished so I can just move on, sometimes it doesn't happen. Ugh, great. I had high hopes for this. And it sounded like it was pretty good until that 10%, what a let down. Reading the whole book and then...no pay off. Glad it was realistic though, and reads realistically when it comes to the characters, but yeah. Mouth. I'd be drunk. New readers to it should do it, you won't remember what you read, but that might be a good thing. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You may still find it worth reading. I know that a lot of my friends on GR were giving it pretty high star-ratings, but, yeah, the pay-off just wasn't what I wanted it to be.

      Delete
  3. Hm, maybe I'll skip this one. I love dystopian lit, but not when it's got a bunch of sexual stuff and doesn't pay off in the end. The mouth thing is funny -- wouldn't that be something a good copy editor would notice right off the bat??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, the mouth thing is definitely intentional. It felt so intentional. This book is definitely mostly about sexual awakening--somewhat disguised, so if you don't like those types of stories, I would avoid.

      Delete
  4. Awww I'm sorry this one disappointed you. I'm torn on whether or not I should read this. On the one hand, I'm loving the cover and the synopsis. On the other, all of the negative reviews I'm seeing from my Goodreads friends are kinda making me wary of this one. I might still read it, but I definitely won't be going into this one with high expectations. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really? All my GR friends were seeming to love it, but usually really early reviews tend to be positive, so maybe now that more reviews are rolling in, the negative ones are popping up more. I hope you enjoy it if you do end up picking it up, but, yeah, I would lower your expectations a bit.

      Delete
  5. Reading 90% of a book before it is a total let down sounds super angry-making. At least books that are disappointing from page one are consistent. ;) Thanks for taking one for the team, Natalie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sabrina! Lol. I was all set to give this one a great review, but I was pretty annoyed by the end...

      Delete
  6. a very thoughtful review. I'm interested in reading it, and have it for review, but I've been hesitant to start it because it seems pretty intense. I hate it when an author uses one word or phrase too much. it sticks out and it's the only thing you can focus on for a while! (Had that problem with Goldfinch the other day. She uses the term "punch drunk" a few times and it drove me mad)
    I'll probably try to read it and I really like the cover. But I'm sorry you were disappointed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you enjoy it if you do pick it up! I know that a lot of my GR friends really liked it. It is pretty intense, though, as you say. I haven't read The Goldfinch--I'm scared of the commitment I would have to make to read that tomb, but I'm sure that phrase would really stick out to me now that I know. Lol.

      Delete
  7. I actually didn't even know that Megan Abbott had a new book out (I enjoyed Dare Me, but I didn't love it). Hmmm…after reading your review, I'm not sure. It sounds like maybe the big reveal was what was disappointing? I've seen that happen a lot in mysteries (or where there's some mystery in the book) where the set-up is done so well and you can't wait to find out what the reason is for X, or who did what, and then the answer is just...boring…or unsatisfying in some way (outside the walls in Divergent, for instance).

    Ok, I had to laugh at the And Then There Were None reference, that's hilarious, I agree.

    Sorry you were disappointed in this one, but great review! ~Pam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The And Then There Were None was great. A lot of the book was great, but I was just so disappointed by the pay-off. I haven't read Dare Me despite checking it out from the library no less than 5 times. It sounds like something I would enjoy, but I just can't seem to get past the third chapter. Thanks, Pam!

      Delete
  8. Aw, I'm so sorry this one didn't work out for you, Natalie! That's always such a disappointing thing to be more or less enjoying a book and then have it ruined by the ending. A lot of the issues it addresses sound interesting to me, but I am not sure I want to read it if I'm going to be thoroughly disappointed by the ending like you were.
    Still, this is such a thorough, informative review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Amanda. It's a toss-up for me about recommending this one. Some of the topics she tackles are so interesting and are well done, but the ending was just such a disappointment for me. I hope you like it if you do pick it up.

      Delete

Hello, there! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I read each and every one and will do my best to respond--usually on your blog instead of on mine. I will, however, always answer direct questions. Due to serious time restraints, this blog is now an award free zone, but I appreciate the thought!