Book Review: The Fever by Megan Abbott

Posted June 19, 2014 by Kara in book review / 1 Comment

Book Review: The Fever by Megan AbbottThe Fever by Megan Abbott
Published by Little Brown on June 17th, 2014
Genres: adult, mystery-thriller
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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 Abbott's reputation as

I’m just really not sure about this book, guys, or what I’m supposed to think about it.  I was first introduced to The Fever because Nova Ren Suma had been tweeting about it, and anything NRS touches is gold, right?  And after I read Dare Me, which I loved, I was even more excited.  And while this was still incredibly well written, it just didn’t have that magic from her previous book.

The Fever follows the Nash family – Tom, and his two kids, Eli and Deenie – as a mysterious illness sweeps the young girls of their small town high school, starting with Deenie’s two best friends, Lise and Gabby.  Wild speculation abounds, especially amongst the parents of these girls.   These hallucinations, seizures, panic attacks, muscular ticks – are they the result of the HPV vaccine the girls were forced to take? Or maybe some toxin from the strange, almost supernatural lake at the center of town?  Or is it something else entirely, maybe related to the girls’ sexual exploits or something from Deenie herself?

It’s easy to feel the mounting panic and we’re taken from POV to POV.  First to Deenie, who sees her friend Lise, patient zero, have a grand mal seizure during homeroom.  Then to Eli who has a strange relationship with all the girls involved.  Finally to Tom, who’s perspective I appreciated most of the three.  Maybe it’s because I normally read YA, or it’s just because of Abbott’s writing, but Tom’s passages were the ones I looked forward to the most.  His adult point of view, his ability to get behind the scenes and through the doors that Deenie and Eli couldn’t, provided much-needed revelations about the nature of this illness and the motivations of the other key players, like the hospital workers and the police.

However, there was a part in the middle where I thought I might DNF this book.  There was a LOT of talk about the HPV vaccine and how that might have been the cause of the strange seizures and other symptoms.  I don’t know how much you guys know about me, but, while I’m not a scientist by any means, I stand firmly on the side of “believing in science” when it comes to debates like global warming, evolution, and VACCINES.  I cannot adequately explain how angry I get when I hear of more and more parents putting their children and OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN in danger by not properly vaccinating.  My blood is seriously boiling just thinking about it.  And for a while, I thought this book was going to end up anti-vaccine and it made me sick to my stomach.  I am happy to report, though, that is thankfully not the message this book sends.  Now that I think about it, though, I’m not really sure what The Fever was trying to say.

Megan Abbott has a preternatural ability to unlock the teenage girl and spill her secrets all over the page.  I read mostly YA, and I have a teenage sister, so I spend a lot of time of time with that point of view.  But Abbott’s way of showing the more raw and unfinished teenage girl edge is a voice I love in fiction right now. The Fever was ambiguous, and many parts of it were too vague and strange for me, but this was a mystery whose culprit I did not see coming, writing that lush and descriptive, and so Abbott is an author I will continue to follow for a long time.


One response to “Book Review: The Fever by Megan Abbott

  1. Yep, I hear you. All that bleak, dreary, and honest stuff that goes through teenage minds that everyone glosses over. And the setting, how she conveyed all the emotions and panic. I liked this book so much, although I had some itty-bitty technical problems with what happens to that guy-you-know at the end. Eh, I just wondered how they could be sure about his results when they didn’t find in in you-know-whose.
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