By Megan Abbott
My Rating: 4 Stars
I received this book from Little, Brown and Company via NetGalley as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The Fever is a story about a small town, and those who living in it’s boundaries. In it, we meet the Nash family. Deenie, a sixteen year old student, her brother Eli, a handsome senior who plays hockey, and their Dad, Tom, a divorce, who teaches at his children’s school. Together they are trying to maneuver through life and all of it’s highs and lows. As they struggle to make peace with their circumstances and to move forward with their lives, Deenie’s closest girlfriends become afflicted with an unknown and mysterious contagion. As more teen girls become infected with the strange illness, the town goes into panic mode, trying to understand what is happening in their small town. And all too quickly a quiet town becomes a place of panic, hate and malice. Blame is going to be placed; it’s just a matter of time and who.
As their sleepy town goes from peaceful to threatening, Deenie, Eli and Tom struggle to find some answers. As each of the Nash family members gets closer to the truth, they will learn things about those they call friends, their family members and themselves that they never thought possible. In the end, they must come to terms with the events that unraveled in their small community, they must learn to move past people’s faults and learn to live for themselves.
Wow, what a strange little book. It’s both terrifying and mesmerizing at the same time. I spent a large portion of this book feeling like something was slightly off kilter in this town. I couldn’t quite place what was strange but I knew none the less. As the story unfolds and you learn more and more about what is happening your anxiety increases as you sense the danger, though it’s cleverly hidden. When it’s finally revealed, you don’t get a true sense of relief, but rather a impending sense of doom. And as the book concludes, you never quite feel safe. The world seems more distant and ominous than it did before. But that, I believe, is the point.
The bulk of this book focuses on the lives of teenage girls. And boy, does Abbott do an amazing job of depicting teen girls today and how their lives are led. But she also, shows you teen girls from the perspective of a parent, a brother and a teacher. These last three are important in this book and you definitely get a sense of the struggle of everyone involved. The down and dirty in this book…Teenage girls are crazy twisted beings. It’s not their fault though, they are a product of the world they have evolved from. It makes me so glad I’m not a teenage girl today. It was bad enough when I was in school without the existence of social networking, the Web, cell phones and the instant gratification that is our world today. Megan Abbott, does an astounding job of critically looking at the female teen psyche and their effects not only on each other but on those around them. What I found especially interesting, was the perspective of each character and how they interpreted not only the events going on around them, but the people around them. Abbott has successfully developed what to me is like an intricate spiderweb of connections which connect the people in this small town. No person is an island, and everyone in connected, often in ways you never imagined possible. Each person’s actions affect others. Even the smallest actions, the littlest interpretation, and the most mundane of instances can influence in ways you never thought possible and Abbott so eloquently depicts this in The Fever.
The other interesting aspect of this book, is the build up of suspense and intrigue. Abbott, develops the story like a slow trickle of water from a faucet. Drop by drop, bits are revealed, thoughts are presented, perspectives are given. And slowly, a story forms, like a puddle on the ground, spreading and flowing like something not contained and loose in the world. The result: it makes you feel unbalanced and struggling just like the characters in the book. The more information you are given, the less in control you feel and the more confused you become, until the climactic ending which leaves you trying to make sense of what has actually happened. As the town and the reader try to move on with their lives, they are left with questions that they will never get answered.
This was a great book. I highly recommend it. The suspense and intrigue are amazing. The characters are deep, thoughtful, flawed and struggling. The mystery in the story will keep you guessing until the very end. Check it out!