By Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 2
My Rating: 4 Stars
Fever is the second book in Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden Trilogy. This book is a solid continuation of DeStefano’s deeply disturbing world. It’s sure to keep you engaged and enthralled. This book, unlike the first book leaves the reader feeling as if they are in a daze just as Rhine throughout most of the book. You can never be sure what is happening since so much of the perspective is skewed from Rhine’s drug induced state. It’s a creative plot device to keep the reader guessing what will happen next and it’s an exceptionally good tool for keeping the suspense level high throughout the development of the story. Wither did an exceptional job of establishing the level of fear and danger in the world Rhine lives in and it’s clear no one is safe. In Fever these feelings are compounded because of the uncertainty that Rhine and Gabriel find themselves in throughout the whole book. In addition, the constant drug usage throughout the book establishes how very out of control they are of their own lives.
Rhine and Gabriel have escaped from the mansion where they have been imprisoned by Vaughn, Rhine’s father-in-law. She and Gabriel are determined to make it to Manhattan where Rhine hopes to be reunited with her twin brother Rowan. But soon after escaping, Rhine and Gabriel run straight into a trap when they encounter a carnival run by a twisted ringmistress named Madame.
Drawn to Rhine because of her unique appearance, Madame uses any means necessary to keep Rhine and Gabriel at the carnival where she hopes to make good money by creating a show for them. But in order to keep them compliant and cooperative, Rhine and Gabriel find themselves in a constant drug induced haze from the opium the girls in the compound are constantly taking just to get through their days.
Rhine and Gabriel try desperately to hold onto their sanity while playing into Madame’s games. And though they know escape is almost impossible they must find a way or all they have done is trade one prison for another. If they aren’t careful they will loose themselves in Madame’s carnival and all that will be left of them will be shells of their former selves.
As Rhine and Gabriel plot their escape from the twisted carnival, Madame has plans of her own and those plans will leave Rhine and Gabriel right back where they started. In a turn of events, the stars align for Rhine and Gabriel and they barely escape with their lives. As they make their way to Manhattan Rhine can only think about Rowan and if he’s given up on finding her. She hopes he hasn’t. But when they arrive at Rhine’s home all they find are the charred ruins of a place Rhine called home. Rowan is gone. Desperate to find her brother, Rhine starts tracking his last steps in the hopes of catching up with him. But Vaughn is relentless in his search for Rhine. And he’ll do whatever he needs to do to bring her home; willingly or otherwise.
This book and this series continued to disturb me to unending levels. Not many books creep me out but these books are doing an excellent job of achieving just that. I continue to find DeStefano’s world completely terrifying and unhinged. While not your traditional type of horror book, these qualify in my eyes. Then to add to my terror, most of this book left the reader in a drugged up haze that just heightened my sense of unease throughout my experience in reading it to conclusion. It’s definitely a good second book in a series.
Fever is a bridge book and in many ways it reads like that. While the book is well plotted and there is actual progress in the story, meaning, Rhine and Gabriel actually make it to Manhattan, much of the book is spent in a drugged state and the reader is left with the wandering mind of Rhine or watching Gabriel suffer from the drugs forced on him to keep him compliant. It’s disturbing and disorienting for the reader to go through this. It brings home the utter feeling of despair and hopelessness of Rhine during this book. Rhine’s fear is real as the reader suffers along with her in her desperation to escape but not having the strength or power to do anything.
While there isn’t a whole lot of action in this book, it’s still an excellent second book for this series. It’s important to establish the helpless feeling of society as a whole. In Whither most of the book takes place within the confines of the mansion and what parts the reader sees outside are within the confines of the wealthy and privileged. The reader never gets a sense of the true outside world. Fever helps to establish the huge divide between both wealthy and the average citizen. In addition, it starts to setup the divide between those looking for a cure and those who don’t think one should be sought if it’s at the expense of the young.
Overall, this has been a great series to read so far. I’m really looking forward to reading the last installment and seeing this story to it’s conclusion. This series is definitely going on my list of top YA series to read. If you haven’t read Wither, go out and get yourself a copy so you can then read this book and eventually move on to the third and final book.