The Fever by Megan Abbott, published June 2014 by Pan Macmillan.
Read: February 2015
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary/Mystery/Suspense
Source: Publisher – this does not affect my opinion of the book.
Get It Now: Wordery
Goodreads Synopsis: The Nashes are a close-knit family. Tom, a popular teacher, is father to the handsome, roguish Eli and his younger sister Deenie, serious and sweet. But their seeming stability is thrown into chaos when two of Deenie’s friends become violently ill, and rumours of a dangerous outbreak sweep through the whole community.
As hysteria swells and as more girls succumb, tightly held secrets emerge that threaten to unravel the world Tom has built for his kids, and destroy friendships, families, and the town’s fragile idea of security. The Fever is a chilling story about guilt, family secrets, and the lethal power of desire.
This was an interesting read, I wasn’t sure if it was going to go down the paranormal route or not, and the mystery element kept me guessing. I also loved delving into the psychology of hysteria, though felt it definitely could have been developed further to make the ending more satisfying. While some aspects of this story were quite strong, other elements of it were lacking, and overall I’m going to find this tough to review!
This book is intriguing and mysterious. It’s main strength is that Abbott is a good writer – the novel is told from three perspectives, and while this could feel disjointed at times, it also added to the story in the sense that none of the narrators knew what was going on, so the multiple POVs really helped convey confusion to the reader. However, the writing couldn’t save the fact that this book felt very drawn out – the entire book takes place over a relatively short time (7 weeks, I believe?) and for a mystery/suspense, a quicker pace would have packed more of a punch, and maintained a stronger momentum.
Even though there were many to choose from, I wasn’t particularly attached to any of the characters, which made it difficult to become invested in the novel, and at one point the mean-girls, girl-on-girl hate story-line caused me to eye-roll, and question what the hell I had just read.
The book is quite heavy in social commentary, particularly surrounding female sexuality, and I thought if this and the psychological elements had have been further developed, the ending may have appeased me a little more. The suspense was built well in this story, and there were many plausible story-arcs this book could have taken, but by the end it felt like such an anti-climax, the story didn’t lead where I thought it would, and I was left feeling a bit “meh” by it all.
The main reason I stuck with this read was the promise of a great reveal, and when that didn’t happen, I felt cheated.
“You spend a long time waiting for life to start – her past year or two filled with all these firsts, everything new and terrifying and significant – and then it does start and you realise it isn’t what you’d expected, or asked for.”
“That she was both fearless and fragile and could be hurt badly in ways he could not fix.”
Have you read The Fever? What did you make of it? I found it hard to gather my thoughts on this one, so let me know your opinions in the comments!