24 August 2012

Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion...by any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.

Fever was a thrilling continuation of its breakout prequel, Wither, though for me, something was off.  It wasn't Lauren DeStefano's clever, thorough writing style or the stakes that rose with every chapter, but it might've been Rhine's character or how the shine was starting to wear off.

I think dystopian trilogies might come with pre-installed slope of success.  The first book is amazing and there's a hype over the new story, but when the second book rolls around, there's a lot of iffy-ness and "mehs" and by the third, well...  While Lauren DeStefano did so many things right, the shine of the story had worn off for me.

One of the big pluses was DeStefano's ability to make me shiver.  In his book Story, Robert McKee has this to say about world building (and, more broadly, creative limitation):
Limitation is vital.  The first step toward a well-told story is to create a small, knowable world.*
The "twisted carnival" described in the summary of the book was creepy in the extreme.  DeStefano uses the familiar backdrop of a carnival to paint the shadows of a dark, ugly world that goes on behind the curtains.  DeStefano has a skill for taking tiny details and building them to make a "small, knowable world".

The stakes were upped, too.  This wasn't a rehashing of Wither.  Fever stands entirely on its own while maintaining most of the integrity of the first book.

The kinship that I had felt towards Rhine in Wither faded a bit in this book.  While there weren't identifiable moments where I disliked her, or her motives or her choices, I felt a slight hesitation when I went to cheer for her.  (The ending, however, was appropriately bizarre and really gained her some brownie points.)  Though it didn't immediately detract from my enjoying the book, I'm worried Sever may see a degrading of my opinion of her.

Lauren DeStefano was cruel in the way she ended Fever, leaving me practically foaming at the mouth in anticipation for Sever.  I'm excited to see what she'll do after the Chemical Garden trilogy.

He kisses me back, all the pages spread out around us like riddles waiting to be solved.  Let them wait.  Let my genes unravels, my hinges come loose.  If my fate rests in the hands of a madman, let death come and bring its worst.  I'll take the ruined craters of laboratories, the dead trees, this city with ashes in the oxygen, if it means freedom.  I'd sooner die here than live a hundred years with wires in my veins. (p. 269)
Book Info

  • pages - hardcover, 341
  • published - February 2012
  • publisher - Simon & Schuster
  • genre - dystopian
  • rating - 5/5
  • received via - Amazon
  • series - Chemical Garden trilogy
    • Wither
    • Fever
    • Sever (coming soon)
More Info
Lauren's... Website | Blog | FacebookTwitter | Goodreads

* McKee, Robert. Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting. New York: Regan, 1997. Print.