Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano

28 January, 2012 Reviews 6 comments

Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefanoFever by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden #2
Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers on February 21st 2012
Pages: 341
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Source: Author
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four-half-stars

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.

This is the first book I’ve read this year that grabbed me. And I mean it grabbed me. In fact, it’s the first book that’s going right on my “2012 favs” shelf. You know I’m picky and you know my bar is pretty high, but I LOVED this book. Lau­ren DeSte­fano stole my heart with her lyrical prose in Wither, but she took my breath away with Fever.

But before I start gush­ing uncon­trol­lably about how much I loved this book, I feel I need to talk about this cover for a minute. I’m gonna be hon­est here and say that when I first saw this cover, I didn’t exactly like it. In fact, my exact words were, “It looks awful. And why does her hair look like that? She looked so much bet­ter on the first cover. She looks like she is strung out on drugs. Total fail on this one. Smh.” *Sigh* I really should stop judg­ing a book by its cover because unlike some books where the cover is com­pletely mis­lead­ing *cough*The Shadow Reader*cough*, Fever’s is very accu­rate. Every detail you see on that cover has some­thing to do with the plot from the drugged facial expres­sion and body posi­tion, to the tarot cards, right down to the color of the dress. Yes, yes. Some­one read this book before the photo shoot (or at least given notes)and it SHOWS. Good job. Please, some­one give that per­son a Klondike bar. So, while I do still love Wither’s cover bet­ter, I take back the neg­a­tives I said last July.

Now that that’s off my chest, time for the review. Let gush­ing commence.

Fever picks up exactly where Wither left off. Gabriel and Rhine have escaped the man­sion and House­mas­ter Vaughn and are attempt­ing to make their way to New York city (or what’s left of it) to find Rhine’s twin brother, Rowen. Obvi­ously, that’s sounds more easy that what it is because they live in a world where their youth cou­pled with the virus makes them a tar­get for pros­ti­tu­tion, weird sci­en­tific exper­i­ments, and forced servi­tude. If you think it couldn’t get any more dis­turb­ing than Cecily’s preg­nancy in Wither, you were wrong. Right from the begin­ning Rhine and Gabriel stum­ble across one of these hor­rors at a sick and twisted car­ni­val where the only fun to be had is depen­dent upon how much the “John” is will­ing to pay for. How­ever, they quickly learn escap­ing that deadly play­ground is not their only prob­lem because Vaughn is after Rhine and he will stop at noth­ing to get her back.

I’m not giv­ing away any spoil­ers. So, if you clicked this review hop­ing for some details about what’s going to hap­pen next, guess what?

Does Rhine find Rowen? Does Vaughn catch up to Rhine? What hap­pened to Cecily? Why is it called “Fever”? All of those ques­tions I can’t answer. You’ll just have to read the book. But I will tell you what I LOVED about this book.

The plot:

This is one of those books where you really can’t predict what’s going to happen next. That’s mostly due to the fact that we didn’t have a good idea of what the outside world was like in Wither. Well, in Fever you get a full-blown dose of Rhine’s reality. It is not pretty and it’s grim. Rhine and Gabriel seem to go from one horrible thing to the next. I can’t even decide which of them is worse. Scientific experiment or a drugged out prostitute? Which would you pick? I mean, jumping off a cliff would start to seem like the optimal choice. But somehow due to Rhine’s determination and strength, they escape. Their journey to New York is not an easy one and it had me flipping through the pages needing to know what happened next. There is one part in the book that slows on you and at first I was wondering when it would pick back up, but when it did it just made me appreciate the down time. The plot twist hits you like a freight train.

The characters (old and new):

While staying at the Carnival of Horrors, or as I like call it “Cirque de Prostitute”, we meet one of the best new characters in the series, Maddie. She is a brilliant child who is slightly malformed and a mute. Her characterization was genius and while it may seem like you should feel sorry for her handicaps, she doesn’t need your pity. It’s easy to say she was one of the reasons why I fell in love with this book. Maddie’s mother, Lilac, a nineteen year old prostitute, also was a winner and her story breaks my heart.

Rhine is just as strong as ever. She’s goes throughout most of the novel worried if she made the right decision to leave the mansion behind. She’s a bit unsure of herself. But unlike other indecisive heroines, Rhine’s indecision is understandable. At the mansion she had food, water, and the option to live the remainder of her years relatively comfortably. She gave that all away to be free, but she learns that freedom only goes but so far in her world and she feels terrible for dragging Gabriel into it. Rhine is a very relatable character. Determined, caring, rebellious, and stubborn. I loved her in Wither and I loved her even more in Fever.

Gabriel is one of those characters that, while I like him, I’m not sure how connected I felt to him. For the most part he relies on Rhine to navigate their cruel world and you can tell he really cares for her. However, I don’t know how much I cared for him. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want him to die or anything, but I think that is mostly for Rhine’s sake not because I would miss him. I did appreciate his fierceness to protect Rhine in a world where it’s impossible to make such promises.

The prose:

Beautiful. Once again DeStefano mesmerized me with her prose. I feel like I want to paste my favorite quotes in this review, but there are so many. Not only that, but I don’t know if they would sound as good as they do when you read the book. Rhine’s narration just flows together in this book like one huge poem. And I worry that if quote it, it won’t do the passage justice. But I’m going to try anyway. 🙂

“I should not have loved my daughter as I did. Not in this world in which nothing lives for long. You children are flies. You are roses. You multiply and die.”

Everything that happened before feels like a million years ago now. This is the freedom I craved throughout my marriage. To share a bed not because of a wedding ring or a one-sided promise that was made for me, but because of desire. Inexplicable yet undeniable. I have never craved closeness like this for anyone else.

And my personal favorite out of the entire novel:

He kissed back, all the pages spread out around us like riddles waiting to be solved. Let them wait. Let my genes unravel, my hinges come loose. If my fate rests in the hands of a madman, let death come and bring its worse. 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

Gah! I could live off of bread, water and pretty prose for the rest of my days. I just love it!

The ending:

Whew. WOW. Jeez, man. That last third? OMG, horribly perfect. It’s one of those endings where all the shit is hitting the fan and everything’s going straight to hell first class faster than you can say “in a hand basket” and you’re wondering how this book is supposed to end, that Rhine can’t possibly escape this one. It blew me away and left me hanging! THAT DARN CLIFFHANGER!!!




Why, Lauren? Why did you do that to me? Between you and Cynthia Hand how am I supposed to survive until 2013?! Curses, curses, curses!

Recommendation: If you loved Wither or even just liked it, you will most likely enjoy Fever. If you didn’t like Wither at all, you may like Fever a little better. *shrugs* Up to you folks!

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the author. Are these my honest opinions? Pfft…I can’t believe you would even doubt me.

Steph Sinclair

Steph Sinclair

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
I'm a bibliophile trying to make it through my never-ending To-Be-Read list, equal opportunity snarker and fangirl, YA Books Central editor and co-blogger here at Cuddlebuggery. Find me on GoodReads.
Steph Sinclair
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6 Responses to “Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano”

    • cuddlebuggery

      So many people disliked this cover when it was revealed last year, but like you, I love it now. 🙂

    • cuddlebuggery

      Hi Jan,

      Some people receive them directly from the publisher or through giveaways (from the publisher or author), but I received a copy of an ARC from Lauren DeStefano. She was kind enough to send me one. Otherwise I would have just had to wait until Februray 21st. I'm very grateful since I'm a fan of the series. 🙂

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