I received this book for free from Little Brown and Company in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Fever by Megan Abbott
Published by Little Brown and Company on June 17th 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Source: Little Brown and Company
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The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.
The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.
As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.
The Fever ended up being quite the interesting read, especially psychologically speaking. It’s both a puzzling mystery as well as a look into the rashness of teenage girls burning with jealousy.
What I noticed almost immediately was the writing style, to which I can’t say I’m exactly a fan. Megan tells this story with the help of three family members who are each given a perspective in the story. We switch back and forth from father, son, and daughter in a very spastic manner, each perspective lasting from a mere paragraph to no more than a couple of pages. While, in a way, I enjoyed the style in which it told the story with quick back-and-forth glimpses from several point-of-views, constantly being pulled in all directions made me feel very disjointed. As a result it kept me at arm’s length from the characters, not allowing me the chance to get to know them. I was barely given enough time to realize which POV I was reading before it switched again. It was dizzying to say the least.
The plot itself is a good mix of thriller and mystery, with a hint at some maybe supernatural elements which were great to keep it unpredictable. I was, however, disappointed at how irrelevant a lot of it ended up being. It’s nice to get creeped out by a freaky stories and abnormal happenings, but if it’s used solely to increase suspense and ends up having nothing to do with the story, then it comes off as cheap gimmick. I mean, maybe my expectations for this were skewed, I went into it knowing nothing more than it being about a “mysterious contagion”, so maybe I shouldn’t have thought twice about their creepy small town stories, but alas. Still, it kept me on my toes, trying to guess and guess at what the heck was happening to these girls in this town that felt strangely isolated. I did eventually figure it out but it was a mere few pages before the big reveal, so kudos for that. I can’t say the pacing was perfect, I did feel like it was dragging when we kept adding to the mystery without any actual progress, but the upside is that it’s a fairly quick read especially with the frequent POV switches that makes it easy to fly through in a sitting or two.
The story introduces many angles from wild small town stories, to mass hysteria where parents are blaming vaccines or plain out panicking, to harsh teenage dramatics. It’s dark, it’s vicious, and it’s full of complex and unfortunate truths of the teenage mind. In the end, this was definitely my favorite part of the story even if I only realized the truth of what I was reading after I’d turned the last page. It ended up being completely different from what I expected, but I eventually recognized the brilliant workings that went into creating these characters and their malicious behaviors. It’s definitely one worth trying as it’s the kind of unique read that hits you after the fact more than during.
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