Review: Fever - Lauren DeStefano
Fever by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden Trilogy #2
Genre: YA, futuristic, romance
Published on February 21, 2012
Published by Simon & Schuster
Read From: 2.15.13 - 2.17.13
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.
Cover Blurb: Yes or No? No. Once again, it has a character impersonator on it, and while the girl looks the way I felt reading this book (that is, drugged), I don't care for it. I do, however, like how there's items on the cover that link directly to the story.
Characters: Rhine really is a pretty basic protagonist. She's not bursting with personality or brains, nor is she completely lacking them. These sort of protagonists I find that I don't dislike, neither do I especially care about them. Rhine continues to display an uncanny ability at bad escape plans and just, in general, making no plans before she acts. It gets annoying, I'll admit. Gabriel spends so much time in the book suffering from drug withdrawals that his personality isn't very prominent, so I found that I didn't especially care about him, either. At first, I thought Maddie was going to turn into a drag. Never burden a protagonist down with a child when they're trying to escape, unless said child serves a purpose to the overall plot, and therefore cannot be excluded. Maddie doesn't really serve a purpose to the overall plot, but she didn't get in the way, either, so I didn't mind her too much. Vaughn continues to be a rather genuinely creepy villain, though certainly not the most memorable I have ever encountered in literature.
The Romance: Gabriel, like I said, spends most of the book drugged or suffering from withdrawals. And once he gets over his problems, Rhine falls ill and spends all of her time either in fevered dreams or, later, strapped to a gurney with drugs pumping into her veins. So the two don't have a whole lot of opportunity to go all googy-eyed over each other. As far as the love triangle goes, I am more supportive of Gabriel, if only because I really can't see that many redeeming qualities in Linden. He's totally clueless and it okay with impregnating a thirteen-year-old girl - a child. So, yeah, I have a hard time liking him. But the love triangle isn't horribly prominent, because either one or both of the protagonists are drugged out.
Plot: Here's where I had real issues. There wasn't a plot; not really. The whole book felt like one giant drug trip. Gabriel and Rhine stumble upon this weird carnival place, where a nasty older woman is selling prostitutes. There wasn't much of a point to this part, other than this is where Rhine and Gabriel pick up Maddie. This is also where Gabriel gets hooked (unwillingly) on a drug - angel's blood, - which he then spends practically the rest of the book getting out of his system. Meanwhile, Rhine spends most of her time in a drugged haze as well, since that's how the prostitutes are kept from running away. Well, then Rhine does run away, helps Gabriel get over his addiction, and then Rhine falls ill, and then Rhine ends up on more drugs. So basically, the entire book is a series of weird, trippy hallucinations and dreams, Rhine being poked with needles, passed out, knocked out, drugged out, and every other kind of out there is. I literally felt physically dizzy and disorientated and glitchy and ill by the time I was done reading the book, and I felt like the Beatles' Go Ask Alice should have been playing in the background. In a word, I felt drugged, or like I had missed some rather important medication.
Believability: Characters kept pulling Rhine's IV needles out and then "slipping" them back in. Does the Author not realize how painful that would be? This is a small matter to complain about, I know, but I have had enough experiences with IV needles myself to take issue with this. You do not just slip IV needles in and out like they're minuscule splinters. If you want to stop an IV feed, there's this handy little plastic toggle that squeezes the IV tube.
Writing Style: Present-tense, naturally. The Author definitely seemed to have a lot of fun coming up with different hallucinations and nightmares, which is definitely a complaint, since this is all the book consisted of, and there was no point in relating every single one of Rhine's hallucinations.
Content: Rhine is almost raped (pg. 163-164), but the slimeball doesn't get very far.
Conclusion: The end consisted of Rhine being drugged up some more, and then a brief interlude between her and Linden, where Linden feels betrayed, and Rhine feels oddly bad about it. Oh, and then something "shocking" is revealed about Rhine's twin brother (just so you know, I wasn't shocked). And then it ends. Nothing terribly exciting about it, I'm afraid. Fever was painful to get through, because it was essentially like being on drugs. Nothing really happened, nothing new was really revealed, and the characters spent so much time out of it, that I didn't feel like I got to know any of them any better than before. I desperately hope Sever is better.
Recommended Audience: Girl-read, fifteen-and-up, fans of "gentle" dystopian/romance novels (even though I still don't consider this a dystopian story).
Others in The Chemical Garden Trilogy: