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Book Reviews

Review: “Fever,” Lauren DeStefano

May 10, 2012
Review: “Fever,” Lauren DeStefanoFever (The Chemical Garden #2)
Written by Lauren DeStefano
Published February, 2012 by Simon & Schuster
341 pages
Genres: Dystopian
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three-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.

Last year’s debut, Wither, absolutely blew me away, so when I went into Fever I was expecting greatness. Unfortunately, the second novel in The Chemical Garden series does not live up to the first. It wasn’t until the last third of the book that I really started to embrace it. Still, it’s a worthwhile read if you enjoyed the first installment.

Wither left me a jumble of thoughts after closing the last page. I wanted Fever right away, but sadly I had to wait almost a year for it to come out. So naturally, when I was able to pick up Fever and see how Rhine’s story continued, I had high expectations. I was quite disappointed when these expectations weren’t met.

I must clarify that it has nothing to do with the writing. Fever was just as good as Wither with it’s prose and flowery language, but it was the plot itself that left me scratching my head. I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t read Fever yet, but a lot of the first portion of the book felt unnecessary. Instead of enjoying a short taste of freedom, Gabriel and Rhine are immediately re-captured in a place which holds brand new horrors for them. Rhine and Gabriel are drugged for a good part of the book, too, and I see a lot of people complaining about this. Fever is rather fragmented in the fact that someone is always ‘out of it’, and we see bits and pieces and a lot of delirious imagery.

We are introduced to some new characters; few which are memorable or even integral to the story. It seems like Rhine and Gabriel are just pressing along until something BIG happens… I mean, it’s inevitable that they’re going to have to deal with Vaughn and Linden before they can really be ‘free’, so as a reader I felt that everything was just leading up to the moment when Rhine would have to go back to the mansion. This disappointed me. I wanted her to enjoy her freedom – however brief – and finally convince me that Gabriel was an interesting character. This didn’t happen. Unfortunatley, Gabriel felt as hollow in this book as he did in Wither.

Saying that, I don’t like Linden. Never have. I can’t fathom why some readers are in love with him (oh, he’s naive, etc! I know that, but I don’t see how that paints him in a positive light).

It wasn’t until the last third of the book (I like to think of Fever in three parts; menagerie, Manhattan and mansion) – Mansion – that things finally started to remind me of why I loved Wither so much. There’s real danger here, with Vaughn, and I think Rhine’s time here showed the reader the severity of the situation again. Compared to this part of the book, Fever just seemed lacking – like it was trying to squash so many events together in order to lead up to this moment.

The cliffhanger was great; as well as some of the things that happened between Rhine, Cecily and Linden. I will be continuing the series when Sever comes out, because I still do enjoy it a great deal, but I just hope that the third installment matches the first. Fever was still an enjoyable read, one that you will like if you enjoyed Wither, but in comparison it felt like a filler.

Recommended to: If you loved Wither, it’s worth continuing to see where the story goes in Fever. If you weren’t a fan of the first, you might want to steer clear of this one.

About Lauren DeStefano

Lauren DeStefano (pronounced: de STEFF ano) is a lawn gnome enthusiast and New York Times bestselling author of some books. For the first six years of her life, she thought she was a mermaid and still has her suspicions. When she isn't writing, she is often composing tweets that make as little sense as possible.

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