Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Fever (The Chemical Garden #2) by Lauren Destefano
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
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.(courtesy of Goodreads)
Most readers have genres they prefer over others. I think it's important to challenge prejudices and misconceptions against certain genres. Find the right book and you may fall in love. I do not like dystopias. I never have. I know I've said this over and over on the blog. That said, I really enjoyed Wither. The concept of women dying at 20 and men dying at 25 from an incurable virus and its societal consequences was fascinating in a horrible way. But most of all, I loved Rhine and her relationship with her sister wives. I eagerly anticipated Fever. But it was not for me. That's not to say that Fever is a bad book. If you like dystopias, I think you will enjoy Fever very much. Unfortunately, it contains all of the things about dystopias that I dislike and lacked the qualities I liked from Wither.
Fever is dark. 2 AM drowning in solid blackness dark. Wither was a very dark book, but Fever took it down another pitch. Every time you think things for Rhine and Gabriel are going to get better, they get worse. That's not my style. There's a reason I hated The Handmaid's Tale and 1984 when everyone else loved it. I don't want to finish a book only to feel like I need to down a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough to cheer up. And that's what this book made me want to do (good thing I didn't have any ice cream in the house). But a lot of people love that kind of thing.
Fever is constant action. Gabriel and Rhine are on the run from evil Governor Vaughn. They get themselves into one mess only to extricate themselves and then get into another mess. You won't get bored with this book, because things change so quickly. I loved the addition of Maddie, a mute little girl who manages to silently save the day numerous times.
Another high point of Fever is the writing. Not necessarily the plotting or characterization, which I have some issues with, but the writing itself. I'm impressed with Lauren. Plot development and good characterization are things that can improve as she develops as a writer, but sheer beauty of words is a more innate talent. Her prose is so descriptive. I could feel, see, smell, and taste the heavy tension and despair throughout the novel. The words were important players in Fever, rather than simple tools to an end, as often is the case with less talented writers.
Onto my plotting and characterization issues. My quibbles about the plot are mostly personal preference. The sister wives and Linden were my favorite parts about Wither. We hardly saw any of these elements in Wither. Instead, it was focused on Gabriel and Rhine, who unfortunately weren't as thrilling to me. I like Rhine. Her inner strength and stubbornness carry her and Gabriel through all their trials. I neither like nor dislike Gabriel. And that is a failing, I think. The romantic lead should be more compelling. He feels like a blank slate. I much preferred Linden in Wither, who may have been a wimp but was more sympathetic. Then there's Governor Vaughn who is cardboard evil. I like my villains with more layers.
Fever has a lot going for it, particularly constant action and strong prose. It follows the stereotypical dark dystopia theme, which is great if you like that kind of thing. Although Fever may not be for me, I still feel invested enough in the story and plot that I look forward to reading (or at least skimming) the next installment.