The Fever by Megan Abbott
Published by Blackstone Audiobooks on June 17, 2014
Genre(s): fiction, contemporary, suspense, young adult
Format & Length: audiobook, 9:13:03
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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 and the father of two teens: Eli, a hocky 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.
A chilling story about guilt, family secrets, and the lethal power of desire, “The Fever” affirms Megan Abbott s reputation as one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation (Laura Lippman).”
I struggled with rating this book.
Megan Abbott’s writing is brilliantly evocative and immerses you fully in the story. (The fact that I listened to this on audiobook probably also helped that.) She so deftly paints the picture of female teenage adolescence and puts you right inside the hysteria that is teendom. Even reading this as an adult, the events of this story felt enormous, the way the smallest incidents feel like they’re going to make your world explode when you’re sixteen.
“Growing up felt like a series of bewildering afters.”
In addition to perfectly capturing the cruel world of teenage girls, the male perspectives also feel realistic. For the audiobook version, I appreciated that each point of view was read by a different narrator and all were done quite well.
“Sometimes it felt like parenting amounted to a series of questionable decisions, one after another.”
On the other hand, certain things seemed lacking. The Fever itself feels like a plot device or excuse to follow this particular set of characters. While it’s (mostly) answered in the end what actually happened, I wanted more. The closing of the story was so short and quick after a long, drawn out puzzle of events, and I felt like some plot lines didn’t fully come to a close. I would have preferred a few more pages of follow up and some more closure.
“It was a marvelous string of sentences containing no information at all.”
Overall, I felt The Fever was more of a drama exploring the relationships and tensions in a small town than a mystery, thriller, or horror story. And it did this remarkably well. But of course, that does seem to be Abbott’s strength. While this didn’t even hold a candle to You Will Know Me, it wasn’t exactly unexceptional either.