Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Series: The Chemical Garden #2
Release Date: February 16, 2012
Read it in: Longer than you want to know, but it had nothing to do with actual book...
So I have to start by just saying that Lauren DeStefano seriously puts me into a trance with her writing, it's that flipping good. Her world-building and descriptive abilities are incredible, and she was easily able to carry me back into Rhine's world in this second book-- one that is both beautiful and disturbing at the same time.
Fever begins after Rhine has managed to escape from the mansion where she was being held captive as a "sister-wife," forced to marry and ideally produce children to make up for the deadly virus that has overtaken the population. Rhine and Gabriel are now on the run, to escape from Linden's sadistic father, Housemaster Vaughn, and find Rhine's twin back in Manhattan.
Rhine has matured in this book, and continues to grow and become stronger and more resilient throughout her journey back home. I really liked that she wasn't afraid to fight for her life and protect those she loves. Fever also helped me to come to better terms with Rhine's decision to leave the mansion in the first place-- I remember thinking while reading Wither, why the heck is she so upset with being chosen to be a sister wife? You know, besides the whole being-kidnapped-to-become-a baby-machine-thing, the gig wasn't so bad compared to how crap-tastic her life in Manhattan was before. I think that you really see in this book how Rhine starts questioning whether or not life in the mansion was so bad after all, and what price she has to pay to have any sort of "freedom" in the real world-- which in this case, is pretty dark and nightmarish, too.
Then we have Gabriel... OK, so it's not that I don't like him, I mean he's a nice guy, he's always there for Rhine, and he does what is right, but at the same time I find him to be sort of generic. Well, actually scratch that-- I find him to be dull as a doornail. It's almost like, OK, we have to have a male love interest in this book, so we'll throw in Gabriel and make him the perfect guy but not spend too much time giving him an actual personality or anything that would help me to connect and relate to him as a human being. And not JUST a human being, but one who has just been torn from the only world he's ever known to run away with a girl who has no clue what she's doing or what her ultimate goal is. Yes, he gets sort of pissy at some points in the book, but seriously dude, punch a wall or something! Gabriel just seems like more of a (boring) ideal than an actual person.
As for the other characters, Housemaster Vaughn proved himself once again to be one of the evilest evil villains ever, and his sadistic experiments and torturous procedures were pretty hideous. And yet, the guy does have a motive, which I have to give him credit for. It's refreshing because I feel like in so many YA books it's difficult to figure out what everyone's motive is and why they're doing what they do, but all of this is laid out pretty well. His son Linden is a ghost we hardly ever see, even more washed out and unmemorable than he was in the first book, and Cecily returns with all her sweet, sexy charm to try and help Rhine. And can I just say, I loved Maddie-- seriously she was probably my fave character of the whole book, because without speaking a word, she had so much personality and quirkiness and this creepy-cuteness, that I just couldn't help but love her.
I also really loved the parts having to do with Madame's carnival and I could literally picture every scene-- the prostitutes in the tents, the rusty Ferris wheel, the feeling of desperation underlying this supposedly magical place-- just the whole atmosphere of rot and decay underlying an illusion of youth and beauty, it really stuck with me. That, and the world-building took my breath away.
I guess my one major problem with Fever was that it suffered a little from S.B.S.-- also known as Second Book Syndrome. S.B.S. is characterized by little to no action in the plot line, scenes that drag on and on and seem to have very little point to the overall story, and few if any ground-breaking revelations or "aha!" moments that would otherwise break up the monotony of description and inner-dialogue. There were parts of this book that just seemed to drag on for pages and pages at a time, leaving me wondering when on earth the plot was going to finally pick up again, and when they were going to stop wandering aimlessly around. (It wasn't as bad as Crossed, AKA Matched #2, but it got close a few times.) The first part of the book was absolutely brilliant, no doubt-- I just wish that it could have kept with the fast-paced action and suspense that it started out with!
Altogether, Fever was a good installation in The Chemical Garden series, and Lauren DeStefano is such an incredible writer. Admittedly, I didn't find this second book to be as jaw-droppingly incredible as the first one, but it was still enjoyable. I guess the problem with amazing debut novels is that any book coming after has a lot to live up to. Fever was a good read, but I was so excited and expectant when I got my hands on it finally, that I was ultimately a little let down with the overall story. How do you think it compares to the first? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
When I first saw this cover on Goodreads and other people's blogs I wasn't initially a fan, I guess because I thought the girl looked stoned or something, but once I got an actual copy in my hands, it took my breath away. And did I mention that UNDER the book jacket the actual bound book is hot pink?! Oh yeah, that gives it two thumbs up in my book any day. Not to mention that the overall design of this series so far is absolutely stunning-- the credits, title page, even the publication info on the inside has this amazing detail throughout that is just gorgeous and totally unique. If I were ever to have a book published, in my dreams it would look like this!