Genre: Young Adult
*I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
The Fever by Megan Abbott is a mystery novel about an unknown illness that strikes a community. Young girls are getting sick and no one is sure what is causing the sickness in these teens or why it only seems to be affecting girls.
The story is told through three points of view of the Nash family: Tom (father), Eli (son), and Deenie (daughter). Everything in the community seems fine until Deenie’s best friend has a seizure in class. Since the cause of the seizure is unexplained, rumors begin to spread about a dangerous outbreak that is spreading through the school and community. As people begin to panic, secrets are revealed that finally give answers to this mysterious illness.
While the synopsis for this story sounded really intriguing and made me want to know what caused this outbreak, I found myself very disappointed with The Fever. The characters were boring, and they did and thought some annoying/odd things. Deenie is incredibly impulsive. When she is told repeatedly not to see her friend in the hospital, she, of course, must find a way into the hospital. I understand worrying about a friend, but Deenie is constantly trying to see her friend, even after Deenie sees her once. Tom and Eli are sometimes unintentionally creepy with the way they think about Deenie and her friends. Tom will think about Deenie’s friend in a bathing suit and blush or Eli will be worried about how sexual Deenie is becoming. It wasn’t meant to be disturbing, but it came across that way.
There seemed to be more teen drama than there was a mystery aspect. It was mostly teens talking about others and spreading rumors than finding out why the girls were getting sick. It seemed that all of the action happened during the beginning with Deenie’s friend having the seizure and the rumors spreading about an illness only affecting teen girls. The middle of the book was boring and seemed to drag while leading you on a wild goose chase. However, I didn’t mind the red herrings throughout the story. I thought they were pretty good distractions, but once the actual cause of the outbreak was revealed, it made me want at least one of the red herrings to be true instead.
I really wanted the lake to be the cause of the outbreak. I was hoping for aliens or some kind of disease from the algae or water, but of course, it had to be some boy obsessed teen poisoning her friend. Some friend. Even the HPV vaccine would have been an interesting cause for the illness. I mean that would have scared me enough. The idea that a vaccine could be the reason for girls having seizure, throwing up, and becoming unconscious is pretty terrifying to me.
Also, why are people swimming in that lake? From the description, it sounded absolutely horrible and gross. Don’t swim in a slimy lake, people!
The ending was unsatisfying. While it was unexpected, it almost seemed as though it came from nowhere. I just kept reading, thinking it was some sort of joke, but it wasn’t. I felt there could have been some great commentary on health or vaccines or something. There isn’t much closure for the characters or the reader. After the community finds out what made the girls sick, the reason just disappears, and everyone goes about their day. It wasn’t the ending I was hoping for or expecting.
The Fever wasn’t a great mystery. Even though the red herrings were plausible and made sense, the true reason for the outbreak seemed silly. The characters were dull and at times had some inappropriate thoughts about other characters. Overall, it was an okay book, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it. Others have enjoyed it though, so it’s always up to the reader.
My Rating: ★★