Review Blog

Jun 15 2012

Fever by Lauren DeStefano

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The Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 2. Simon and Schuster. ISBN: 9781442409071.
(Age: Older teens) Fever starts very strongly, following immediately on from Wither. Rhine and Gabriel are on the run, and must rely on their wits to avoid being recaptured. DeStafano's dystopian world is depicted in two contrasting landscapes: inside buildings, tents, and structures where there is a clear sense of being trapped, with threats of violence and worse, and outside, which is described in beautiful lyrical language portraying nature and freedom. There seems not to be anything in between.
Unfortunately, as the story progresses, the plot loses focus. A predictable pattern follows in which the two lovers are captured, exploited and drugged, and attempt escape (with the help of sympathetic minor characters who for reasons of their own, put their lives at risk). Then there is further capture, separation, and more drugs and experimentation. Interestingly, the first person, present tense narrative doesn't allow readers to connect with Rhine. She remains distant and cold, but considering she is often drugged and partly unconscious, this isn't surprising.
Rhine's desire to find her brother Rowan was a dominant feature of the first book, however in this one, he's almost completely forgotten. Gabriel, the love interest, doesn't seem to have any distinct personality traits apart from being totally in love with Rhine. The evil character, Vaughan, is menacing, and Lyndon still seems weak and clueless.
Although once again the novel ends in a cliff-hanger, the lead-up is mostly low key. There are some revelations, but it's not heart-thumping stuff. Overall this book was disappointing. While Gideon and Rhine are in captivity they are fed drugs and made to 'perform' for voyeurs, however the majority of the action is only hinted at. It's definitely for older teens. Themes include dystopian futures, diseases, love, and family.
Trisha Buckley

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