Monday, June 16, 2014

Review: The Fever

Summary: 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, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey 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. -- Little, Brown

I was fortunate enough a few years ago to meet author Megan Abbott at a BEA party. It came right on the heels of reading her thriller THE END OF EVERYTHING, and I was amazed that such a nice (and tiny) woman could write such scary stuff. I read her next novel DARE ME and I swear, as a mom to a teenage girl, that it gave me nightmares. And now her latest novel THE FEVER is out, and it's another thrilling (and scary!) story. In fact, I think it's her best of the three -- and that's really saying something because I'm a pretty big fan!

THE FEVER is a suspenseful story that takes place in what appears to be a peaceful suburban community. Deenie is a 16 year old student at the local high school where her dad Tom is a popular teacher and her brother Eli is a hockey stud. Deenie is your typical teenage girl with "normal" concerns until one of her best friends Lise has an unexpected seizure at the high school. Naturally, the teachers and students are concerned about Lise, but tensions escalate when another girl has a seizure. Rumors fly as members of the community try to figure out why young girls are exhibiting these symptoms. Deenie has to navigate her own personal issues while at the same time deal with the terror that is occurring to the girls in her school.. and wondering if she's next!

I absolutely adored THE FEVER! Ms. Abbott truly knows how to write a gripping tale while also scaring the heck out of me. (I think part of my fear is because I am a mom to a teenage girl!) This book intrigued me from the very first page until the last, and once again, I was impressed with how well she "gets" the drama that is part of teenage girls' lives. I loved the pace of the novel and how the tension built; and I truly was satisfied with the stunning conclusion.  (Obviously, I didn't see it coming!) It really was such a fun book and the perfect summer read.

While I thought Ms. Abbott did a fantastic job of bringing the world of teenage girls to life, I think what I most appreciated about this story is how she explored the growing panic of a small community. As I read this novel, I could totally see something like this happening in our home town; and it just felt like the reactions of the townspeople were so real. Rumors flew (some more realistic than others!) and the entire community got caught up in terror!

As scary as the seizures were when they first began occurring, the tension just increased as more and more girls experienced the same symptoms. Naturally, Deenie tried to make sense of the drama while also fearing that she would be next. I thought Ms. Abbott created a marvelous character in Deenie and I loved her authenticity while also fearing for her safety. In addition, I appreciated the way Deenie explored the ongoing changes in her life -- her relationship with her mother and father, school, and even her sexuality -- in the midst of all this confusion!

If you haven't discovered Megan Abbott yet, then you are truly missing out! I highly recommend THE FEVER... and all of her other books!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read. Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

I found this book hard to put down. You're so right that it's as much about the community as it is about the girls.

Beth F said...

This is totally gripping! I'm almost done, and it was hard to put it down to go to sleep!

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) said...

I just started this last night and, like Kathy and Beth, cannot put it down!

Kim@Time2Read said...

This one is on my list to read. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it. Thanks for the review!