Sunday, July 25, 2021

Fever by Lauren DeStefano


Look, I never claimed to be a literati okay? I can be a smart, sophisticated woman and still wallow in book trash the way a Vegas bigshot wallows in a hot tub filled with hookers and champagne. That's why I'm on this trashy YA binge. I crave the mindless escape of soap opera drama and mediocre world building.

The Chemical Garden series really isn't very popular among my friends. A lot of them were kind of fatigued by the glut of Hunger Games copycats and some of them were (fairly) horrified by the child bride themes in this book. Which is totally understandable. This series revolves around a sort of Logan's Run premise where people don't live past twenty (female) or twenty-five (male). Which means that people get married and pregnant uncomfortably young.

If the first book was like a teen-friendly harem drama from the 1980s, this sequel is more like a classic adventure bodice ripper. The heroine, Rhine, is on the run from her evil mad scientist father-in-law, only to end up out of the frying pan and into fire when she lands in a carnival brothel run by a crazy lady who likes to burn people up in incinerators. Her captive gang of prostitutes have all been abducted and some of them are on drugs One of them has a mute child that the crazy lady nearly beats to death at one point. That child comes with Rhine and Gabriel when they try to escape-- again-- only to end up in YET MORE DANGER. Oh, boy.

FEVER took a long time to get moving. Unlike WITHER, which was pretty compelling from the start, this book definitely suffers from second book syndrome. Most of the book is running around. Lots of bad things happen. Rhine gets sick at some point and then it's pages of surreal fever dreams. There really isn't much meat to this book until the beginning of the middle and then, later, towards the end. We get some insight into why the House Governor did what he does (surprise, surprise, he's basically one step removed from a Nazi scientist-- and I mean that very literally, the man is basically a eugenicist). There's some medical gore that was hard to read. I found myself skimming towards the end. It's not a bad book but definitely not as good as the first and it gives the impression that the author was kind of figuring out the plot as she went, and completely ad-hocing it.

I'm still curious to see how this trilogy ends and unfortunately, I DON'T own book three, but I'm not in a huge hurry to buy it, either. I do think that Chemical Garden gets a lot of unfair hate, though, so if you're curious about the book and have a strong stomach, don't let the negative reviews prevent you from giving it a try. It really is a lot like a dystopian bodice-ripper and if that's something you think you'd be into, you'll probably really enjoy this book.

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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