Rummanah Aasi
 The Fever caught my eye as I was browsing the shelves at my public library. I was curious to see how an adult writer would capture the high school milieu and portray teenagers who are usually in the background in many adult novels.

Description: 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.

Review: The Fever is a deliciously twisted tale of hormone driven teenagers with echoes of hysteria and witch hunt that is first seen in Arthur Miller's The Crucible. The premise of the book is very simple: a mysterious illness occurs at school and everyone has little information as to how it started and how to stop it.
  Abbott's talent shines in depicting the viciousness of high school where jealousy, entitlement, manipulation to get what you want, and the desire of immediate satisfaction knows no bounds. The book follows a group of female friends at Dryden High School. At the center of the group is Deenie Nash and her best friends Lise Daniels and Gabby Bishop, an inseparable trio. Deenie is our main character and the daughter of a popular teacher, and the younger sister of hockey star and school heartthrob Eli. I liked how Abbott portrayed Deenie, who balances on the seesaw of confident and vulnerable. Not only is she trying to navigate her own sexual awakening, but she also has to deal with her distant mother, school drama, and feeling jealous of Skye, a girl who is spending way more time with her best friend Gabby.
  The book's suspense is kicked into high gear when the mysterious affliction appears. What seemed like an ordinary school day is changed when Lise suffers an unexplained and violent seizure in the middle of class. Many people thought Lise's incident was isolated until a series of girls began exhibiting the same symptoms. The rumors seem to spread as fast as the mysterious affliction, which is blamed on everything from a rotten batch of vaccine to female hysteria.
  Abbott expertly withholds just enough information to slowly ratchet up the hysteria and suspense as the school is shaken with half-formed theories and speculations. One speculation in which the disease is transmitted sexually is a curious thought. As a society, we seem to be fine with boys being sexually active as if it is their rite into manhood and an event to be celebrated, however, there is a double standard when it comes to females. Interestingly, Abbott shows this double standard in how she creates her male characters, attractive beings who is always on the outside and something to be possessed, conquered.
  As Deenie tries to solve the mystery, she has to sort through uncomfortable complex social and emotional issues. While I was a bit disappointed on how the mystery is solved, I really liked going on this bizarre and dark journey with Deenie. All of the characters were fleshed out and I would definitely recommend it if you like character driven stories. The Fever is a book that might not please all suspense readers, but it does make you think. I really liked Abbot's writing and I will definitely read another book by her again.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: Since the contagion is rumored to be sexually transmitted, there is a lot of discussion and mention of sex along with sexual situations. There is also strong language in the book. Recommended for mature teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn, Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter, Furies by Natalie Haynes
5 Responses
  1. Hmm.... sounds like this book is packed with suspense and it has a good mystery, but I am a little discouraged to hear that it didn't quite work for you.

  2. Kindlemom Says:

    I really like the sound of this one! I was one of those strange teenagers that actually loved reading The Crucible in school so I think this would really interest me as well!

  3. Aylee Says:

    Right on, this one sounds pretty good! I remember sort of seeing it around when it was released, but I really haven't seen anything else about it until now. Suspense can be tricky to do particularly well, so I'm impressed that you thought this author managed it (if a tad imperfectly).

  4. This sounds good to me, especially since you likened the hysteria to that of the Salem Witch Trials. I haven't heard of it but definitely going on my TBR!! Thanks!!

  5. Hmm this doesn't really sound like my type of read so I'll probably pass on this even though you really enjoyed it. I do like that it makes you think and slowly increases the suspense.

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