Fever by Lauren DeStefano (review copy) - WARNING! I cannot review this book without spoiling the others in the series. Read no further if you're planning on reading this series and don't want it spoiled for you.
Running away from her forced polygamous marriage leads 17-year-old Rhine Ellery straight into a trap: a twisted carnival whose ringmistress desires the beautiful and unusual Rhine as her star attraction. But with Gabriel - her lover and fellow escapee - Rhine remains determined to reach Manhattan, find her twin brother, Rowan, and start a life far from the gilded prisons that have confined her.
The road to freedom is long and perilous - and in a world where women only live to the age of 20 and men die at 25 - time is very precious. And worse still, Rhine's sinister father-in-law, Vaughn, is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion... by any means necessary.
In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano's harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide is freedom is worth the price - now she has more to lose than ever. From the blurb.
Wow. Words cannot describe how I feel about this book. I thought I would be reading a book as amazing as Wither, but I didn't expect it to be so much better - or so different!
You can see from the blurb above that Wither is described as "harrowing" - well, I have no idea what Fever would be described as. Fever is much more like the dystopian novels I've come to know; where Wither, though awful, was all about the waiting game so Rhine can earn Linden's trust to try and escape, with Fever, Rhine and Gabriel are thrown from one disgustingly appalling and dangerous situation to the next. Seriously, there is no let up for a large part of the book. They may have escaped the mansion, but that was just the first step, and they are both still a long way from Manhattan.
This book is completely heartbreaking. On their way to Manhatten, Rhine and Gabriel meet a range of characters, and you get a better understanding of how the virus is effecting other people. In Wither, we think Rhine has it bad because of being kidnapped and forced into marriage to Linden, but, despite knowing the things Vaughn gets up to in his basement of horrors, reading Fever, I started to think she had it quite good, compared to others. We know that those girls who Linden didn't pick to be his wives were shot by the Gatherers, and now part of me thinks that was probably for the best, for them. Not everyone is as lucky to be killed. Some girls have to live, and are sold into prostitution, and have to suffer the intrusive violation from more men than you could count, day in, day out - and somehow manage to find the strength to survive this awful life. We also see the desperately sorry lives that are lived by the parents who are left behind when their children die, and the lives of orphaned children. It's almost like each page brings something more, each page another heavy weight on your heart - but this is the world these people live in, from which, without an antidote, there shall never be escape.
There are moments of hope, when things look like they are finally looking up, but each time... it's crushed. Even as the reader, you come to distrust situations that look hopeful, that look like things may just work out ok, that Rhine and Gabriel's lives have taken a small step in the right direction, because after so much, can there really be anything good left? And how can it be enjoyed when so many others are suffering so much? But it's not until the final chapters do we realise that DeStefano has been playing with us. I don't want to spoil anything for you, but dear god. I have put this book down, and despite how it ends, I feel completely numb. It is a wonder to me how people have the strength to go on sometimes, to try and survive, to try and live. With this book, if I lived in this world, I could easily see myself giving in and waiting to die, or simply losing my mind, because I wouldn't want to, no, couldn't face the things these characters have too.
I'm not going to say any more, other than that Fever is one of the most heartbreaking, demoralising, and emotionally draining - yet completely and utterly brilliant novels I have ever had the honour of reading. Really. I really don't think there's anyone who wouldn't be hurt by this book, but for all the right reasons. Phenomenal. I cannot wait to read Sever, the third and final book in this incredible series.
Thank you to Harper Voyager for the review copy.
Published: 16th February 2012
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Buy on Amazon US
Lauren DeStefano's Website
My other reviews from the series:
Wither (The Chemincal Garden Book 1)