Friday, October 12, 2012

Review of Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Fever (The Chemical Garden, #2) ***FEVER IS BOOK TWO IN THE CHEMICAL GARDEN TRILOGY. THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR WITHER***

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who 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 if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.


I fell in love with Wither by Lauren DeStefano when it first came out, much like any other bloggers.  Once I heard ARCs of Fever were available, I made an effort to search one out. Fever is different from Wither in a lot of ways, and although I enjoyed reading it, DeStefano’s sophomore novel left me wondering if the Chemical Garden Trilogy has a strong enough premise to stand out amidst a sea of dystopian novels written for teens.

Wither is the story of a girl whose existence has been broken living in a beautiful but dangerous place whereas Fever is the story of a girl trying to start anew in a world that is falling apart.  The segment of DeStefano’s world that we see in Fever is colder, darker, and more brutal than what we saw in Wither, and so are the images that DeStefano paints.  Instead of hearing about Rhine’s eye make-up, we read about the flawed world around her.  While I don’t think DeStefano’s writing actually went downhill, sometimes it felt that way because of the change in imagery.

The plot of this book is bizarrely paced, and I don’t think it quite worked.  DeStefano threw in a big twist towards the end and while it fitted with the story, I got a sense of déjà vu as I read.  I could see why she chose it, but when I think about it in comparison to other dystopian books, I’m a little underwhelmed.  If dystopian novels start to feel like other books in their genre, then I don’t think they set out what they intend to do, because the reader loses some of the shock value and horror.

Fever has left me feeling uncertain. While there were interesting plot points, it left me feeling unsure about whether or not the core premise of this series is original enough to make DeStefano’s books stand out.  Sever is a book that I eager to pick up, but it will take some major twists or impeccable world-building to convince me that DeStefano can write exceptional dystopian novels.

Disclosure: I borrowed an ARC of this book from a friend and later purchased my own finished copy.

1 comment:

  1. I agree about the pacing-there were bursts of excitement and then it was kind of boring while they waited for something else. Still I really liked the ending and I definitely want to pick up Sever.

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