Book Reviews The Fever

Published on September 10th, 2014 | by Michaela Buckley

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The Fever – Megan Abbott

It’s been a long time since I was so obsessively reading a book, the feeling of wanting to just go one page further has long since disappeared along with most of my more exciting teenage years, so it was with no large expectation that I began The Fever shortly after reading an article by another who was in the same predicament.

The suspense is stretched taut over a small community centred around the local high school, at least that’s how Deenie sees the hub of her life. The perspective of the Nash family, a teenage girl called Deenie, her older brother Eli and father Tom who teaches Chemistry at the school.
When one of Deenie’s best friends has a violent seizure during class, the doctors, press, students and parents all become fixated on the mysterious surge of seizures following it.

While it’s as addictive as everyone says it is, the thrilling nature of the book mostly comes from over-dramatising events and dropping off sentences. The use of phrases such as ‘and then something unexpected happened’ makes most events seem revelatory.

Abbott writes for the teen audience, with the melodrama being aimed at them as well as serving as a depiction of the teenage generation as a whole, the novel dishes up some characters that suit the thriller genre well, as it complements the general dramatic attitude of teenagers, making it a good read for adults viewing the youth culture of today. The shocks can seem kind of cheap, but still adds to the excitement of the novel.

Abbott writes in the style of Stephen King, the brevity of Bret Easton Ellis and the outlook of Ira Levin, there are lots of themes that are tackled which have previously been addressed in the aforementioned authors’ works, adolescence, feminism, health. There are also some great concepts and the book throws ever more layers to the veneer of mystery, using language as a powerful tool, to discomfort and prey on the reader, the bats, lake and creepy crawly allusions make for some illustrated writing.

The Fever UK edition Abbott cover

UK Edition

Every character and piece of dialogue is brimming with identity, each suspicious and suspecting, always full of intrigue. As the narrative unwinds the tension begins to heat up until the final arc, but the ending just isn’t quite as fulfilling by the time you put down the book, you are hungry for more, more of The Fever but also more Megan Abbott.

The novel ends up being revolved around hype and doesn’t quite live up to its own promise, hinged on a self-aware joke, that in the end, didn’t have enough velocity to escape the gravitational pull of its unsatisfying ending. Sadly, almost anyone could say that the entire focus of a narrative was to highlight a fine point as a means to explain away a disappointing flaw.

Despite the issue I had with it, I enjoyed the book immensely, it is a great achievement, at least on my part as a reader, as well as being a good book for a variety of different people, adults can immerse themselves in the canny situations involving modern youths, with the added informative pleasure of witnessing the events unfurl with the catalyst of web-based technology and I can also imagine that it could grip male readers, its paranoiac precision evokes Levin greatly.

Energetic, inspiring, thought-provoking and compelling. However mildly disappointing it is, to put it down in words seems an injustice to a book which was highly enjoyable 95% of the time.

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