Wow, I really want to get this review started. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon:
“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.”
1. The reality is so refreshing to see in YA
There are a lot of YA books that disguise the fact that teenagers are having sex, smoking pot, drinking, and cursing. They try to paint these kids as little angels who always do what they’re told when in reality, that is so not the case. There was talk of virginity, the HPV vaccine was mandatory by the town’s school, and casual drinking by the main brother/sister duo. I enjoy truth like this. Add in some heavy cursing, and you’ll have a picture painted of real life. This was my first favorite thing about this book.
2. The entire book revolves around love – but without a love triangle.
Okay, so to stick to my spoiler-free guarantee, I’m not going to tell you the ending. Me saying that the book revolved around love is not a spoiler. You probably could’ve figured that out because this is YA we’re talking about. Anyway, it’s not even the love you think – the icky, mushy, “baby I love you” love. We’re talking about a father or mother’s love for their child (or lack thereof), a sister and brother’s love for each other, friends loving their friends. A lot of relationships come into play in this book, and a lot of love is questioned and re-defined and shifted. This is one of my favorite parts of the book. I never knew how to feel about anyone at any time. By the end, I didn’t feel a lot of closure, but I did feel that the characters would be okay. Don’t you worry about that, too? I always wonder if, after the last page, the characters will have a good life. Is that weird? I don’t care. I’ll think about it anyway.
3. This was my first Megan Abbott novel and I am completely and utterly floored by her writing.
I told her this on Twitter. I told her phenomenal doesn’t even begin to describe her writing in an honest way. An adjective does not exist for me to convey to you or anyone how absolutely brilliant and magical her writing is. The language was elevated. The metaphors were amazing. There wasn’t any time where I thought Abbott was wishy-washy; I feel that when I read a lot of books. I don’t know how Abbott can continually live with this brilliance inside her head, because I would go insane! She’s amazing. Even if you don’t read this book, I think you should at least pick up one of Abbott’s books and read the first page.
4. The main character reminds me of me in high school.
Deenie Nash is really nice. That is the best way to describe Deenie. She’s nice. As far as I can tell, she’s unremarkable, on the cusp of popularity, but not quite having it thrust upon her. She’s included in the inner circle, but is a little bit on the outside. The book always describes how beautiful and ethereal her friends Gabby and Lise are, which leads me to assume she is just…nice. She does some things she regrets. She has a broken home and handles it relatively well. She deals with having to shift feelings about her friends and her family. She is brave in ways I never could be regarding these situations. I applaud Deenie for being unapologetically herself through the book and through her friends being sick and potentially dying. I thought Deenie was going to lose it to be honest. I felt it coming. You’ll love her.
5. The points of view had me whipping back and forth like I was watching a tennis match.
Especially towards the end, wow. We get a lot of point of views. They’re mainly Deenie, her brother Eli, and her father Tom. Then, towards the end, there is one chapter with Lise’s point of view and it. was. awesome. I like when authors do this mainly because it keeps me guessing. I never know when I’m going to come back to that character’s narration, so I get engrossed in the next part of the story. Then, I’m taken back to the first character and I am just excited to get to what happens next. Almost like a weekly sitcom, but right in front of my eyes. It was so great, especially since Deenie’s dad is a teacher at the school. This puts a whole new perspective on him as a father, as well.
6. I would like to address the similarities and differences between this book and Conversion by Katherine Howe
I was seeing a lot of people talking about how these two books are “exactly” the same. They are not – to begin, the characters have different names. I did see many similarities between the two, but not for a second could I confuse the two books. Conversion feels more to me like a re-telling or re-imagining of The Crucible while The Fever takes the themes from The Crucible and translates them into our modern day. There is no actual illness in The Fever. This is a mean girl tale. The similarities, though, are glaring. Many things are similar including our main character getting anonymous text messages. (That happens in both books). BUT I can love each book for what it is, and I adore both books separately.
Overall: FOUR STARS!! I’m only taking one star away because it took SO long to catch me. There was a lot of set-up to this book, and that’s okay. This was great if you love mystery, friendship, different instances of love, and a little bit of hysteria. This book is already in the world, so clicky clicky on the link to order! (Or, you could do what I did, and wait two weeks for it at the library. My copy has a sticker on the spine that says 14 DAY LOAN ONLY so you can see how in demand this book is. Good thing I’m a fast reader!)