Review: Fever (Chemical Gardens #2) by Lauren DeStefano

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Pages: 341 pages (hardcover)
Release Date: February 21 2012
Source: Purchased.
Rating:4 out of 5 stars.

Blurb (from Amazon.co.uk)

For 17-year-old Rhine Ellery, a daring escape from a suffocating polygamous marriage is only the beginning…

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.

Review (full review posted on Goodreads.com)

Fever takes up where Wither left off, with the escape of Rhine and Gabriel from the opulent mansion where she was a Gothic-style prisoner and he was a servant.

And it never bloody slows down.

From the new capture of the couple to their daring escape, to their lonely trek to Manhatten and Rhine’s subsequent recapture, the book – despite about half of it being flashback, pondering, and the delirium of the ‘fever’ the book is named after – the story moves at a breakneck speed that left me breathless. After the first book, Wither, took place over nearly ten months, it was a shock to live so briefly in Rhine’s head again.

I’m pleased to announce I had another big emotional response as well. During the part early-ish on when Rhine, Gabriel, Lilac and Maddie are hiding in the long grass from Madame, and Rhine has a flashback to her Gathering, I swear I felt Rhine’s terror. I’ve never been so scared reading a book in all my life, except when I first read Black Beauty and was convinced the titular character was going to die several times. But hey, I was seven. Cut me some slack.

I loved the way this book developed. This is a sequel to rival its first book. Not exactly better – I still had an issue with the plot. This time it was because Rhine was oh-so-special because she ‘happened’ to look like Madame’s dead daughter, so she got preferential treatment and despite living with prostitutes, was not expected to service customers of her own. I mean, yeah sure, I get that Rhine has to have interesting stuff happen to her but I kept thinking, ‘Oh God, I hope the whole book isn’t about living with Madame, otherwise it’ll be just like the first book.’ Rhine’s special, again, because she looks like the deceased loved one of the most powerful person. Luckily, this didn’t last as long as I thought it would.

The only other issue I had is completely out of DeStefano’s hands. I don’t like how damn big my version of the book is. It’s hard to hold in one hand and read. I love the cover – except for those stupid circles again! It’s making the subtleties of the cover way too obvious, and it annoys me. Kudos to whoever read the book and said, ‘We need the following details,’ but really. I can figure out what the points of interest are just by looking and reading the book. Those circles are stupid and pointless if you’ve not read it, and redundant if you have.

I loved the development of Rhine and Gabriel’s relationship. They’re so realistic to me. They have issues and communication problems just like everyone else. They aren’t perfect: they’re simply two people, bound by a love they haven’t even voiced yet. And Rhine’s got goals beyond just being with Gabriel.

The development of the plot outside of Rhine and Gabriel’s journey was handled pretty subtly. Without spoiling, it’s all coming together for a huge climax in Book 3.

What else can I say about this? I love Lauren’s prose so much that I was swept into the narrative. She has a magical way with words. It’s her literary background, I believe. Everything about the technique is perfect.

I for one am terribly anticipating Book 3. Please, please don’t call it ‘Ever’.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Fever (Chemical Gardens #2) by Lauren DeStefano

    • Lissa says:

      Yes, I think it’s a fantastic title. I said to Lauren all through reading Fever I kept thinking ‘please don’t call Book 3 ‘Ever”. She told me ‘Ever’ was never on the cards. THANK GOD. It’s a cheap cop out that Steifvater (Forever) and White (Endlessly) got lumped with.

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