Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: YA Dystopia
How I Read It: Hard cover purchased by me.
Synopsis: 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 this 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.
*Synopsis taken from the book jacket
My Review: The end of Wither had Rhine and Gabriel escaping off into the Atlantic, assuming that the hardest part of their journey was behind them. Very early into Fever, we learn that’s not entirely true. The world Rhine tried so hard to get back into is actually a lot more harsh than it seemed while she was in the mansion, although if that’s simply her remembering things with rose colored glasses, or just a lack of knowledge, remains to be seen.
This novel can really be broken into three sections, all kind of bleak and a reminder that this really is a broken down society. The first generations we encounter through much of the book seem to place little value on the lives of the kids involved – unless those kids happen to be their own. And many of them have ultimately stopped having children, since they know they would be giving their offspring an expiration date from the start. As a result, they seem to think they can take liberties with these kids that they wouldn’t normally take, which is one of the most heartbreaking things in this series. It’s bad enough that the poor people only get to live until they’re 20 or 25, but to enslave them during that short life makes it almost unbearable for me to read.
As a result of all that, Rhine and Gabriel eventually don’t even know who they can trust. If it’s not a first generation trying to take advantage of them, there is just as much of a chance that a person their own age is working for one of those corrupt people. I guess that when you don’t have much life left to live, it becomes more difficult to care about what happens to those around you?
We also delve a little more into the pro-naturalist movement, which represents the group of people who essentially don’t believe humanity is worth saving. Or that there is no antidote for the virus that is killing their children. It is, obviously, opposed by the pro-science movement, the people who are actively working to find a cure in some way. Although it’s not conveyed outright in the book, I have a feeling that the malformed children, including Rhine and Rowan, are in some way related to the eventual cure. The narrative mentions several times that malformed children don’t usually live long, that they often die as a result of their birth defect, or are killed by the other people around them. However, what if their malformation is really just their DNA trying to fight the other stuff that would cause them to die in their 20s? If they were protected and cared for, maybe those children would grow up to be regular adults with a normal life span. This is all pure speculation on my part. But I will say that I saw 28 Weeks Later so I have a feeling that those eyes have something to do with it all.
Since this is the second book in the trilogy, we end on a bit of a cliffhanger. There are a lot of things that are revealed during the second half of the book, but even more questions are opened up. The big ones for me, and probably a lot of readers, are…will Rhine find Rowan? What on earth is Vaughn up to? What secrets were Rhine’s parents keeping from her? And…will someone come up with a cure before it’s too late for Rhine?
Read this book if: This was a decent middle book. It wasn’t as good as Wither, but it’s still worth reading, and obviously you’ll want to continue the series!
My Rating: 3.5/5 – Two thumbs up, fine holiday fun!