Title: The Fever
Author: Megan Abbott
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown and Co.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Deenie Nash is very close to her two best friends, Lise and Gabby; they’ve known each other for years and attend high school together. But when Lise suffers a mysterious seizure and is rushed to the hospital, everything changes in an instant. Their tight-knit community begins to point fingers at one another, long-held truths are suddenly questioned, and secrets are revealed as people panic about the seeming new pandemic that no one can explain.
The Fever by Megan Abbott provides insightful social commentary while also portraying the difficult nature of teenage girls, what they are capable of, and what they desire most in this disturbing novel.
Megan Abbott has displayed an uncanny ability to get inside the heads of teenage girls in previous books, and that continues in The Fever. She writes about the tensions and warring impulses of high school—the fears, the passions, the uncertainties—so very well. It’s hard to believe you aren’t witnessing the thoughts of an actual teenager. This psychological aspect is really the best part of the novel, living all those emotions through these girls.
Abbott also focuses on the panic involved when something unexplained occurs in a close society in The Fever. From anti-vaccination brigades to to environmentalists to people who think sex and promiscuity is the cause of every problem, there’s a lot of social commentary going on in this novel. It’s never overt, and Abbott doesn’t try to lean on any one message, instead describing the fear associated with something like this, and the comfort of having a go-to answer, even if it’s plainly wrong.
The three girls, Deenie, Lise, and Gabby, are interesting, though they’re hard to differentiate. I constantly was getting them confused, as they don’t really have distinctive voices in The Fever. Still, Abbott captures them well, commenting on the teenage experience and unnervingly depicting the changeable nature of teens and their capabilities for good, but also for deviousness and treachery.
If you haven’t read Megan Abbott yet and are interested in psychological aspects of books, then you absolutely should pick up her novels. They are disturbing and frank, but also well-written and page-turning. Though I had some issues with The Fever, I still enjoyed reading it, intent on discovering what was beyond each page and finding the answer to this strange and unnerving mystery.
Other books by Megan Abbott: