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The Fever

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In this impossible-to-put-down "panic attack of a novel," a small-town high school becomes the breeding ground for a mysterious illness.

Deenie Nash is a diligent student with a close-knit family; her brother Eli is a hockey star, and her father is a popular teacher. But when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class, the Nashes' seeming stability dissolves into chaos. As rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through school, and hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families, and the town's fragile sense of security.

The Fever is a chilling story about guilt, lies, and the lethal power of desire.

307 pages, Hardcover

First published June 17, 2014

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About the author

Megan Abbott

68 books5,531 followers
Megan Abbott is the Edgar®-winning author of the novels Die a Little, Queenpin, The Song Is You, Bury Me Deep, The End of Everything, Dare Me, The Fever, You Will Know Me and Give Me Your Hand.

Abbott is co-showrunner, writer and executive producer of DARE ME, the TV show adapated from her novel. She was also a staff writer on HBO's THE DEUCE. Her writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Believer and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Born in the Detroit area, she graduated from the University of Michigan and received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University. She has taught at NYU, SUNY and the New School University and has served as the John Grisham Writer in Residence at The University of Mississippi.

She is also the author of a nonfiction book, The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir, and the editor of A Hell of a Woman, an anthology of female crime fiction. She is currently developing two of her novels, Dare Me and The Fever, for television.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,148 reviews
June 24, 2014
"The first time, you can’t believe how much it hurts.”

“It just kind of burns,” says another. “You’re sore for a few days. I heard by the third time, you don’t even feel it.”
This is from the prologue, and no, these girls are not talking about losing the big V.

This is an extremely hard book for me to rate. On the one hand, I enjoyed the writing. On the other hand, there was nothing remotely scary about it, and overall, I felt like I was led on a merry trail filled with red herrings that looked like Jenny McCarthy screaming that vaccines are evil.

It was filled with teenaged pettiness, and it wasn't scary in the least. It did creep me out, but not in the "Omg this is scary!" kind of way, more like the "Oh, dude, the dad is so totally gross in a sorta Kevin-Spacey-in-American-Beauty-kind of way, like did he seriously say THAT about his little girl's best friend? Eww!" kind of way.

Wow, that was a long sentence.

Almost nothing happens in this book. Don't expect creepiness. From the cover, I totally thought this was going to be similar to the Japanese horror sort of books where a long-haired, scary as fuck girl crawls slowly up the foot of your bed as she slowly grins at you through blood-filled eyes. But no. Nope. Nothing like that at all. Not for a single moment did I remotely approach the feeling of fear.

So here's the good:

1. The writing is quite good, bravo, Ms. Abbott
2. Family dynamics is great, even if the brother and the dad totally squicked me out sometimes

Seriously, nothing happens in this book.

The Summary: There are three narrators in this book, father Tom Nash, a science teacher at the local high school, and his children, Eli and younger Deenie (Denise), both in high school.

It is a quiet town, it is a dead town, and it is a quiet, unevent high school life until a girl starts foaming at the mouth.
Her desk overturned, clattering to the floor.
And with it Lise. Her head twisting, slamming into the tiles, her bright red face turned up, mouth teeming with froth.
That was Lise, Deenie's best friend, and everyone in school has their theories. Some dumber than others, from a grand mal seizure, here referred to as grand male by the brilliant young ladies at the school.
“She had a grand male in Algebra Two,” Brooke announced, eyes popping.
The jocks broke into a fresh round of laughter.
“A grand mal?” he asked, squinting. “A seizure?”
To pregnancy.
“Is she pregnant?” whispered Kim, her tongue thrust between her wired teeth.
“Pregnant people faint all the time,” Kim said, tugging her tights up her legs.
To a sexual parasite.
“He had a big house on the lake and he gave her all this great red-string Thai stick. He leaves for the Philippines, she wakes up with trich. That’s a sexual parasite. It crawls inside you.” She reached down for her bag, tangled with fringe. “So.”
To Toxic Shock Syndrome...
Have u heard of toxik shok? tampax can kill u
Then another girl falls sick, and the town runs rampant with theories.

The end.

Yeah, that is literally it.

The Characters: The one thing that stands out about the main characters in this book is the level of creepy sexuality within the family. I don't mean in an incestuous way, but I thought it was pointlessly sexual at many points.

We have a creepy, sad dad. Tom Nash. A middle-aged schoolteacher whose wife has left him for a more exciting life and a married lover. A man who has seriously creepy observations about his teenaged daughter's friends. Lise, Deenie's best friend, whom he has watched grown up.
He’d known Lise Daniels since she was ten years old and first started coming to the house, hovering around Deenie, following her from room to room. Sometimes he swore he could hear her panting like a puppy. That was back when she was a chubby little elfin girl, before that robin’s-breast belly of hers disappeared, and, seemingly overnight, she became overwhelmingly pretty, with big fawn eyes, her mouth forever open.
And recalling how Lise looks in a swimsuit.
Tom felt his face warm. Last summer he’d seen Lise in a two-piece. From across the town pool, from behind, he’d mistaken her for one of Deenie’s swim instructors. Carla, the graduate student in kinesiology who always teased him about needing a haircut.
It's not out of place. I mean, I know perfectly well that middle-aged men (and let's be honest, most men in general) have sexual thoughts about pubescent women, but I just found it very creepy and odd reading about it in a book where it felt out of place.

His son Eli, is somewhat a school stud. All the girls line up for him, he gets constant texts to hook up, and he is oddly conscious about his sister's sexuality. I don't get the sense that it is incestuous, and again, I understand that this sort of dynamic will probably exist between siblings of similar age, but not having a male sibling, I can only imagine. It's still pretty weird.
There’d be those moments he was forced to think about her not just as Deenie but as the girl whose slender tank tops hung over the shower curtain. Like bright streamers, like the flair the cheerleaders threw at games.
And when he's having sex in the room next to his sister, he's conscious of her, in the next room.
Since then, he could only ever think about his sister, one wall away. And how he hoped Deenie never did things like this. With guys like him.
So why not just avoid the situation, man. And he sees sexuality in his sister's eyes, the way another boy would see her.
But she didn’t realize what they saw, looking back at her: a girl, lips slightly parted, her head tilted hungrily. What they saw was I’m ready. Let’s go.
Again, I don't have a sibling, but I can't say I've ever looked at my sister in any kind of way and imagine a guy interpreting sexuality through her facial expression. It's far too much.

And geez, Eli's stud status is so overemphasized in this book. He gets a ton of texts from girls wanting to hook up and sending him PIXXXX.
Eli Nash looked at the text for a long time, and at the photo that had come with it. A girl’s bare midriff.
Eli, for you xxxx!
His dad notices that he ignores the flocks of girls coming after him, and makes a note in his mind that it makes his son even more popular. He has to fend off the number of girls who just want to spread their legs for him.
Did she want him to text her back, invite her over? To sneak her into his bedroom and nudge her shaky, pliant legs apart until he was through?
Hell, even his sister Deenie falls victim to Eli's promiscuous ways. It's pretty gross, she receives lewd text messages meant for him.
One of the texts had said—Deenie never forgot it—my pussy aches for u. It had to have been the worst thing she’d ever read. She’d read it over and over before deleting it.
She also overhears him having sex in the next room. Ugh.
Once, a few weeks ago, she’d heard a girl’s voice in there and wondered if it was porn on the computer until she could tell it wasn’t. She heard the voice say Eli’s name. E-liiii.
I understand that sex is a normal thing, but in this book, it just felt squicky and out of place. There was really not much point for it in the narrative, other than a break from the constant monotony.

I just really don't have a lot to say about this book. It was tremendously dull. All the characters were pretty dumb. The teenagers are nitwits. The mystery was a letdown. There's a tremendous amount of misogyny, too, because both the Tom and his son Eli don't seem to have a good opinion about any females in the book besides their daughter and sister.
He could tell she was the kind of woman who told men what they wanted to hear. That didn’t strike him as a bad thing, even though he knew it should.
Profile Image for karen.
3,978 reviews170k followers
June 24, 2018
oh, megan abbott.

she does such a good job of writing bad girls.

i have loved her neo-noir books with their saucy femmes fatales, but her last three books have all been contemporary fiction spilling all the secrets of mean girls and their strategies or laying bare the dark side of the modern teenage girl's coming of age and entrée into sexuality. this one does both.

it's a crawly story of an epidemic that begins plaguing the girls, and only the girls, of one suburban high school, causing seizures, hallucinations, and a community-wide panic. is it a result of the polluted lake nearby, with its urban legends and fluorescent algae? is it a side effect of the HPV vaccination to which the girls have been strongly encouraged to submit? or is it something more insidious and supernatural in nature? the not-knowing is what drives this story, as more and more girls succumb, while the boys treat it all like one grand joke.

"You're all going down." The other boy laughed, beats thrumming through the open mouths of his headphones. "One by one."

which is echoed by deenie's earlier observation about the loss of virginity amongst the other girls in the school:

Sexual debut. Sometimes it seemed to Deenie that high school was like a long game of And Then There Were None. Every Monday, another girl's debut.

in this way, the epidemic seems to be tied in some way to female sexuality, as the novel keeps emphasizing the onset of the illness with the sexual histories of the girls. deenie has just lost her virginity, unexpectedly, to someone she feels guilty about having attracted. as her closest friends are taken ill, she keeps her secret, feeling that it is all somehow her fault as she remains unaffected.

it's a tight and haunting story as the situation escalates, and abbott does a fantastic job creating the life of a close-knit community and its secrets and crimes. as we learn more about the people making up the community; the social and sexual politics of high school girls, the long-incubated romantic yearnings, the failures of parents and the helplessness of a town in crisis, the story becomes much larger than i had anticipated, and once again she has managed to convey perfectly that particular minefield that is adolescence. another dark and bloody gem from megan abbott. if you have never read her, it's time to remedy that.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,812 followers
January 30, 2014
(I received an ARC of this from NetGalley for this review.)

The whole time I was reading this I had to fight the urge to walk around imitating Christopher Walken from that famous Saturday Night Live skit. “I got a FEVER and the only prescription is more Megan Abbott!”

Sorry. I had to get that out of my system….

Deenie Nash is a pretty typical American teenage girl. She lives with her school teacher father Tom and her brother Eli. After her best friend Lise has a seizure in class followed by more girls becoming violently ill, a wave of hysteria rises which makes all of them examine what they thought they knew about the people around them.

Megan Abbott showed her impressive noir chops in great books like The Song Is You and Queenpin, and in her more recent work (Dare Me) she’s been illustrating how the inner lives and social circles of teenage girls can be a darker and scarier topic than mob-owned night clubs or the seamier side of Hollywood. She’s outdone herself in The Fever by starting with a simple premise of a mysterious illness causing panic, and then using it to touch the variety of things that would come up in any teenage girl’s life. When Deenie is jealous of her friend Gabbie’s new relationship with the odd Skye or struggling to understand her adolescent sexual urges or angry at her mother for leaving her father it makes adult reader remember the confused emotionality that goes along with teenagers.

What impressed me even more than her ability to put us inside the head of a teenage girl was how Ms. Abbott also nails the male side of the equation. Tom is a single dad trying to do his best for his kids but still constantly feels like he’s failing them in one way or another. Eli is a handsome hockey star who is bewildered by the attention he gets from girls, but that doesn’t stop him from occasionally hooking up with one of them. Tom and Eli often regard Deenie and her friends as mysterious creatures best observed from some distance.

Another terrific aspect is how authentic the reaction of the community is portrayed. Parents embracing conspiracy theories based on no evidence and pointing fingers at school administrators and government health workers is exactly the kind of irrational and panic-stricken total bat-shit freak-out that would occur.

Mystery illness, paranoia, teenage angst, high school politics, sex, divorce, environmental issues, social media gossip…… This book has something for everyone and proves once again that if you aren’t reading Megan Abbott, you should be.

Also posted at Kemper's Book Blog.
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
485 reviews808 followers
February 3, 2018
My "Girls Girls Girls" jag concludes with The Fever, the 2014 thriller by Megan Abbott. This is my fourth venture into the fiction of the Edgar Award winner who alternates between 20th century noir and between mysteries set in the present day, where high school girls use cell phones to destroy their enemies instead of a .45. This novel proves again that Abbott can write psychologically nuanced and compelling teenaged characters without being slave to the brain dead conventions of the Young Adult genre, but in tackling an outbreak storyline, baits her hook with lures that I wasn't biting on.

Deenie Nash is a sixteen-year-old high school sophomore in Dryden, a town of perpetual cloud cover that hints at the tempest brewing within its young women. Deenie's brother Eli is a popular hockey player with a parade of freshmen groupies. Their father is a well-liked chemistry teacher at their high school. Deenie's two best friends are Gabby Bishop and Lise Daniels. Gabby is a cello player who obtained a certain star power when her mother survived a brutal attack by her cocaine addled, claw hammer wielding father, while Lise is a chubby gigglepuss who dieted, lost her baby fat and turned into a goddess overnight.

The most remarkable thing about Deenie might be her lark to let a hockey player from Star-of-the-Sea High School she works with at a pizza parlor give her a ride home and parking in the woods, give her her first time. Deenie avoids Lise at school the ext day in shame. Seated next to Deenie in class, Lise goes into a seizure and falls to the floor. Two football players help carry her to the nurse's office, where Lise remains lucid, but bites the arm of the school nurse. She's retrieved by her protective mom. Hoping to share her news with Gabby, Deenie is unable to pry her friend away from a bohemian named Skye Osbourne too cool for school with plenty of pet theories on Lise.

No one said anything for a moment. Skye was somehow to be trusted in these matters. It was part of her mystique. That white-blond hair and thrift-store peacoat, the slave bracelets and green vinyl cowboy boots. Sunny, the artist aunt she lived with but whom Deenie had never seen and who let Skye's ex-boyfriend sleep over, even though he was supposedly twenty-six years old, though no one had actually seen him either. The rumor was he'd been one of her aunt's students, even her boyfriend. After they broke up, Skye wore his coat, a long leather Shaft duster, to school every day until a hard winter rain shredded it.

Encouraged by Gabby to cut class, Deenie attempts to visit Lise at home. She discovers that her friend has been transported to the hospital with a seizure. Reporting to the hospital with her father that night, Deenie learns that Lise suffered a cardiac arrest and hit her head on the coffeetable. Sneaking into Lise's hospital room, Deenie isn't convinced that the girl in the bed is Lise. Her philandering mother having moved to another town some time ago and her father difficult to confide to, Deenie loses her pillar of strength when Gabby collapses into a seizure during an orchestra recital. A video of the attack goes viral and Dryden begins to become unhinged with hysteria.

Eli encounters Lise's mother on their driveway at the crack of dawn, babbling about "the dangers our girls suffer at your hands." When Lise goes to visit Gabby, she finds Skye there with another hanger-on named Kim Court. During their visit, Gabby's jaw goes into uncontrolled convulsions. Lise's mother blames the mystery illness on the HPV vaccine that the school district recommended for its teenaged female students "before sexual debut," while Deenie has started to think more about Dryden Lake, a dead body of water with algae blooms that has drawn its swimmers, including Deenie's mother before she left them, and more recently, Lise, Gabby and Deenie.

When Kim Court is wheeled out of school in a gurney, Deenie is able to rule out the HPV vaccine as the perpetrator because Kim never received the shot. Kim posts a video of herself in the hospital and casts suspicion on Deenie, the common link between all the girls who are falling ill. State health officials begin to investigate while all parents and their paranoid teen daughters can do is speculate about the lake, the groundwater or something poisonous in the school. Deenie's sleuthing reveals that Lise was fooling around in the bushes by the school with a boy who Gabby believes was Eli. Deenie's brother, meanwhile, has misplaced his phone and become an object of affection for Skye.

As he approached the classroom, he saw another girl lurking, but this one didn't seem sickly or afraid.

It was Skye Osbourne, wearing a long scarf the same color as her mouth, like those dark figs that hung from the tree by the practice rink every fall, the ones that split under your skates.

And this time it felt like she was looking for him.

"Ditch with me," she said, nodding her head toward the double doors.

He stopped, headphones still on.


"Because," she said, a slanting smile. "I'm pretty."

Funnily, Eli wasn't sure Skye was pretty.

If he saw her without all that hair, which looked like it'd been stripped from a corncob and massed thick, and without all the things she draped over and on top of herself, the scarves and snake rings and coiling bracelets, he wondered if he'd recognize her at all.

"What's the point of here," she added, waving something in her hand, a joint, a white Bic.

What's the point of here, he thought, looking at that fig mouth of hers.

Megan Abbott has all the pieces to deliver a compelling outbreak drama with The Fever. Her characters are distinguishable in both behavior and dialogue and most of them have qualities that cut more than skin deep. Deenie, Gabby and Lise are believable teenagers, as is Eli, and I was ready to be emotionally invested in them as doomsday set in. I'm always grateful to find a teenage heroine in fiction who is sexually active and not treated like a pariah by her author. I'm also distrustful of plot and grateful that Abbott didn't try to write a medical thriller, but her novel is killed by ponderous existentialism.

One of my favorite writing tips comes from Trey Parker & Matt Stone, creators of South Park. Casual observers might not think the long running, crude animated series was a master course in narrative, but Parker's advice that every scene in a good story outline should end with the words "but" or "therefore" and lead into a new scene applies here. Stone's observation is that scenes concluding with "and then" before going somewhere else have been responsible for more messy movies than not. Novels too, like this one, which is one long "and then ... and then" after another. I grew disconnected and typing out my review summary, struggled to stay awake.

At the point in The Fever when the story needed to progress--with a quarantine, a race against the clock, a siege--there is instead too much wondering, speculating, reassuring. And repetition. I lost count of how many times characters stood around muttering, "Everything's going to be all right". Abbott was inspired by and this choice seems like one much better suited to a short story than a novel,. I'm enamored by Abbott's skill at plundering the insecurities of teenage girls and expressing it through powerful, imaginative writing, but these girls deserved a more compelling story than this.
Profile Image for Delee.
243 reviews1,106 followers
October 12, 2017
After reading Megan Abbott's Dare Me, and recently learning she was coming out with another twisted "mean girl" tale- I knew I had to get my hands on it. As soon as it came in the mail...I dropped everything else I was reading, so I could focus on Abbott's newest, dark and sinister novel- THE FEVER.

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Deenie's world is turned upside down when her best friend- Lise- starts convulsing on the floor in front of her entire class. After Lise is rushed to the hospital- rumors run rampant- kids texting and posting photos and gossip on social media sites. At first it seems like an isolated incident...

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...but when other girls start showing the same symptoms- seizures, hallucinations and strange tics- The town of Dryden goes into panic mode. Is it something in the town's water? Why only girls? Is it an STD? A reaction to the HPV vaccination? Is it female teenage hysteria? Or is it something darker and more personal...because the victims all seem to somehow connect to Deenie herself.

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THE FEVER is told from three different POVs-

Deenie Nash- a typical high school student- whose best friends Lise and Gabby were first to fall ill.

Eli Nash- Deenie's good looking brother, and heart throb to many a high school girl.

Tom Nash- Dennie and Eli's divorced father, main caregiver and beloved teacher at the high school.

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Megan Abbott is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Once again she delivers a mesmerizing look into the frightening world of the modern American teenager. If you haven't read one of her books yet...what are you waiting for? Hurry..go. Go now!! I will wait. *tap tap tap*

*ARC -Provided by publisher for review.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.4k followers
June 10, 2019
I don’t know what it is, but there is just something about Megan Abbott’s writing that is exactly my niche. She writes these brutal yet beautiful descriptions that feel as if they’re hitting me in the chest. She writes these characters I hate and want to hug at the same time, these horrible human beings somehow right on the page.

The Fever is a claustrophobic read, a book about the dynamic of small towns and the dynamic between parents and children. And it is a book about teenage girls, in all their flaws.

This entire concept succeeds because the characters here are immensely flawed, yet somehow they draw your empathy. Deenie, the lead, is a character stuck somewhere between naivete and adulthood. Her friends Gaby and Lise were both written excellently. And Mr. Nash got my empathy despite my hatred for him in the beginning.

I didn’t guess the answer to the mystery, but I honestly think it doesn’t matter if you do. This is a downright creepy book about the horrifying things teenage girls are capable of - the horrifying things we are all capable of, and exactly how scared we are of those who show it.

TW: heavy sex discussions and some of the weirdest imagery.

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Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,573 reviews5,900 followers
January 28, 2014
Crap. This book.
I think most of it I was just damned scared. Teenage girls.
They think the whole world revolves around them.

I've had some pretty bad experiences in RL with teenage girls who decided that something wrong was done to them and the means they will go to make someone pay. So this book for me is classified as horror. Real life flipping horror.

I almost didn't read this book after I realized the way it was headed. I can't say that I won't recommend it because honestly it's one of those it's not you book it's me moments for me.
Profile Image for Paula M.
547 reviews641 followers
November 13, 2018
I just wasted my time on a bunch of teenagers having problems about their virginities.


It's so weird guys.. so weird. I'm surprised I finished it. Kudos to Abbott's sophisticated writing. Too bad the multiple POV's has to ruin it.

So here's the gist. One by one, every girl in Deenie's town has been having seizures and hallucinations. No one seems to know the cause behind it. What's causing this contagious illness? Why girls only? But most importantly, WHY ISN'T DEENIE AFFECTED BY THIS CONTAGIOUS ILLNESS? Why isn't she in the hospital like her friends?

Excited and thrilled yet? Well trust me, you're not gonna stay that way. As I read through out the story I admit that I was deeply intrigued. You can see it on my status updates. But geez, the multiple POV's, unnecessary chapters and the bland and boring MC makes me want to hurt myself. You will notice that the author really gets out of her way just to confuse and make the readers think.

And when I finally got some answers, I LOST IT. I can't believe I've been through 80% dull chapters for that shallow and stupid reason. THAT IS THE REASON?! Just to give you a heads up, it wasn't really explained the WHY. Also the HOW. Also, when I started reading The Fever I had this feeling.. like, oh my word this is going to be insanely good or wait is this paranormal or gosh! this book might haunt me forever. STOP RIGHT THERE. Don't get your hopes up. And I don't want you to be crushed so I'll do you a favor. It's not paranormal. It's not gonna haunt you, unless you hurt yourself out of frustration then you will surely remember it. Insanely good???


Anyway I AM A BIG FAN of the writing, I really am. Actually, it was the only thing that kept me going. I was tempted (a lot of times!) to put this book down.. nothing is happening, the author keeps confusing me (and not in a good way), also all I got is it doesn't look like her, i feel different, blah blah blah..

Just staaaahp.

BTW, thanks Netgalley.. for nothing.

Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,919 reviews10.6k followers
January 26, 2014
When Deenie's best friend suffers a violent seizure in class, the students are shocked. When other girls begin suffering from mysterious ailments, chaos ensues as the community tries to find a cure. Is a strange illness caused by HPV the culprit? What about the town's polluted lake? Or is it just hysteria?

I got this from Netgalley.

After seeing Catching Fire in the theater, I noticed most of the teenage girls in the crowd were sobbing. I remarked on this the following Monday at work. One man, whose wife has been a teacher for 30 years, said his wife calls it "teenage girl hysteria. When one girl feels a strong emotion, pretty soon they all feel it." I don't know how accurate all of that is but it was on my mind when I began reading The Fever.

Before I forget to mention it, I had this cover song by The Cramps playing in my head portions of this book.

Anyway, The Fever is the tale of one girl falling victim to a mystery illness and the fallout from that event. Megan Abbott, as much as I love her noir tales, writes the hell out of what it's like to be a teenage girl during a time of crisis. It's like she used to be one or something...

I had a feeling what was up with the girls besides Lise who wound up in the hospital but it took me forever to figure out what actually happened to Lise. Megan paints a vivid picture of small town panic, high school girl politics, and how hard it must be to be the parent of a teenager. I think I'd rather be a guest at The Red Wedding than be a teenage girl in one of Megan Abbott's books.

The characters are well drawn. The Nash family were the POV characters for the novel. You've got the divorced dad who is a teacher at the high school where everything goes down, Eli, older son and star hockey player, and Deenie, the girl who knows all the girls who've fallen ill and is sure she'll be next.

Megan did a great job providing misdirection. I knew the HPV vaccine wasn't causing the trouble but she had me blaming the algae bloom in the polluted lake for part of the story, even though I was sure it was all in the girls' minds.

It was a great book. Megan Abbott makes teenage girl politics look like the Starks vs. The Lannisters. Four out of five stars.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Dana.
440 reviews290 followers
October 23, 2014
The first 70% percent of the novel...

Reading the first 70% of this novel felt like a penance for a terrible crime. It was so dull and reminded me of English class in high school where everyone would say everything in the longest way possible to meet the word requirement. This novel felt twice as long as it needed to be.

The last 30% of the novel...

The novel improved exponentially. It was interesting and suspenseful. Unfortunately it was just too little too late. The last bit of the story did buff away some of my resentment ,but I still mourned my time wasted from reading this

Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
September 9, 2016
My first thought was to compare Abbott's depiction of teenage girl politics to Lord of the Flies. A manic, intense world that feels somehow completely set apart from the rest of reality. But I think that comparison would undermine the complexity of what the author does. This book (and Dare Me) is about more than mean girls - though her "YA" novels contain more than their fair share of savagery and malice too - but it is also about every beautiful, unfortunate, disgusting detail of female adolescence. I can't wait for her to write more.
Profile Image for Jill.
349 reviews338 followers
February 13, 2014
The thing about red herrings is that they have to be believable. A red herring is plainly not a red herring if it doesn't inspire you to believe something false while distracting you from the truth.

The Fever is one giant trail of failed red herrings. Teenage girls are falling sick in a small town and the entire book hums along trying to find out why. We are presented with two main options: either the HPV vaccine has led to unanticipated side effects (an awful red herring because um, it's a real-life vaccine with real-life evidence showing its safety and efficacy--Abbott would have been better off creating a fake vaccine) or the toxic algae coating an off-limits local lake has infected the girls (again, an awful red herring because um, what? it should at least be sensical.)

There is too much jumping from character to character, a tactic that mainly serves to bamboozle and frustrate as you wait for a viable reason for the teenage girl plague. I gave up 52% through because Abbott and the characters were still languishing among the protozoan lake viruses and dangerous yet FDA-approved vaccine reasons, even though these options were ridiculous from the get-go.

I read someone's spoilers and the final solution is believable but nothing earth-shattering, certainly not incredible enough to justify countless meandering chapters lamely asking and never properly trying to answer "What could possibly be causing this disease???"

All in all, a big disappointment.
Profile Image for ❤Ninja Bunneh❤.
263 reviews173 followers
March 1, 2014


How the hell does an incredible sounding synopsis result in a craptastic book? Seriously, I just don't get it. If you read the blurb of this book, you expect horror, thrills, chills, maybe a little blood and gore. You expect to be shocked, scared out of your pants. Not even close.

I guess I should first explore the plot a little bit.





Oh, wait! There isn't one!! For the sake of this review, I shall attempt to put one together.

There are some random teen girls from Tiny Miny Town, USA. I won't even go into their names because honestly they are so interchangeable it doesn't really matter. Actually, all the characters sound exactly the same. Anyway, one of the girls suddenly suffers a seizure. She is whisked away to the hospital and it's all very hush hush. Another girl has a seizure, and another! What could possibly be plaguing these fabulous teens?!?!

It must be the fact that the girls got the HPV vaccine! YES! So for about 80% of the book, the reader is inundated with the fact that the HPV vaccine is bad. Excuse me, if I want to get a PSA about a vaccine (that actually helps prevent cervical cancer), I'll ask my fucking Gyno. I don't expect it to be the running plot point in a novel. Seriously. This book made me feel stabby.

There's also a lake that has algae in it. The girls are told not to go in the lake. But they do. DUH. Did I mention it has algae in it?

Finally, in the end, it isn't a fucking vaccination or a barely mentioned sinister lake. It's teen angst over a boy!!!!!! One friend poisoning another because the victim fooled around with a boy psycho-bitch has been in lurve with forever. Then for whatever reason, psycho-bitch decides to poison other girls just for shits and giggles I guess.
I am so done.

I wish I could get my 4 hours back.

Zero Ninja-Bunnehs

(ARC received in exchange for an honest review.)
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,574 reviews271 followers
August 12, 2022
“I have another friend who gets what I’m really like, and I get her. She scares me. Did you ever see yourself times ten in another person and want to cover your eyes?”
― Megan Abbott, The Fever

After reading and not really liking, "You will know me" I am happy to report I am back on my love fest with Abbott's books.

The first book I ever read by her was "Dare me" and I was amazed. I also liked "Die a little". You will know me was a miss however. Then there is The Fever. This book was so good!

This is Megan Abbott at her best. When a mysterious illness, targeting young girls, sweeps across a small town, the whole town begins panicking. What is causing this illness? And what can be done to stop it?

There is a murky feeling of doom hanging over this whole book. And it starts from the first page. The reader has no idea what is going on. But I know for me, I was hooked by the end of the first paragraph.

Like Dare me, this book is addicting. I literally could not put it down. You get addicted from that first sentence which is such a tease that after reading it(the sentence), you slowly sink into your chair knowing you are about to read something really special.

I LOVE the way Abbott writes. Even in one of her books, which I did not like, the writing is amazing. If I had to describe it I'd say "it is the epitome of languid". It is lush and unhurried but beneath the Prose one can feel something disturbing crackling and that feeling is delicious and makes one want to continue reading. It is so seamless and somehow manages to be both ominous and lyrically beautiful at the same time.

It also helps that everything in this book is so moody including the murky and brooding lake which is simmering with secrets. Nobody else I have ever read writes this way.

In summary.. I loved "The Fever". It was a heck of a read although "Dare me" is still my current favorite of her books.
Profile Image for Mackey.
1,055 reviews364 followers
June 30, 2017
There is a "fever" sweeping through the local high school affecting only the female population causing seizures, fevers, delirium, even hallucinations. It hit three friends first, friends who were inseparable since childhood. Could it have been something they did together? Was it the new vaccination that the school urgently suggested the girls get the summer before? Or was it something more sinister like the lake that eerily glowed in the moonlight? As this story unfolds and the health department, local police and the families search for answers, secrets begin to emerge about the girls, their friends, the school and the town. One thing is certain - regardless of the cause of "the fever," these girls and this school never will be the same again.

The Fever is a fascinating and realistic examination of today's young adults and small towns. I found this book so entrancing that I could not put it down once I began. Although I suspected what was happening from the beginning, it is the story and not the mystery that is at the heart of the tale. Abbott is a masterful storyteller; her dialogue is spot on for this age group and generation. I highly recommend her and this book.
Profile Image for Char.
1,634 reviews1,487 followers
June 13, 2017
3.5 stars!

The Fever features more messed up girls from Megan Abbotts' dark, dark high school world.

I liked how it all worked out in the end, and I wondered if the "fever" ended up referencing the parents and other town officials, rather than the illness itself? When people's children are possibly in danger, there's no telling what parents will do to protect them.

As with most of Ms. Abbott's books that I've read so far though, it's the teenage girls that are the scariest of all-BY FAR. I could see parts of myself and parts of other girls I knew in high school in these characters.

I found The Fever to be slightly repetitive and I disliked the narrator of Deenie's father. The other two narrators were great and contributed a lot to my overall enjoyment of this book. I look forward to reading more from Megan Abbott.
Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,412 followers
September 9, 2016
Sexual debut. Sometimes it seemed to Deenie that high school was like a long game of And Then There Were None. Every Monday, another girl's debut.
--The Fever, Megan Abbott
Nobody (and I mean nobody) writes the dark and secretive interiors of a teenage girl's psyche better than Megan Abbott. But make no mistake: while she is writing about teenagers, she is not writing Young Adult. Her books are so far removed from YA Lit it's not only a different country, but another planet. So if you haven't had the shocking and titillating pleasure to read her yet and have Ms. Abbott shelved as Young Adult, get her off there post-haste please -- asap -- I mean immediately.

Seriously, do it.

Go on.

I'll wait for you.

One of the things I've come to love about Abbott the most is that even when I think I've figured out how the story is going to go, she always manages to surprise me. And she never cheats. Here, she not only surprised me, she creeped the hell out of me, something I wasn't expecting at all. The Fever isn't a horror story, but Jesus damn, there are aspects of the story that are extremely unsettling and creeeeepy. I was reading this into the wee hours of the morning last night, and got to this one part and the little hairs on the back of my neck stood to attention:
She started clearing her throat, and once she started it was like she couldn't stop. "But most of all it's here," she said, clawing at her neck. "It feels like there's something in my throat. And it's getting bigger."

I've been fangirling for Megan Abbott for awhile now, but with this she's made me her slave. And she's so pixie-cute petite you can fit her in your pocket. Looking at her mischievous, Mona Lisa smile you'd never expect her to so eloquently and ruthlessly explore the twisted, perilous, coming-of-age waters of teenage girls, waters that run black and deep. There are monsters that swim in that water, monsters that bite, scar and maim for life.

Megan Abbott
My only sadness and regret is that I'm finished, and this book isn't even coming out until June, which means I've got a bit of a wait before I get my next Megan Abbott fix. I'm jonesing already. What can I say: she's made me her junkie bitch.

A free copy was provided by the publishers through Netgalley for an honest review.

This review has also been posted to Busty Book Bimbo
Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 9 books6,915 followers
July 6, 2014
On the heels of her excellent last novel, Dare Me, Megan Abbott again plunges into the mysterious and often troubled world of teenage girls, where even the smallest of incidents can assume a monumental importance.

At the heart of the novel are three high school girls and best friends, Deenie, Lise and Gabby. As the novel opens, Deenie watches in horror as Lise suffers a mysterious seizure while in class one morning. Lise is immediately hospitalized and falls into a coma, but no one, including the medical professionals, can figure out what's happened to her.

In fairly short order, other girls at the school begin to exhibit bizarre symptoms that also go unexplained, and what follows is a panic that spreads from Lise's friends through their school and ultimately through their entire community. In the age of the Internet, YouTube, and the 24/7 cable "news" cycle, all sorts of theories inevitably abound and none of them seems too looney to receive consideration.

Have the girls been affected by some toxic poison that's lurking in their school? Was their illness caused by the foul but beautiful lake nearby? Perhaps it resulted from the HPV vaccination that the school required the girls to receive.

The story unfolds principally through the eyes of Deenie, her hunky hockey-playing brother, Eli, and their divorced father, Tom, who is a teacher at Deenie and Eli's high school. All of the characters in the book, but especially these three, are finely drawn. In the hands of many another author, the father, Tom, would be totally clueless, but Abbott portrays him as an intelligent, complex man who cares deeply about the children he is raising alone. He worries about his skills at a parent and he's terrified at the thought that soon he will have to send his daughter out into a larger and sometimes dangerous world.

The brother, Eli, is also very well done--not at all the stereotypical high school jock that one might expect. He's a three-dimensional character who's very interesting and sympathetic in his own right.

This book is very loosely based on the Salem, Massachusetts witch scare that began in 1692, and Abbott creates a vivid, scary and ultimately very believable story of a community in panic. It's a great read and upon finishing it, one is struck by the thought that, as a society, maybe we're not as far removed from the Seventeenth Century as we'd like to think.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,365 followers
June 21, 2014
The Fever ended up being quite the interesting read, especially psychologically speaking. It's both a puzzling mystery as well as a look into the rashness of teenage girls burning with jealousy.

What I noticed almost immediately was the writing style, to which I can't say I'm exactly a fan. Megan tells this story with the help of three family members who are each given a perspective in the story. We switch back and forth from father, son, and daughter in a very spastic manner, each perspective lasting from a mere paragraph to no more than a couple of pages. While, in a way, I enjoyed the style in which it told the story with quick back-and-forth glimpses from several point-of-views, constantly being pulled in all directions made me feel very disjointed. As a result it kept me at arm's length from the characters, not allowing me the chance to get to know them. I was barely given enough time to realize which POV I was reading before it switched again. It was dizzying to say the least.

The plot itself is a good mix of thriller and mystery, with a hint at some maybe supernatural elements which were great to keep it unpredictable. I was, however, disappointed at how irrelevant a lot of it ended up being. It's nice to get creeped out by a freaky stories and abnormal happenings, but if it's used solely to increase suspense and ends up having nothing to do with the story, then it comes off as cheap gimmick. I mean, maybe my expectations for this were skewed, I went into it knowing nothing more than it being about a "mysterious contagion", so maybe I shouldn't have thought twice about their creepy small town stories, but alas. Still, it kept me on my toes, trying to guess and guess at what the heck was happening to these girls in this town that felt strangely isolated. I did eventually figure it out but it was a mere few pages before the big reveal, so kudos for that. I can't say the pacing was perfect, I did feel like it was dragging when we kept adding to the mystery without any actual progress, but the upside is that it's a fairly quick read especially with the frequent POV switches that makes it easy to fly through in a sitting or two.

The story introduces many angles from wild small town stories, to mass hysteria where parents are blaming vaccines or plain out panicking, to harsh teenage dramatics. It's dark, it's vicious, and it's full of complex and unfortunate truths of the teenage mind. In the end, this was definitely my favorite part of the story even if I only realized the truth of what I was reading after I'd turned the last page. It ended up being completely different from what I expected, but I eventually recognized the brilliant workings that went into creating these characters and their malicious behaviors. It's definitely one worth trying as it's the kind of unique read that hits you after the fact more than during.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
September 17, 2017
After my sensational introduction to Megan Abbott courtesy of the excruciating thrill of Dare Me, centred around a high school cheerleading squad and their new coach, I was well prepared for another close encounter with the intense and rather murky world of adolescent teenage girls. Although The Fever didn’t have quite the disconcerting effect of Dare Me, it did prove fascinating; both horrifyingly captivating and remarkably insightful. Dismiss the sex, secrets and lies of pubescent girls at your peril because on the strength of my forays into the world of Megan Abbott’s characters a hornets nest awaits.

When the eternally foggy small-town community of Dryden falls prey to a mysterious ailment sweeping the high school, one family find themselves wondering what it all means for studious sixteen-year-old Deenie Nash, a close friend of all the girls. ‘The Trio Grande’ of Dryden High School are sixteen-year-old Denise Nash, the newly blossomed sylphlike beauty of Lise Daniels and the “seen it all” mix of bloodied history and cool ambivalence of Gabby Bishop. With several “hangers-on” loitering at the fringes of their circle and angling for the attention of Gabby (Skye Osbourne, Kim Court), the close-knit friendship comes under sustained assault when a strange fervour hits the town, sending ripples of fear through all the residents and attracting the attentions of the media circus. Narrated through the eyes of the Nash family, made up of the rapidly maturing Deenie, her older ice-hockey star and reluctant heartthrob brother, Eli, and chemistry teacher and father, Tom, Megan Abbott pulls together a tension fuelled and menacingly nail-biting story which it proves mightily hard not to get sucked into, despite the rational explanations that lie in wait.

As a single father since his wife’s affair and departure, Tom Nash, has watched over his teenagers lives as they both mature and grow apart from the family unit, but an unbreakable bond ensures their world is closely-bound. Tom lives in fear that the same demons that took his wife away will come back and similarly do for his daughter and both he and Eli are rather intimidated by the intense bond between the giggling trio of Deenie, Lise and Gabby. However, in the world of teenage girls things never stay the same for too long and as all of these young women mature, their capacity for unleashing mayhem escalates and Deenie finds herself less certain of the world she is part of. When Deenie watches Lise Daniels rocking back and forth on her chair in class and then succumbing to a violent seizure that leaves her frothing at the mouth, the students of Dryden High School are thrown into disarray. As the already somewhat neurotic mother of Lise whips up a storm the rumours of glandular fever, an allergic reaction, a bad batch of the HPV vaccine or simply something breeding in the moss laden local waters start to gather momentum. As Lise’s mother does nothing to stem the disquiet, neither liaising with the high school or returning the telephone calls of her daughter's best friends, the rumour mill powers into overdrive, and after waiting so long for life to start in the eyes of these girls, suddenly they wish they could turn back time. When unconfirmed rumours of Lise’s heart stopping and her falling into a coma perpetuate, other girls in the tight set that Deenie is part of fall prey to the mysterious affliction. Whilst the public health authorities call an enquiry, Dryden parents rush to blame the HPV vaccine and the worries of all are heightened by the social media centred world.

Coinciding with the first sexual experiences of all the young women, Deenie struggles to handle being the common link that unites all of the stricken girls. As the rumours of demonic possession take hold, even rational Tom is drawn into the turmoil and faced with the realisation that he can no longer insulate his daughter for the dangers of the wider world. Prepare for a frenzy that rips apart a stable community with the menacing hysteria of paranoia. It is difficult not to be transfixed, horrified and compelled by the taut narrative. Another marvellous example of female adolescent angst from the astute Megan Abbott. Excellent characterisations bring the complicated world of sweet sixteen-years-olds firmly into focus and watching these girls turn from wide-eyed schoolgirl innocence to a cunning treachery that should be beyond their years in seconds is horrifyingly magnetising. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,032 reviews1,423 followers
February 9, 2017
I read Dare Me by Megan Abbott a few weeks ago and, since then, have been collecting everything she has even penned in the hopes of binge reading all of them over the coming months. Both Megan Abbott and the dark contemporary genre are quickly proving to be my new favourites.

Whilst completely loving this, the only reason I gave this a four star rating instead of a five, is that is doesn't quite live up to the absolute wonder that is Dare Me. In my humble opinion, that book is her crowning glory, and whilst everything else has been wonderful, they haven't quite touched on its brilliance.

The Fever is an atmospheric tale following the lives of the Nash family. High school professor, Tom Nash, and his two teenage children, Eli and Deenie, all become collateral when a series of unexplained seizures and black outs begin to plague the female populace of the school they attend.

The unidentified phenomena made this a chilling read. In my eagerness to discover the heart of this mysterious ailment I flew through this in a matter of hours. Whilst relatively short, this packs so much sub-plot and plot twists into every chapter and the outcome was an unguessable and shocking revelation!

Like all Abbott's work, her insight into the minds of the adolescent female, in this, is profound and complex. She has such a raw and unabashed approach to her storytelling that allows her character's minds to be opened wide and which provides a running social commentary about wider topics. The real focus of her books are always on far more than what they initially appear, and she continually proves she is far more than the contemporary writer she is pigeon-holed as.
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews962 followers
February 4, 2014
What is it to be a girl?

This is a question Megan Abbott explores in the darkly hypnotic novel, The Fever, distilling the experience of being a teenage girl into potent, unsettling form. While the writing is languid, hazy, there’s an almost fever-dream intensity to this story, a palpable anxiety leaching from the scenes as Abbott examines the fervour and cruelty girls are capable of. As the fear of contagion blooms into hysteria, the novel addresses the parallel fear society often levels at girls, and the cultural apprehension surrounding the mythos and lore of the Teenage Girl.

The Fever presents this uneasiness from several vantage points. From within, through Deenie, we experience the shifting of allegiances, the intricacies of friendships, the exoticism of “otherness”. The tangle of resentment and desire. Deenie is both a participant and an observer of the panic that sweeps the community; at once afraid and an object of fear. Her position in her group of friends is similarly complex: as she contemplates her closeness with Lise and Gabby, she also questions it, aware of a shifting dynamic and new tensions at play.

From outside, for Deenie’s brother Eli, teenage girlhood is shrouded in mystery and full of strange rites. For all his familiarity with girls’ bodies, the complexities of their relationships and personalities take on a cultish secrecy, a language he doesn’t understand. Eli is aware of the changes in his sister, but is reluctant to acknowledge them. For Eli, her transition is something unknowable and murky, complicated by the presence of her friends and their own transformations.

And Tom Nash, Deenie’s father, for whom Deenie is fragile and precious and drifting further and further away from him. Tom wants to protect Deenie, and yet is aware that it’s impossible to do so indefinitely.

“What happens when someone touches her someday and doesn’t understand these things about her? That she was both fearless and fragile and could be hurt badly in ways he could not fix.”

While The Fever revolves around the mysterious illness – provoking seizures and hallucinations in teenage girls - it deals with burgeoning sexuality and small town politics, the social hierarchy of high school and the wounds inflicted by abuse, neglect, divorce. It’s a razor sharp portrayal of a community tearing apart in paranoia and blame. It handles adolescence, in all of its beauty and ugliness: the headiness and mess of it, the shame and fear projected on female bodies and sexuality.

“You spend a long time waiting for life to start – the past year or two filled with all these firsts, everything new and terrifying and significant – and then it does start and you realise it isn’t what you’d expected, or asked for.”

The Fever is a mesmerizing, grotesque novel; a chilling mystery with a dark heart. Recommended.

A review copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Profile Image for Roy.
69 reviews
June 25, 2014
It hardly took me any time at all to lose real interest in this "mean girl" story and its cartoonish characters. Since it's been pitched as a thriller/mystery, though, I figured I would ride it out, at least until the author revealed the cause of this mysterious fever. Was it an alien virus? A particularly virulent strain of an otherwise ordinary disease? Something in the water? Mass hysteria? A hoax?

I eventually found out, of course, how it all began. I won't give it away, but I will say that when it all ended, I was tempted to throw the book across the room and call every reader who'd posted positive reviews to make sure I had read the same book they had, and that my version had all the chapters. It felt like an absolute waste of time to me. Maybe I'm just too old for this one.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,444 reviews7,531 followers
June 17, 2014

Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

ARC received from NetGalley. Thank you NetGalley!!!!

3.5 Stars

When a popular high school girl suffers a seizure in class, her friends worry about what could possibly be wrong. When she is taken to the hospital, put in isolation, and other girls start experiencing the same symptoms, the entire town starts to panic. What could possibly be striking down these girls in the prime of their lives? Why is it only girls? Is it a side effect from HPV vaccinations? A tainted water supply? Or is it something more sinister?

Boy does Megan Abbott know how to capture the spirit of teenaged girls. Sugar and spice and everything nice . . .

Yep, that pretty much sums up my delightful real-life exchanges with this particular demographic.

Abbott is sooooooo far ahead of the curve when it comes to taking the insufferable teen

to the next level

Reading Abbott’s work always makes me think of a few things I’m thankful for:

1. I’m thankful that I have stopped interchanging Megan Abbott with Meg Cabot when recommending books to co-workers' young children. You lose friends REALLY quickly when you confuse the author of The Princess Diaries with the author of Dare Me;

2. I’m grateful for having children with outies rather than innies; and

3. I’m sooooo appreciative that I did not know Ms. Abbott in high school. I’m terrified to think any of her characters may have been inspired from personal experience . . .

Highly recommended to anyone looking for an author who really pushes the envelope when it comes to the boundaries of Young Adult, who writes a story with tons of suspense and characters you love to hate.
Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,722 reviews670 followers
October 26, 2016
Deenie is a typical teen who lives with her older brother and their dad. Mom, apparently, took off some time ago for greener pastures. Life is filled with the usual teen angst; boy drama, girl drama, sex drama, friend drama, all that fun teen stuff that makes high school so miserable. But Deenie has two best friends and her life could be much worse.

Naturally, this being a book and all, her life does get worse. Her best friend Lise is struck down in the middle of class with something resembling a seizure and is rushed to the ER in dire condition. She does not return to school. There is much speculation. Then Deenie’s other best friend gets sick and then another in her circle and soon, it seems, only Deenie and boys seems immune. The rumors and hysteria begin. Is it the HPV vaccine the girls have all been forced to get? Is the water tainted or is it . . . haunted (gawd, let it be haunted!)? Could all the teen sex happening behind the bleachers be the cause? Or is Deenie a carrier infecting people willy nilly without a care?!

I’ll never tell.

What follows is less a novel of the plague (which I must say really bummed me out) and more of a tale about what happens to a bunch of teens when they aren’t honest to even those who they claim are closest to them. It reads as real and genuine. The kids here aren’t perfect, that’s for sure, and they make a lot of big and small mistakes that are usually unflattering in some way. The author was not afraid to paint her characters in an unattractive light. I loved that most about the story. But I’ll be honest, almost every little event and thought gets analyzed and is agonized over until it all erupts into a messy emotional stew that results in “The Fever” that consumes the town. You probably know your tolerance for this sort of thing. Mine is nearly non-existent, truth be told, but I must’ve either of been having a few rare tolerant days or this author is just very good at what she does because I was not annoyed with all of this inner and outer turmoil. My bet is on the author.

I liked “The Fever” despite the fact that the “fever” referred to in the title was more about the one that infects and riles up the town into a hysterical frenzy than the actual sickness that starts things off. This wasn’t at all the book I was expecting. I wanted the plague, I wanted death and gore and “bring out your dead” kind of fear. It’s my fault for going in on a vague podcast recommendation. This is mostly about the bitchery and cruelty and the little hurts teens casually inflict on each other and themselves. What is written here kept me hooked, even when things got a little weird here and there (umm girls, if you’ve ever felt the urge to help a friend adjust a crooked tampon, you are either a much better friend than I or you are just a sicko). Reading this made me ever thankful that I will never have to relive my teen years. But I’d be lying if I ignored the fact that the ending was a huge non-event after pages and pages of anticipation. It made sense but it was rather mundane.

I listened to this book as an unabridged audiobook. This story is told from Deenie, Eli and dad’s POV and they each get their own narrator. I have no complaint with Deenie and dad’s narration. Their narrator’s sound age appropriate and add emotion to the work. Eli, however, got stuck with a narrator that didn’t seem to fit the character and mostly read in a monotone. I failed to mention that Eli is the hump and dump kind of guy who can’t make a move without getting hit on by a hot girl. He succumbs often and just as often feels guilty about it afterwards. Woe is his life but I’m getting off track . . . My point is, this narrator made him sound so bland and lifeless that I assumed he only got lucky because he had such a pretty face. How he inspired such rabid lust and devotion was beyond me. I admit to 2x his narration after I realized this was the way it was going to be and I do not regret it.

Though it wasn’t horrid enough for me, it wasn’t a horrible read and there were enough cruel little betrayals here to keep me happy and keep it real. I’ll give it a 3.5.
Profile Image for Robert.
Author 10 books420 followers
April 18, 2014
If it weren’t for Kemper and Dan, I might have never heard of Megan Abbott. And had I not heard of her and went through life aimlessly lacking direction and motivation and reading material, I might have had to kill myself. That would have resulted in a serious shit storm that would have blown the universe to smithereens, and thereby reducing the otherwise wonderful and happy-go-lucky world into the next apocalypse. Yeah, kind of like a Megan Abbott novel. Don’t let her small height and cherubic features deceive you, she’s one cold-hearted bitch. But if you have any sense, you love her anyway. Because she’s that cool. I mean, she’s like the latest reality star, only she actually has sense and a brain and can actually form a coherent sentence. And not just one, mind you, an entire novel filled with coherent sentences that make me want to swoon with lust-filled envy, right after I pull the knives out of my back and thigh, and practice my duck and cover maneuver, so that I actually live to see my next birthday and my wife and unicorns and rainbows and peace signs.

Even sitting in the same room with her, her coolness reaches your level, after it drops from the rafters, and basks you in warmth and smiles. But you don’t smile while reading a Megan Abbott novel, if you know what’s good for you, and you don’t turn your back on it either. You run through that gauntlet like there’s a rattlesnake that’s about to devour your skinny ass, and you crash through the nearest brick wall you can find, even if it results in a knot the size of Wyoming and thirty-seven stitches.

And if I had any sense whatsoever, I’d probably avoid writing the below review, because of all the greatness that has come before me. But I need to have my head examined, and until then, I’m under the distinct impression that I’m somehow a contributing member of society. So…here we go.

THE FEVER made me want to check my tongue in the mirror, swallow a round of medicine, and turn in early for possibly the rest of my life. But, on the other hand, I finished the novel, and found myself wanting. Wanting more story, more character, and more straight evilness, even if the high school depicted in these pages made me want to pull the fire alarm and run for the nearest exit. And even if I finished said novel in rapid fashion with no real time to slow down and smell a few dandelions.

Sure, Ms. Abbott has some serious writing chops, and her credentials could make even the most brazen teenager blush, but I just can’t seem to help myself in my pursuit of excellence. The funk is most likely my own, and I blame the greatness that has blazed the path before me for my sudden hard right turn into the nearest ditch, as I look to cop a feel in the front passenger seat of my motor vehicle with a woman dressed in a miniskirt and pom-poms and a smile white enough for the TV.

The prose sung, the dialogue had punch and direction, and yet I still wanted more. Maybe I need to have my head examined, and possibly the only cure is to read more Megan Abbott. So I’ll have to take a note and make that a priority. So I can learn the error of my ways. As for you, my fellow reader, you may want to read Queenpin and Dare Me, like stat, because those two novels are seriously fucked up in an absolutely wonderful way.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

Cross-posted at Robert's Reads
Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews370 followers
June 18, 2014
Initial Thoughts: The first third of this book was a snooze fest. I was tempted to DNF it because all it seemed to be was a bunch of teens worrying about losing their virginity, and the usual stuff kids worry about. It begins as the girls get their HPV vaccine and then one of the popular girls suffers from convulsions and lies in a coma. Other girls show symptoms as well and the vaccine is blamed, along with a whole host of other culprits: an algae filled lake, the water supply, sexual promiscuity, etc. Again, the first part was a snooze fest for me. I'm glad that I kept reading because the story became interesting and focused upon the girls and their relationships with each other. A surprising twist as to the cause of illness. Personally, the second half was better paced and I enjoyed the story a little more.

The Review:
It took me a while to think about how I'd review this book. Initially, I had given it 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3, but the more I think about this book, the more I feel that 3 stars was a little too high. Looking back at my notes as I read this book I saw a lot of "meh" and "not liking this" and even "I may DNF this book."

So a bunch of girls in town succumb to a mysterious fever after receiving their HPV vaccine. Of course other things are to blame for the outbreak: premarital sex (huh?), an algae bloom at a local lake, and the vaccine itself. As I read on, it struck me that this book wasn't about any of those things. It was about mean girls being mean and jealous.

I found this book to be preachy about sex and vaccines. How is it possible in this day and age to ignore the benefits of vaccines? I went to school with kids who were disabled for life from polio. I bet that if they could have a re-do in life, they'd be first in line for that vaccine. And premarital sex? It happens. All the time. Instead of preaching against it, prepare your girls and boys so that they can make their own right choices.

I'm not sure that I would recommend this book. I'm not even sure who the target audience is for this book. Teenage girls? Their moms? All in all, a strange read for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for a review copy of this book.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,133 reviews8,133 followers
July 2, 2015
2.5 stars

This book is difficult to rate. I think 2.5 stars says a lot about my feelings; that it was good, but not great. It was enjoyable to read, but not particularly memorable. The writing wasn't bad--I've read much worse--but not that amazing. There were moments of really nice prose, especially the end, but they were few and far between. And the plot and suspense could have been built up a lot more. It had the potential to be way more terrifying, even though it's by no means a horror novel. I can't help but think of Gillian Flynn's books, some of which have these sort of twisted teenage girls in small town America, that are completely terrifying novels. The way the story unfolded made me think, "oh yeah, that's obviously what happened, I totally see that" at moments of climax or revelation, as opposed to, "HOLY CRAP SERIOUSLY?!?" Again, it's not bad, just not particularly amazing. I could see this as a really entertaining low-budget, made-for-tv movie with those really generic subpar actors; those are the ones you watch because it's almost midnight and nothing else is on except for infomercials, but you can't get yourself to turn it off anyway. So yeah, I had fun reading it but I doubt it'll be a book that stays with me.
Profile Image for Jaxy.
152 reviews37 followers
May 24, 2015
Reviewed on my blog, www.bibliobrat.com

One and a half stars, rounded up for mercy.

This book is absolutely nothing like I expected. From the cover and blurb above (from Goodreads), I was expecting (or at the very least, hoping for) a fast-paced medical thriller. The Fever didn't quite make it... at all. Told from the perspective of three characters, Deenie, her brother Eli, and their father, Tom, all of whom have the same voice; the characterization is not very good at all. The book centers around a sudden serious illness that a handful of girls encounter. Could it be from the HPV vaccine they received at the recommendation of the school board? Or is it from the disgusting lake in town, the one that smells like wet animal fur and is glowing green, yet attract a bunch of high school girls?

My first gripe with this book is that no high school girl would go in that foul lake. It sounds absolutely repulsive, yet is a swimming hotspot for a bunch of girls that are becoming aware of their sexuality. Right.

My second gripe about this book is the crooked tampon incident. Referenced as something that happened in the recent past, Lise apparently required her friend, Deenie’s help to remove a crooked tampon. As a woman that has been using tampons for about twenty years now (ugh I’m old), I can say that it’s never once occurred to me to drop my panties and have my friends assist me with removing them. I wouldn’t even have my husband help me with something like that, and he is regularly all up in my business, if you know what I’m sayin’. WINK WINK.

The crooked tampon incident™ has nothing to do with anything, but had me thinking the author was a weirdo for probably far longer than she intended. It’s something a guy would write about, or perhaps a non-human, non-menstruating human. (Alien?)

My third gripe are the ridiculously dramatic secondary characters that pop in at random times with cryptic messages. YOU ARE ALL GOING TO DIE. Completely unnecessary once you get to the ending and realize that those characters were put in just to keep you reading! Without them, you would have thrown the book down in utter boredom. Almost nothing happens.

Several times throughout the book characters mentioned that they didn't feel like themselves, or that they thought their friends looked different for no explicable reason to try to lure you in to thinking there might be something supernatural about something that really isn't all that out of the ordinary.

I almost abandoned this book several times, but felt that I invested too much time into it to discard. Also, I had to discuss the crooked tampon. So terrible. Gah.

Skip this one, friends.

Note: A copy of this book was provided to me for free by the publisher (Little, Brown and Company), and Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Toby.
831 reviews328 followers
June 23, 2014
I got this really pretty first edition hardcover imported from America two months prior to Australian release because I just couldn't stand to wait, much like the content of the newest Megan Abbott modern teen girl centred noir it's the antithesis of the first editions of all those blockbuster thrillers without thrills and written by rote by ghostwriters for an author who is a trademark. And yes, one such author is currently indirectly paying Ms Abbott to write it seems.

Small towns and dark secrets go hand in hand, teenage girls and intrigue seemingly go much the same way, especially the way Megan Abbott weaves their tales. This time out a popular girl suffers a seizure in class and pleasant small town life spirals out of control as girls start dropping like flies and panic stricken parents point fingers at all and sundry without any proof.

The Fever marks another turn in the evolution of this wonderful writer, no longer content to immerse her readers in the seething pool of teen girl hormones and politics her cutting insight is extended to teen boys and grown men, and in a manner similar to Thomas Vinterberg's "little girl who cried wolf" movie Jagten the mob mentality of closed communities. I don't know what it's like to be a teen girl but I've been pretty certain Megan Abbott writes how girls think, feel and behave with one hundred percent accuracy for quite some time, but I do know what it's like to be a teen boy and a man and to have insecurities, doubts, fears, ennui, to struggle with loss, to be unable to fathom the seemingly mindless behaviour of others and if Abbott can nail them with such success as she does in The Fever then I shall take her every word as gospel truth from now on.

This is a fascinating multi layered story that had me gripped from the start, and now I have the interminable wait for more Abbott to be written.
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