Sunday, April 01, 2012

Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Title: Fever by Lauren DeStefano (#2 in the Chemical Garden Trilogy)
Copyright: 2012
Published By: Harper Voyager
Length: 341 pp.
Reason for Reading: I enjoyed the first book in the Chemical Garden Trilogy: Wither.

Just a quick note: I purchased my copy of Fever in the UK primarily because it was released in paperback across the pond and I'm a paperback kind of gal.

Warning: Even my brief summary will certainly spoil the ending of Wither. If you have not read Wither yet, please skip this review.

Brief summary: After running away from the home in which she's been imprisoned in a forced, polygamous marriage and he was a servant, Rhine and Gabriel end up falling straight into a totally different kind of trap. In an old amusement park, a woman runs a heavily-guarded brothel. Once again, Rhine's beauty is both her savior and a curse.

Determined to break free and locate her twin brother Rowan in Manhattan, Rhine finds herself increasingly challenged by new dangers and quickly growing more and more ill with a fever that simply will not break. As Rhine and Gabriel seek freedom and Rhine grows ever weaker, her evil father-in-law tracks her down, determined to return her to the mansion. Will Rhine break free, once again, and find her twin? Will Gabriel survive the sinister Madame's dangerous drugs? What is making Rhine so deathly ill?

What I loved about Fever:

Like Wither, Fever is a page-turner. Rhine is beautiful, which is often annoying in fiction because it's so much more common for a character to be beautiful than ordinary. But, in Rhine's case, beauty leads to plot. It's because she's beautiful that she was kidnapped and turned into a "sister wife," in the first place and because of her beauty that . . . well, things happen the way they do in Fever. I don't want to give anything away, so I'm going to be deliberately vague. There's plenty of action in this book, so it's not just a place-holder. And, boy, Lauren DeStefano sure does know how to put her characters through the ringer. I like that.

What I disliked about Fever:

Rhine and Gabriel are thrown into the fire, so to speak, from the get-go. I would have enjoyed just a little more freedom on the part of those two characters before their second entrapment and I was frustrated, at first. After reading Wither, I wanted to follow them on the road for a bit. But, that's more about expectation than execution. I had this mental image of what I thought might happen and instead we got Madame. Oh, that woman is nasty.

I did have a little trouble remembering some of what took place in Wither, so I regretted not rereading Wither before launching into the reading of Fever (which would have meant hanging on to Fever till we returned from the UK instead of reading it immediately -- like that was going to happen). I intend to reread the first two installments when the third is released, to avoid a recurrence of that issue.


4/5 - Excellent writing, tense plot and plenty more challenges make Fever a solid read. Like many books that are second in a trilogy, you know the heroine is not going to make it to her ending and it leaves you with a vague feeling of having been dangled with permission, but I like this series and don't regret the purchase or feel like it was a whole lot of nothing written for the sake of leading up to the final installment, unlike some series books. I'm looking forward to seeing where DeStefano takes Rhine in the third book and how she wraps up the end of the Chemical Garden Trilogy.

Update: The comments have reminded me that I may have waited a bit too long to write this review. If I'd written it as I closed the book, I think it would have been harsher. It's only in retrospect that I like the complete story. There were a lot of things that frustrated me about Fever (besides the fact that Rhine & Gabriel walked straight into another trap), but some of them are spoilers. Suffice it to say, I still think it was a good read but I gave it a 4/5 because it wasn't as perfect and gripping as Wither and it's possible 3.5/5 is more accurate to how I felt closing the book.

Fever is pretty terrifying but there is not quite as much sexuality as there was in Wither, in spite of where Rhine ends up. It seemed about PG level to me, apart from the fact that the author is really good at ratcheting up the tension. Update on that: There is a bit of torture, actually . . . probably should have mentioned that.

Cover thoughts:

I'm impressed. In the first book, Rhine was pampered and looked suitably fluffy and primped, on its cover. In Fever, she constantly fights exhaustion, then illness, and the change in her hairstyle and pose reflects the alterations in the character. The props are also perfectly fitting.

Which reminds me . . .

I keep forgetting to mention my cover thoughts. I also absolutely loved the cover of Kitty Cornered by Bob Tarte. It's a nice, bright grabber of a cover and, of course, you can't help but love that kitty photo if you're a fan of felines. I liked the cover of The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen, as well (and found it equally fitting to the story), but I can't say I loved it -- probably because it's yellow. I'm not a big fan of yellow.

It's National Poetry Month!

Excitement! I have two slim volumes of poetry that I hope to review, this month. One has been giving me fits: The Auroras by David St. John. I'm determined not to let that book defeat me. The other, Light on the Concrete by Lucas Hunt, was sent by the author and I accepted it because I read his first book and wanted to read more. However, because I was having so much trouble figuring out what the heck St. John was trying to say in The Auroras, I accepted Light on the Concrete conditionally. The author has agreed to let me pepper him with questions if need be. I never took any literature courses in which imagery was discussed -- seriously, none. What I really need is some kind of Poetry for Dummies type of book, but in the meantime, a mentor will do.

And, I have some other poetry I'd like to read, but I'm not sure how much I'll manage to squeeze in. I'm still (ack, gasp!) mixing some March review books in with the April books I've just started.

Next up will be another vacation post. Since I'll have to limit the number of vacation photos I foist upon you, here's a shot of some flowers spotted in Greenwich:

©2012 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. I didn't like Fever as much. It seemed to me like one of the two of them was always sleeping!

    1. Actually, neither did I. I think my review came out nicer than it should have. LOL It's been at least 10 days since I finished, so I probably should have mentioned that I would have given it a harsher review if I wrote immediately, as I closed the book, but it's one that I'm still glad I read.

  2. I won a copy of the first book but I'm just not sure this is for me.

    1. I'm not sure it's for you, either, Kathy. You could always give it 50 pages and then pass it on to someone if it doesn't grab you by the throat.

  3. I liked Wither a lot, and need to get to this one soon. I have read some other reviews that were tepid, but I need to find out what I think for myself. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us on this one. Your post was very insightful. I also love that picture of those flowers. They are just so bright and colorful!

    1. This one should have been more tepid, Zibilee. But, I waited 10 days to write it and it doesn't seem as frustrating to ponder the whole story in retrospect as it was reading the book. There was a point that I closed the book thinking, "This is getting so annoying, everyone being sick and unconscious so much of the time," and then I saw the title and thought *headdesk*. Obviously, it's about an actual fever, not some representation like the fever to find her way home. That helped me to understand the fever as a plot point. Anyway, I still enjoyed it, although it is pretty harrowing.

  4. Thank you for the spoiler warning! Skipping the review because I haven't read the first book yet. I keep having good intentions, but need to track down a copy. :)

    1. You're welcome! I'll be interested to see your thoughts, when you get your hands on a copy. I like the series and am anxious to see where Rhine ends up in the final book.

  5. I didn't love Wither but enjoyed it enough to look forward to reading Fever. It now awaits me on my bookshelf! I'm sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy it as much as you did the first in the series!

    1. I really did love Wither. Fever was still a good read, even though I can't say it blew me away as Wither did. I love Lauren DeStefano's writing and I care about the characters; she didn't lose me as some authors do on the second installment. I'm a fickle reader and often don't read all the way through a trilogy, so the fact that I'm still looking forward to the third is probably higher praise than I realize. :)

  6. I had been waiting for this book to come out. I enjoyed Wither, even more so the second time I read it. I was curious to see what would happen to Rhine. I expected Fever to be good, but this was better than I had even hoped for.


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