Publication Date: 02/21/2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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 the 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.
Rhine Ellery has escaped from the House Governor's mansion in Florida, and together with Gabriel, is en route to Manhattan to find her twin brother Rowan. Life on the outside is much different from the too-convenient mansion, and Rhine finds herself in the uncomfortable place of occasionally comparing her life within to the everyday struggles of the real world. Vacillating between anger at having been Gathered, being separated from her brother, and at the world for giving her this disease in the first place, Rhine learns that wanting something is important, but in this uncertain world where parents outlive their children, is that enough?
Fever starts almost immediately after the end of Wither, with Rhine and Gabriel on the run. The book begins with an exploratory feel, and I found myself having to reel back a bit after remembering the frenzied events at the end of the previous book. This hesitant tone fits well within Rhine's mindset as she reacclimatises to being on the outside. However, the two aren't alone for long before they find themselves ensnared in another situation of entrapment. I love what Lauren does with words - and what she isn't afraid to do with them - in order to convey Rhine's feelings of being caged and frustrated. (This is done at times to, what I feel, is the detriment of Gabriel - though he is always with Rhine, sometimes I don't get the feeling that he's there at all, a lack of presence.) The pacing of Fever runs parallel to Rhine figuring out her situation and how she's going to deal with it.
The issue for me, again, is that there's not enough information. I still don't know why this is happening, and that lack makes it difficult for me to suspend disbelief as much as I would like. We know there is a disease that affects all newly conceived children, and we know from haunting descriptions (the disappearance of the outer boroughs to the Atlantic is chilling for me as a New Yorker) that the Eastern seaboard and Europe are vastly redefined. These subtle descriptions do much in the way of setting the feeling for Rhine's America, but I still need to know how this disease came about. In order to affect children but not the parental hosts it has to be incredibly specific genetically. I also have difficulty accepting that people would readily embrace this new world instead of fighting and doing everything they can to find a cure.
We're introduced to a handful of new characters in this book, though I almost feel as if the characters were more inherent to the setting. Maddie, a physically handicapped child who does not speak, is perhaps the most telling. In Rhine's society such a child is dubbed 'malformed' and would ordinarily be killed. It continues to highlight what I found strange about Wither; that people would kill children when the existence of these children, even with their shortened lifespans, is all the human race has. Girls who aren't considered beautiful enough are killed by Gatherers and children who don't have ten fingers and ten toes are similarly considered disposable.
The main thing, aside from the lack of why, is that very little happens plot-wise here. I enjoyed the descriptions and the character movement, but I'm unsure as to how the series, with only one book left, will be able to tie everything together in a way that's going to be satisfying as a reader. Fever is a great development upon the first installment in that we get to see what exactly makes Rhine tick, and I'm curious to see how everything will unfold in the final book; curious enough that I'll pick it up when it's released.