The Fever by Megan Abbott
Published by Little, Brown, and Company
Review copy provided by Netgalley
From the publisher:
The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.
As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.
When a book is just okay for me, but there are aspects of greatness within, I will almost always pick up another book by that author to see if it was just that particular novel or if it’s the author in general I’m just not a fan of. In the case of Megan Abbott, after reading The Fever, I can definitely say it’s the author’s style that doesn’t click with me. I read The End of Everything a couple of years ago and just didn’t get it … and now, with The Fever, same experience. But let me start with what I DO like about this author.
She totally, completely, gets teen girls. She gets their cliquiness, their bullying, their complicated relationships with their families, each other, and themselves. She gets self-loathing and self-doubt, she gets the weird mix of overconfidence and insecurity that the most popular girls typically have, she just understands them and can write them amazingly well. She also gets how communities can be so deeply affected by what’s happening to the children within that community, how communities can rally around kids in trouble, and at the same time come together to shun the “bad” kids in the mix. She is also an excellent writer. Her writing is taught and careful, never using too many words or flowery language, describing everything perfectly with spot-on dialogue.
With all that being said, you’d think I absolutely loved The Fever, right? Unfortunately, and I can’t do a great job of explaining why, but I just did not. Ultimately I didn’t connect to any of the characters, I felt like they were being kept at arm’s length from me the entire time, and the terror and panic that these families were feeling just didn’t resonate in my heart. It’s like my brain enjoyed the book but my emotions didn’t care for it. Also the ending felt very anti-climactic – the whole book was built around this strange affliction that the girls were dealing with, and when the cause was finally revealed, it was like … meh.
On the surface, Megan Abbott is a great author and I’m happy to recommend her writing and the way she is able to create believable troubled teen girls. But for me personally, her books are just okay, and now that I’ve read two of them I can say that for certain this author is one that I won’t be going back to.