The Fever: A Novel by Megan Abbott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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.
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