* Spoiler warning for the previous book, Wither *
By Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
To Sum It Up: Rhine has escaped from her forced marriage and imprisonment in the mansion, but she quickly finds herself in a different kind of captivity, along with Gabriel, one of the mansion’s servants who fled with her. They are taken prisoner by a scheming carnival proprietress who has some very disturbing plans for the two. All Rhine wants to do is find a way to get to New York and reunite with her twin brother, Rowan. She has a difficult, dangerous journey ahead of her; she must always look over her shoulder for any sign of her sinister father-in-law, Vaughn. He certainly has not forgotten about Rhine, and he will not let her get away that easily.
Review: Although I wasn’t enthralled by Wither, I had to find out what happened after Rhine escaped from the mansion with Gabriel. Would they finally find Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan? Would we discover what was really going on in the basement of that creepy mansion? We sort of get some answers, but not until near the end of the book and after Rhine and Gabriel have a few adventures that had me shaking my head in disbelief.
The book opens with Rhine and Gabriel making landfall in their boat. No sooner have they planted their feet on solid ground when they’re captured. Again. They’ve stumbled upon a carnival-themed brothel run by the maniacal Madame Soleski. Madame is quite a business-savvy woman and sees dollars signs when she spots Rhine, who is dubbed “Goldenrod” in keeping with the color-themed names that Madame gives to all of her girls. Whenever Madame needs to chat with Rhine privately, they take a little ride on the Ferris wheel. No, really, all of this actually takes place in the book! I hadn’t known what to expect from Fever, but it certainly wasn’t this. I could not believe that these two people made a run for freedom only to end up losing it almost straightaway! And their new prison? Well, it’s just about as bad as the old one, if not more absurd-sounding.
I experienced déjà vu when Rhine started going on about how she and Gabriel needed to get out of the brothel because she spent most of Wither going on about how she needed to get out of the mansion. This girl seriously frustrates me. Like her not even half-hearted attempts to escape from the mansion, she doesn’t put a whole lot of effort into fleeing Madame Soleski’s freak show. I kind of felt sorry for Gabriel for being caught up in Rhine’s unfortunate escapades and for being left with very little to do throughout the book. You know that he’s there, but his presence never really makes itself known.
What kills me about this series is that it’s so well-written. Despite how often I roll my eyes at Rhine’s actions or lack thereof, the writing itself is top-notch and is the reason why I can’t rate the books lower. I just have a lot of trouble buying into the world and tolerating Rhine’s all-talk-no-action character.
I gave this book a shot because I figured that life on the run for Rhine and Gabriel had to be interesting. Sadly, it wasn’t. There isn’t much story progress or character development, either, and I just can’t hang in there for the final book, Sever. I will, however, check out future books from Lauren DeStefano because I think that she is a very talented writer; it’s just this series that didn’t click with me.
All in All: Fever felt eerily similar to Wither at times, especially with Rhine winding up in almost the same situation she wanted so desperately to run away from. I wasn’t crazy about Wither, so it’s hard for me to say if readers who did enjoy it will also like Fever. Overall, I think that this series is one that you need to try out for yourself to see how you feel about it.