- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (June 17, 2014)
- ISBN: 9780316231053
- Source: Publisher
Deenie Nash comes from a closely-knit family; her father Thomas is a popular teacher at the school and her brother, Eli, is a hockey star and the object of affection for many girls. Like many teenage girls, Deenie and her friends Lise Daniels and Gabby Bishop are inseparable. Until Lise suffers an unexplained seizure in class. Rushed to the hospital, doctors are unable to determine the cause despite a battery of tests. Then another girl falls victim, and another.
With no answers as to the cause, everyone in a panic. Desperate for answers, they start blaming everything the can think of: contaminants at the school, the forbidden lake. Finally the easiest and most logical source to blame is the HPV vaccine the girls were forced to receive. All the unknowns force the town into hysteria that eerily parallels that of the infamous Boston witch trials. Struggling for an answer, terrified citizens are prepared to put the blame on anyone they can. When the cause of the ailment is revealed, the town is forced to come to term with secrets so haunting and devastating that it shattered the sense of security they felt about the town around them.
Abbot is an expert at tuning into the inner working of teen girls, bringing to focus issues that, while terrifying, are legitimate and plausible. The suspense she build as she slowly reveals elements of the story is tremendous, leaving readers gasping aloud out of surprise at the chilling conclusion. While the cause of the unexplained illness is far from supernatural, it only partially explains what happened to the handful of victims. It isn’t difficult to speculate that something not of this world had something to do with the devastation that hit this small town.
Parallel to the main storyline is Deenie’s own journey of self-discovery and understanding, struggling with her feelings after her first sexual experience. Her experience will force readers to reflect on our teen years, remembering the volatility and unstable nature of our hormone-driven emotions.
I’ve been a fan of Abbot’s for some time now, yet I believe The Fever might very well be my favorite yet. Abbott discusses subject matters that we, as a society, often shy away from. Yet she confronts them and faces them, head on, unwavering in her need and desire to bring them to light.
Abbott does have a history of writing some pretty dark and maniacal characters. Given the opportunity to as Megan one question, I asked how someone so sweet and charming could write about something so dark and evil. I love her response:
Ha—and thank you! I really like to write about complicated characters facing a crisis and figuring out how to climb their way out. Life can sometimes back us into dark corners, and I’m fascinated by how we get out of those corners, how we survive. That said, maybe I get to be nice in real life because writing permits me to release all my demons! I always loved that Shirley Jackson quote, “So long as you write it away regularly nothing can really hurt you.”
So true, so true! Bottom line: Megan Abbott’s The Fever is an dark and intense exploration of small towns, teen girls, and devastating secrets. Highly, highly recommended.
Be sure to check out the official The Fever blog tour Tumblr page here!