With all the buzz recently regarding The Hunger Games movie adaptation, I felt that it was definitely appropriate to review what is fast becoming my favorite new dystopian series, The Chemical Garden Trilogy. (as a side note, if you haven’t seen The Hunger Games yet, do it!) I’m always interested in new dystopian novels, and the premise plus the awesome cover art drew me into the first book in the series, Wither (see review here). Naturally I had to continue on, so when book two, Fever, was published at the end of February I jumped at the chance to continue reading.
We are again thrust into the surreal world created by Lauren DeStefano where a genetic mishap ensures that women live to 20 and men live to 25. We are reunited with Gabriel and Rhine as they make their escape from the mansion and the housemaster Vaughn. Although one would hope that they would finally reach a safe haven after the terror of the first novel, it is not to be. Gabriel and Rhine find themselves trapped in a carnival of sorts that employs a legion of young girls against their will. Just when Rhine thinks that she is beginning to understand her situation and has Gabriel to help her, she is thrown into another period of chaos and terror that shakes her faith in the world in which they live. Their only beacon of hope is Manhattan, where Rhine’s twin brother Rowan lives and can offer them shelter from the terrors they endure. The only problem is in getting there. What will happen to Rhine and Gabriel? Will they ever be able to reach safety again?
WOW. Just……WOW. Wither was stellar, leading me to have extremely high expectations for Fever. I can 100% say that I was not disappointed at all. Readers are given new locations and new horrors to deal with in this futuristic society that are just as bad as the ones Rhine and Gabriel left behind at the mansions. I thought that DeStefano did a great job at continuing to bring us a world with multilayered, action packed conflicts. Just when Rhine and Gabriel think that they’re on the path to freedom and safety, they’re thrust into a world that I think is worse than the one that they escaped from. The carnival that they’re trapped in is hands down the creepiest location that we’ve seen yet in this series. The fact that drugs are used to a. keep Gabriel in check, b. the girls of the carnival subdued to “perform”, and c. force Rhine and Gabriel to perform in cages together for the benefit of the crowd is quite sickening. What makes the carnival so scary is the loss of free will. Sure, there are times when others in the camp help aid in their attempts to escape, but the time spent there is frighteningly dark and DeStefano does a fantastic job at really getting this darkness right.
I really like the character development in this novel, but most especially with regard to Gabriel. We only get to see him for small periods of time in Wither, so it was refreshing to learn more of his back story as well as see him grow as a person and a man in Fever. Rhine, too, grows and learns that sometimes in order to protect the people around her, she must give in to those who make her life hell. She becomes less selfish and more selfless in Fever, which greatly added to the respect that I have for her as a character and a heroine. For those of you who are new to the series, I definitely recommend adding it to your to-read pile. Frightening, fascinating, and completely unpredictable, The Chemical Garden Trilogy is definitely a series you need to jump on board with.
5 out of 5 Stars
This is my eighth completed review for the Around The Stack In How Many Ways Challenge
Fever by Lauren DeStefano
Simon and Schuster (2012)
Hardcover: 352 pages