In "Fever" the second novel in the "Chemical Garden" series Rhine's obsession with escaping her exquisite but demented prison to find her brother has her fleeing the mansion with Gabriel only to be entrapped in a twisted carnival where they are caged and forced to perform for warped customers who delight in watching their drugged passion. Yet as Rhine struggles with fear, guilt and despair, hoping to find a way out of this new torture she can't forget the husband she betrayed and left behind.
In a dystopian world plagued by corruption, chaos and hopelessness where young females face death at twenty and men at twenty-five, the environment's terrifying especially for girls who are kidnapped by the Gatherers to be sold into marriage, or prostitution if rejected. Even malformed children are shown no mercy and either killed at birth or handed over for genetic research. The mood is dark and uncertain as Rhine fixated on gaining her freedom to return to her twin in Manhattan, escapes one prison only to be trapped in another where she's drugged and exhibited. With her father-in-law Housemaster Vaughn never far behind her life is predicted to get worse before it gets better.
This plot is fast-paced and emotionally-charged as Rhine struggles to break free from Madame Soleski's clutches especially when Housemaster Vaughn shows up take her back to the mansion. The intensity and suspense continually escalates not only with Rhine and Gabriel's perilous journey across a hostile landscape, their discovery of the charred remains of her home in Manhattan, but with her deteriorating health.
Throughout the story the relationship between Rhine and Gabriel seems more of a friendship sparked by her need to free him from Vaughn's abuse. There's very little romantic chemistry between the two even when drugged and swept up in a passionate embrace in Madame's cage. Rhine cannot forget her time with Linden, his kindness and love, and refuses to relinquish her wedding ring although she fears she'll never see him again. With a writing style that's lyrical and flowing, that sweeps you up in a plot that's mesmerizing, it's ironic that the romance between Gabriel and Rhine falls so flat.
Yet Lauren DeStefano creates characters that have a complexity and depth that develops as they face each new challenge. Rhine (Goldenrod) Ashby haunted by nightmares is smart, empathetic but unpredictable. Knowing that her life span is limited she's aloof and guarded with both Gabriel and Linden although both love her. Madame Soleski is the mad, talkative and paranoid drugged - addicted owner of the prostitution den who cynical but noble and self-sacrificing Lilac protects her malformed, daughter Maddie from. In this story amiable and supportive Gabriel tends to be detached at times as he faces not only the pain of drug withdrawal, but the reminders of Rhine's attachment to Linden.
I thoroughly enjoyed "Fever" with Rhine's continuing search for her twin and Housemaster Vaughn's relentless hunt to find and bring her back to the mansion.
The raw disgust, hatred, and loathing towards the male race is evident in this book. Nearly every single male character (aside from Gabriel, Jared, and Silas) are depicted as violent, psychotic, misogynistic, and even rapists. Rhine makes it very clear that being a girl in this world is a terrifying thing, and more than ever she is being treated as an object in this book. Like you would treat a lamp, or a plate. As a girl, I found this book to be a very strong reflection of how women are treated in developing countries, but even I was amazed at how vile all the males were. SPOILER ALERT: We never get to meet Rowan, but from what we learn about him, he suffers from severe temper issues and is prone to destructive violence and is extraordinarily territorial. END SPOILER ALERT. This book is written so beautifully, so eloquently, so detailed, and so disturbing. The author is truly a great writer, and she doesn't shy away from explaining horrific, gruesome scenes (which are plenty in this novel.) We get to meet so many new characters, many of which are terrifying, others of which are quite likeable and interesting.
I can't wait to see what happens to Rhine, Gabriel, Rowan, Cecily, Lilac, Maddie, and Linden.
WARNING: this book is far more graphic, far more gruesome, and far more violent than the first novel. There were many cringe-worthy scenes in this.
on February 29, 2012
Fair warning: this review has some spoilers for Wither, but doesn't contain spoilers for Fever.
I loved Wither for it's twisted and rather disturbing storyline, and I was hoping that Fever would continue in a similar way. Fever picks up right where Wither left off; and in typical dystopian trilogy fashion, it has what I call "middle book syndrome" (this isn't a necessarily a bad thing) where it follows the journey of Rhine once she's escaped.
And I was SO excited and completely, 100% captiviated by Fever and it fulfilled all of my hopes and expectations for it- making another fabulous read from Lauren DeStefano!
Reasons to Read:
1.A world outside the Mansion:
Since Rhine's no longer trapped in the Mansion, we finally get a chance to see (along with her) exactly what the world outside the Mansion is like; there's definitely a lot more world building in that aspect. And it is so disturbingly freaky, and just as twisted as the rest of the plot has been!
There is something so perversed about the world in which Wither takes place, and I honestly find so many of the events taking place, supposedly normal and rather routine occurences, to be constantly shocking. And Lauren writes in such a way, that the impact of this seems almost greater.
We really get to see a couple characters significantly grow and change throughout Fever, rather than just being introduced to them as was the case with Wither. Rhine and Gabriel don't find that everything works out easily for them, and they're often put in difficult situations... and the question is how they'll adapt to those circumstances. But we definitely get to see new sides to them, along with some new characters.
The Chemical Garden trilogy is one book series which has readily stuck with me and I just can't get enough of it! This was one of my must-read books for 2012 and I KNOW that 2013 is going to be even better with the last (sad!) book!
ARC received from Simon & Schuster Canada for review; no other compensation received.
on February 21, 2012
Escaping Vaughn and his crazy experiment and finding her twin brother has been Rhine's goal for months and now that she succeeded with the first phase, it's time for part two! Thankfully, Rhine isn't alone. Gabriel, her faithful friend, is with her on this insane journey and his help will be more than needed to face all the challenges awaiting them along the road. They are out of the mansion, but they're not safe yet, and are they really out of Vaughn's reach?
Let me start by saying that this was one depressing book. If you haven't read Wither, the first book in the series, you need to know that the world Lauren created is harsh. A war destroyed the world as we know it, and only the American continent remains. Humanity tempered with things they shouldn't have: their DNA. The result? Every kid is born with an expiration date. At age 25 for boys, and 20 for girls, they are gripped by a terrible incurable virus. To counter the effect, girls are kidnapped and sold to become wives in polygamous marriages and bear as many child as possible.
In Fever, Rhine and Gabriel find themselves on the road and the world is in even worst shape than Rhine remembered. Kidnapping, prostitution, rape, murder, famine, drugs are only a few elements our pair of heroes will face and it's not pretty. I said it before, it's a very harsh and depressing picture and I would avoid reading Fever if you are already down. DeStefano really mastered the gloomy atmosphere and it's really hard to stay impassive to the events portrayed. I have to tip her my metaphorical hat because she fearlessly addressed some very controversial subjects, and made it work.
I had a love/hate relationship with Rhine this time around. She was strong and determined at times, yet weak and weepy at others. She still has this strong urge to protect others and will find herself in charge of a malformed (as they call 'em) child and I liked it. But on the other hand, things aren't going as she wanted and she is devastated and ready to give up. While it is a very human and real way to react, I want to shake some sense into her! Gabriel was the same sweet boy but he was somewhat subdue compared to Rhine. We also got to meet some great new characters and even if I had higher hopes for his character, I had a sweet spot for Silas.
I liked Fever's plot a lot more than Wither's plot because it constantly moved forward. R&G starts their journey on the run, face a first challenge, they overcome it but not without consequences. As they move toward their goals, they will face even more encounters and once they get to destination, it's nothing like they expected and their mission has to change. It's not over yet though, and Rhine's biggest fear awaits her around the corner. The whole novel is knitted in a way that will keep you on your toes, because there's no way you can guess what will come next.
I hated to cover of Fever when it was first released, but now that I've read the book in totally make sense. The merry-go-round, the tarot card, her outfit and her drug addict look are all meaningful to the story. It's a very daring move from the art department because it's a shocking cover, but at least the readers know what they are getting into!
In conclusion, Fever was a lot more dispiriting than Wither was, which makes it difficult to say that I liked it more, but it sure felt like a much stronger read. This series isn't for the weak-hearted though, so make sure you know what you're getting into when you pick it up. Gloomy, daunting, cruel and distressing, the Chemical Garden trilogy will swipe you off your feet and kick you while you're down for good measure. You'll need time to recover once you're done reading it, but you'll enjoy the ride nonetheless.
on October 17, 2012
I recommend Fever although I thought it was not quite as good as the original book. There are a few clumsy passages - the last chapters could have used more detail in order to make them more interesting, and the ending itself was rather contrived. Overall a good effort. I have already pre-ordered the next book in the series.
on October 7, 2014
Best book in this series by far is book one! But the rest was entertaining too! Overall, it was a creepy, interesting, strange, fun series to read and I would read them again!
on October 3, 2015
The book started slow but got better as it went. The ending sets up for book three in the trilogy.
I received this Advance Reader's Copy for review from the publisher. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.
I started reading Fever immediately after finishing Wither. I literally put down Wither, pondered for a few moments about how it ended, and dove into Fever. I was expecting the adrenaline rush to be carried into this book. I have to say that I am a little disappointed that I wasn't as caught up in the momentum of the story as I was with Wither.
Fever picks up right where Wither leaves off, with Rhine and Gabriel trying to find their way to Manhattan to find Rowan. They both are abducted by Madame Soleski, a lady who runs a carnival that includes a brothel. She is intelligent and realizes the financial potential of a beauty like Rhine with her heterochromic eyes. She keeps both Rhine and Gabriel drugged up so that they cannot escape. Rather than pimping her out as she does with her other girls, she sets up a sort of "peep show" where paying customers can watch Rhine and Gabriel together.
I thought the whole carnival/brothel scene was just very bizarre, and I actually did not care much for this part of the story. I kept wondering when we were going to get on with the story! The story picked up a little bit of excitement when Vaughn tracked them down at the carnival, and then Rhine and Gabriel managed to escape from both Madame's and Vaughn's clutches but not without taking Maddie who is the daughter of one of Madame's girls. With child in tow, they are on the run again to get to Manhattan.
The pace of the book did not pick for me until the last quarter of the book, when Vaughn tracks Rhine down for the second time. I found that the parts of the story that lagged were the ones without Vaughn! He is so deliciously evil that I just love to hate him!
DeStefano did a bang-up job keeping me on the edge of my seat for the thrilling ride to the end of the book, but I was a little disappointed with how this second story in the series progressed. I was so excited for Rhine and Gabriel to begin their new lives and to see their relationship blossom, but that did not happen. I did not enjoy Fever as much as I did Wither, but I think that DeStefano got her groove back by the end of Fever. I hope that Vaughn figures prominently in the final installment of the trilogy, which is due to be released in April 2013.
MY RATING: 4 stars!! It was really good! You should put it on your "To Be Read" list. Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for the opportunity to review this book!