Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago – surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.
The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous – and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion…by any means necessary. – Goodreads
I hate to say it, but Lauren DeStefano’s Fever is yet another disappointing read for me this year. Considering how much I loved Wither, I was very much looking forward to seeing what Lauren DeStefano had up her sleeve in this newest installment. Unfortunately, it was an underwhelming sequel that read like unnecessary filler between the first and final book in the series.
Fever picks up immediately where Wither left off, with Gabriel and Rhine’s escape from the mansion. Normally this would be great, as I hate having to go through a recap of what characters have gone through since the last book, but I wish there had been a pause to allow the Gabriel and Rhine some time to appreciate the success of their freedom. I think there could have been some emotional impact from that. Instead, they’re quickly captured and forced into a carnival brothel under the helm of a character known as Madame. I may be wrong, but the events that took place there didn’t seem to tie in with the series as a whole. Sure, the situation was horrific, but the characters they met and the things they had to go through? Very forgettable as the conclusion approached. It felt like those scenes were only inserted for the shock factor and, without giving anything away, they became very irrelevant when the storyline from the first book resurfaced.
In addition to the dragging pace, the characters came across as very flat. The first book resonated with me because of Rhine’s relationship with the sister wives. For better or for worse, there was feeling between the characters and, for me, that was the highlight of Wither. With Fever, there was no attachment to anyone. Rhine is in a haze for a good portion of the book, which certainly didn’t allow me to connect with her character, but there was no growth from the others either. Gabriel? Same bland guy from Wither. The new characters? Um, I think it’s enough to say that I can barely remember their names.
The last third of Fever really proved to me how full of filler it was. Unlike the previous two parts, the conclusion really picked up steam and easily tied in with the larger series storyline. As I continued on, it was frustrating to see how few pages were left to turn before it was over. THIS was what I had been waiting for the entire book, THESE were the characters I cared about, and OF COURSE I was going to have to wait another year to come full circle.
Overall, I found Fever to be lacking in the emotion and character focus that made me love Wither so much. Lauren DeStefano’s prose was still lovely, but I wish the story arc transitions had tied together more seamlessly. I think the final installment of the series will be an improvement from this one.
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