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The Fever Hardcover – June 17, 2014

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2014: Megan Abbott writes about the madness of adolescence better than anyone. She seems to understand teens’ urgent rush to grow up, to try on adult masks and costumes and play adult games. But she also knows: in the big game of pretend, there are often grown-up consequences. In the spooky town of Dryden--“the cloudiest city in the state,” we’re told--high school girls are getting sick, one by one, seizure by seizure. Is the lake toxic? Is the drinking water poisoned? Are vaccinations to blame? Is it the sex? Paranoia begets fear and, fueled by texted whispers and internet rumors, a frenzy roils into a contagious hysteria. Characters’ legs and hands shake. They feel a flutter in the chest. Their chins quiver. It’s hard to breathe. “Don’t you see?” says one parent. “It’s just begun.” The story of what’s afflicting this tainted school is told through the entwined points of view of a divorced teacher, his fast-maturing daughter, and his stud hockey player son, all three tied in their own mysterious way to the source of the fever. The real fever here is the lust, hormones, jealousy, and fear of being a teenager. And high school is its breeding ground, the place that can mark us for life. As one teacher observes: “That’s what high school does.” The Fever is a brilliant and chilling tale of the bewildering age when everything--friendship, love, sex, revenge--feels “new and terrifying and significant.” To survive it? It’s heartbreaking. --Neal Thompson

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Following her brilliant, cheerleading-as-blood-sport Dare Me (2012), Abbott returns to high school for another disturbing drama. In an isolated northeastern town known for its miserable weather, Deenie and her best friends, Lise and Gabby, find themselves at the center of a mysterious epidemic that causes girls to—do what, exactly? The symptoms are puzzling. Lise seizes in class, and Gabby collapses onstage during an orchestra recital, leaving Deenie to wonder if she’s next. Or is she a carrier? The affliction affects only girls, leaving Deenie’s caring science-teacher father and her hockey-player brother feeling worried but utterly helpless. Despite texts and videos sent from hospital beds, information seems as scarce as in the Dark Ages, and rumors and misinformation fly: Is the cause HPV vaccinations? Or the water of the town’s dead lake? Is it—a thought that lurks darkly in Deenie’s mind—­her recent loss of virginity? Once again, Abbott makes an unforgettable inquiry into the emotional lives of young people, this time balanced with parents’ own fears and failings. It’s also a powerful portrait of community, with interesting echoes of The Crucible: it’s the twenty-first century, and, in many ways, we’re still frightened villagers, terrified of the unknown. Abbott may be on her way to becoming a major writer. --Keir Graff

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (June 17, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316231053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316231053
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (199 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

MEGAN ABBOTT is the Edgar award-winning author of six novels, including Dare Me, The End of Everything and Bury Me Deep. Her writing has appeared in Detroit Noir, Queens Noir, Phoenix Noir, New York Times and Los Angeles Times Magazine. She is the author of The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir and editor of A Hell of a Woman, a female crime fiction anthology. She has been nominated for awards including the Steel Dagger, the LA Times Book Prize and the Pushcart Prize. Currently, she is working on the screenplay for her novel, Dare Me, soon to be a major motion picture.

Born in the Detroit area, she graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English Literature and went on to receive her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University. She lives in Queens, New York City.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The minds of teens are fertile, often given to catastrophic thinking (“If I can’t have a certain boyfriend/ coveted pair of shoes/ tickets to a concert, I’ll die.”) and the need to belong. Girlfriends Gabby, Deenie and Lise, all students at Dryden High, are no exception- until the day when Lise is taken by a strange fit in class. When the others learn that Lise has been taken to the local hospital in critical condition, they eagerly indulge in rampant speculation about the cause of her hospitalization, every opinion exacerbated and embellished on social media. Lise has become a male magnet since morphing into a young woman with the curves to turn admirers’ heads, occasioning much gossip and not a little envy from her peers. Gabby, one of the trio, is so stylish that a loyal following emulates her style of dress and affectations, Deenie’s friend since their first days in grade school. Of the three, Deenie Nash is the most level-headed, living with her brother Eli, a hockey star and her father, Tom, a teacher at the school, their mother having left the family for greener pastures, taking her children for random visits, essentially unreliable in a pinch.

As Lise’s unknown medical condition becomes the fulcrum for a crisis built of rumor and fear, the school is slowly infected, one by one, other girls falling prey to strange fits, like the one that delivered Lise to an unknown fate. The template is set, the school-and social media- a breeding ground for rumor, the fits feeding on one unsuspecting teen after another, all of them girls.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on June 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Deenie Nash is in high school, as is her brother Eli, a handsome hockey player who is a bit of a rogue. Their father, Tom, is a teacher at the school. Their mother lives elsewhere. The Fever's drama starts when Deenie's best friend, Lise, is stricken not with a fever, but with seizures. Lise is hospitalized and in a coma when Deenie's newest friend, Gabby, has something that appears to be a seizure while performing in a recital. Other symptoms begin to afflict Deenie's other friends, leading high school girls to text all sorts of inane theories to each other involving rabid bats and a polluted lake. As more girls develop symptoms, CNN turns up to report the growing hysteria.

Hysteria is the novel's driving theme. The Fever touches on the controversy surrounding the practice of giving HPV vaccinations to girls before they become sexually active, which proves to be one of the more popular explanations for the phenomenon that afflicts the girls. Other hysterical parents are convinced that a sexually transmitted disease is responsible for the illnesses despite the absence of any evidence to support that theory. The moral of The Fever is that rational thought is preferable to knee-jerk reactions. But are those parental reactions plausible? In a town populated by exceptionally ignorant people, perhaps, but that isn't how this town is portrayed. I wasn't convinced.

Hysteria might have been a better title for the novel than The Fever, which has almost nothing to do with fever. The novel is largely about teenage girls and their endless capacity for drama (not to mention their addiction to texting). The teenage characters are more interesting than the novel's few adults, all of whom spend their time fretting.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By MSJ on July 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The Fever by Megan Abbott is very similar to her earlier book "The End of Everything"

* A teenage girl on the verge of blossoming womanhood
* A terrible tragic event happens to her BFF
* Nobody knows who is to blame for tragic event until the mystery is revealed in the last few pages
* Lots of red herrings
* A father figure who has an unnatural attachment to the teenage girls (at least there are no undertones of incest in this one).
* The absent mother

The mystery was okay, the characters were not very well developed, and some plot points were completely ignored such as what was the deal with the lake??
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Stormy(Book.Blog.Bake.) on June 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The Fever doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up. Medical thriller? Straight contemporary? A literary look at teenage girls and how we often fear what we don’t understand? Horror? The Fever tries to be a little bit of each of those things at different times, and unfortunately doesn’t really succeed at being any of them.

The beginnings of a pandemic have arrived in this quiet suburban area, and the girls are starting to drop. It starts with a close friend of Deenie’s, the main character, but soon spreads to other girls. None of them are actually dying–not yet, anyway–but they’re having seizures, or bleeding, or showing any number of scary medical ailments. Something’s wrong with the girls, and Deenie can’t help but to feel she’s in the middle of it as those closest to her are the first to exhibit symptoms.

There’s a rhetorical device present in The Fever that I really despise–the introduction info-dump. I’ve found this to be quite common in general/literary fiction, but I hate it every time. The introduction info-dump is when the author “swivels” the reader’s focus to a group of characters in the same vicinity and gives you the back story of each of them, pretty much one right after the other(with maybe a little dialogue or action thrown in to mix it up). I knew I would have trouble with The Fever as soon as that cropped up, but I preserved. In it’s defense, I did think the writing of The Fever grew stronger as the book went along, particularly after the first 20%. Once everything was set up, the story and pacing really did pick up, and the mystery began.

As the story continues, several theories crop up about what’s causing the girls to get sick. These are:

1. The HIV vaccine most of the girls received at school
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