So I have to start this review off with a confession. Wither, the first novel in the Chemical Garden Trilogy, was really strange. After reading it, the more I thought about it the less I liked it. Usually, it’s the opposite, especially because if I didn’t like it I normally don’t ever think about it again. However, I mustn’t be judgmental because it seems weird, the story was interesting enough; hence I picked up the second installment, Fever by Lauren Destefano.
Fever starts where Wither left off, with Rhine and Gabriel escaping from the Mansion and Rhine’s pitiful excuse of a marriage to Linden. Rhine is desperate to find her twin brother, Rowan, and they both discover that living outside the mansion is a hundred times more dangerous than they thought.
This book was really, really depressing. I’m talking Series of Unfortunate Events depressing. No matter what they do, or where they go, or how hard they try, Rhine and Gabriel are doomed to pain, suffering and bad luck. The ONLY redeeming quality in the gigantic, black cloud hanging over this book is Rhine’s inevitable (although always at the last minute) drive to fight the darkness and battle for freedom.
I was really disappointed in the dark, down tone of this novel. I was even more disappointed in the lack of progression in the relationship between Rhine and Gabriel. At some points I was left wondering if they even liked each other. Wouldn’t you be super excited to finally be with the one person you loved and live in freedom together? Wouldn’t you be on them like white on rice? I know I would, but Rhine and Gabriel barely touch each other until half way through. There needed to be more dialogue. (Most of the time I find myself complaining that there is too much mushy dialogue in Young Adult novels, but in this novel, there is scarcely a word spoken between the two.). Where was the affection? Where was the love? I didn’t see it other than the fact that they stuck together.
This novel had a lot of cruel twists. I found myself wincing at the brutality of each situation Destefano forced upon her characters. I have sympathy that their creator is so vindictive. However, Destefano asks the hard questions in survival of the fittest. She leads us to the point of breaking, where we need to personally decide whether the power of love is enough to overcome or if succumbing to the suffering is all we have left. It all made me very, very sad. I’m so glad I do not live in this world.
The element of foreshadowing through the tarot card reading brightened this book as the filler of the trilogy between the first and last books. It leads me to believe that Rhine is a lot more important to the world at large and that she could make ultimate change someday. I didn’t really enjoy this book very much but I am interested to see where it goes. It was too depressing for me. Usually in Dystopian novels, the love between the main characters drives us to hope, but in Fever I just felt hopeless.