Quick review for a progressive read. This book took me about the amount of time I’d thought since I listened to the audio version (read by Caitlin Davies, Kirby Heybourne, and Joe Barrett, all of whom did a nice job with the narration). But something about “The Fever” felt much more sluggish and awkward in translation than Abbott’s other works, especially for the measure that it traded between three different perspectives. I followed Deenie’s perspective the best among the three, which makes me think that Eli and Tom’s narrations weren’t all that necessary. While I’m used to Abbott’s dark humor and coming of age sexual innuendo (of which there is plenty to be had in this work), I think the translation of that was very awkward and odd from Eli’s and Tom’s perspectives. Then again, it might be the fact that this is the first narrative of Abbott’s I’ve read her featuring two male POV sets. I don’t know.
The Nash family – Deenie, her brother Eli, and their father Tom – all witness events that send their community into a quagmire. Several teen girls at Deenie and Eli’s school fall ill unexpectedly, leading into all kinds of theories and conspiracies as to the cause from the community at large. Some think it’s a recent HPV vaccination, some think it’s the visit to a contaminated lake, and others have various outlandish theories. For all the hysteria and paranoia this event pushes onto the community, I didn’t feel it, and the combination of POV switches and reflective pacing in this novel made the narrative drag much more for me. I don’t think this was as strong of a read as “Dare Me” or “The End of Everything”, though I did appreciate that this was a consistent eye to Abbott’s narrations in terms of how teen girls can be cruel to each other. I expected the ending to be what it was, though it kept me guessing a little while (and Abbott’s good at diverting ehough of the narrative to make you doubt what the actual circumstance is).
A decent read, particularly with the audio narration and thematic, but it wasn’t as strong for me as her other narratives for the way the pacing dragged, the POV hopping and expansions, and the lack of immersive pull for the emotional urgency the premise had.
Overall score: 3/5 stars.