Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Review - Lauren DeStefano's Fever

Fever (The Chemical Garden Book 2) by Lauren DeStefano
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: February 21st, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
Rating: ★
To Buy

Rhine is free of her husband, but there is more then one kind of prison as she is quick to learn as she and Gabriel are captured by a madame who runs a carnival inside a wickedly electrified fence. Rhine and Gabriel are trying to get to New York from Florida and have only made it as far as South Carolina before their luck starts to run out. Kept in a drugged state, the two of them perform for madame's customers, hoping that they can break free and find Rhine's brother Rowan. But once free of the carnival they face more horrors then they can imagine, all with Rhine's father-in-law quick on their heels. Stowing away on trucks, Angel Blood withdrawal, unexpected comrades, creepy men, snatchers, danger at every corner with no money and no food. Rhine is starting to realize just how naive she was in thinking that she just had to get away from her husband's house, because his reach is far. Can she ever escape the marriage she was forced into and go back to her old life?

Never in all my years of reading books has a series gone to the bad so fast and so irrevocably. I might point a figure at Mary Norton and her Borrowers, but that was more her tendency to drop plot points and start each book from scratch then writing a hot mess that is just shit. If this series had been just content to leave well enough alone ending with just the right amount of hope and ambiguity with Wither then I'd be all for DeStefano. As it stands, I'm having a hard time coming to terms with a series that started out so uniquely and so strongly and having it turn so unoriginal, disjointed, dark, and dare I say, predictable?

Was this really how the series was outlined? Because Wither clearly states it's book one in a trilogy... so, seriously, this was the plan? THIS? I am just baffled. Fever has no identity, no core of originality, it quite literally doesn't know what it wants to be so it tries to be everything and fails at it all... it just has so many random dystopian tropes thrown into it that my head wants to explode. The impossible love story, evil carnies, the dying hooker with the heart of gold, the sad little crippled girl who everyone underestimates... blurg. When the book eventually got to the "good" orphanage, I expected a medley from Annie to be sung. Just no.

Yet Rhine is the biggest shock of all. She came across as a unique and intelligent, if confused, girl in Wither. What the hell happened? Now she's all naivete and seriously stupid. It seems as if once Gabriel and Rhine left the house they lost their identities in the process and became bumbling idiots. Rhine grew up on the streets of New York. She had to have been street savvy and smart to avoid capture all these years. The only reason she got caught was because it was a fake job set-up, not because she was dumb enough to be pulled off the street our dragged out of her home. Heck, her and her brother killed the last man who invaded their house! Yet outside Linden's estate, oh gosh, let's steal this boat, oh dear, we don't have money, shucks, we've been captured by an evil madame who runs a carnival and is going to turn us into sex salves... say what!?!

Rhine had how many freakin' months planning this escape and she didn't think to, oh, I don't know, steal a whole heck of a lot of the jewelry Linden gave her and hide it under her clothes to fund their flight? And how about not stealing a boat that can only run on fuel, I thought Gabriel knew about boats, so get something with a sail as well as a motor idiots. Oh, and yes Rhine, Gabriel is in love with you and wants something more, so stop acting like it's a shock, you do know what goes on behind closed doors, or in tents... and of course Vaughn put a tracker in your leg, before the wedding he obviously examined you to see if you could bare children, it only makes sense that he would tag you as the cattle he views you are.

Fever seems to take, not just one step back from the progress it made on women's rights and personal liberties, but it seems to jump off a cliff. Wither smartly showed us a world of exploitation and horrors that was relatable and fascinating, but never stooped to sensationalism. Everything had it's reason, everything was there for a purpose, to show us how the three wives coped, to show us what captivity did to Rhine's state of mind, everything in it's perfect place giving us a compelling narrative. Yet here it seems that the book has shifted away from the exploration of these salient arguments and instead has embraced exploitation.

The sex carnival seems to be not there for a discussion on the personal liberties of brides versus whores, but to my mind, there just for sensation, to make us shocked. Therefore all the good the first book has done is ripped down with shock for shocks sake with no insight, no deeper meaning. The sex and drugs that Rhine was previously exposed to were a creepy background threat lurking in the shadows, here the sex and drugs come forefront and are exploitative, and not in any way that is good or open for discussion. Seriously, a prostitution carnival? Just, no.


Newer Post Older Post Home