Early Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano

February 16, 2012 Review 2

Fever (The Chemical Garden, #2) Title: Fever
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden #2
Cover Art: N/A | Genre: Dystopian, YA
Excerpt: Yes | Source: Publisher
Reviewed by: Abigail

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Sexual Content:

Sex slavery. Attempted assault. Kissing


Good – A fun read with minor flaws. Maybe read an excerpt before buying.


Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

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.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price – now that she has more to lose than ever.


WITHER was one of my favorite dystopian releases from 2011, and even though I expected FEVER to be a very different type of story based on the ending of WITHER, I think my expectations were still too lofty. FEVER picks up with Rhine and Gabriel having escaped the mansion where Rhine had been forced into a polygamous marriage.  In sharp contrast to the affluent and pampered life in the mansion, Rhine and Gabriel find themselves abducted and forced into a brothel run by a demented and cruel Madame.  Once again, Rhine must play the part of a biddable and grateful girl while secretly plotting her escape.  Life inside Madame’s sex slave tents is harsh and merciless.  The girls are tragic and vicious, the men who patronize the tents are just as desperate and depraved as you would expect.  Since this is YA, the details and descriptions are somewhat sanitized, but it’s all to easy to imagine the atrocities that go on.

What was fascinating about FEVER, and what I was hoping to learn more about, was the world outside the mansion. The various factions, the politics, the first generation elderly mixing with the terminal youth.  How would that society look?  We get some answers in FEVER, and the promise of even more in the next book.  What was less fascinating, was the romance.  Rhine and Gabriel lived on stolen moments, fleeting glance, tiny moments in WITHER.  In FEVER, they are together, but without that constant threat of being caught, their relationship became rather dull.  Gabriel, in particular, became this flat and uninteresting figure that just roamed around in the background.

An inherent problem with trilogies is the often mundane middle book.  FEVER kind of feels that way.  I’m not sure it needed to happen.  The end of the book is where the action is, where the stakes finally rise and events occur that feel purposeful.  But the first 250 pages…I’m just not sure they really added much to this series.  Lauren DeStefano is a tremendously talented writer, so even though the beginning and middle of this book lacked impact for me, I enjoyed reading her phrasing and descriptions, I just wish the plot had been given the same care as every lovingly crafted word.  I am fully engrossed in this world, and the ending was powerful and ripe with excitement, so the final book in The Chemical Garden trilogy (currently untitle
d but scheduled for publication on April 1, 2013) is already on my wishlist.

Previous Books in Series
Also Reviewed By:
  1. Wither – 4/5

2 Responses to “Early Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano”

  1. Brenda Demko

    Thanks for the review. I'm glad you enjoyed Fever. I'm a little behind in my reading. I haven't read Wither yet. 🙁 Hopefully I'll get to it soon!

  2. Abigail

    Wither is amazing! It lingers with you. You'll want to grab Fever too, just keep in mind that it isn't as strong as the debut.