The Fever by Megan Abbott (audiobook)

The Fever: A Novel (Audio) - Megan Abbott

Deenie is a typical teen who lives with her older brother and their dad. Mom, apparently, took off some time ago for greener pastures. Life is filled with the usual teen angst; boy drama, girl drama, sex drama, friend drama, all that fun teen stuff that makes high school so miserable. But Deenie has two best friends and her life could be much worse.

Naturally, this being a book and all, her life does get worse. Her best friend Lise is struck down in the middle of class with something resembling a seizure and is rushed to the ER in dire condition. She does not return to school. There is much speculation. Then Deenie’s other best friend gets sick and then another in her circle and soon, it seems, only Deenie and boys seems immune. The rumors and hysteria begin. Is it the HPV vaccine the girls have all been forced to get? Is the water tainted or is it . . . haunted (gawd, let it be haunted!)? Could all the teen sex happening behind the bleachers be the cause? Or is Deenie a carrier infecting people willy nilly without a care?!

I’ll never tell.

What follows is less a novel of the plague (which I must say really bummed me out) and more of a tale about what happens to a bunch of teens when they aren’t honest to even those who they claim are closest to them. It reads as real and genuine. The kids here aren’t perfect, that’s for sure, and they make a lot of big and small mistakes that are usually unflattering in some way. The author was not afraid to paint her characters in an unattractive light. I loved that most about the story. But I’ll be honest, almost every little event and thought gets analyzed and is agonized over until it all erupts into a messy emotional stew that results in “The Fever” that consumes the town. You probably know your tolerance for this sort of thing. Mine is nearly non-existent, truth be told, but I must’ve either of been having a few rare tolerant days or this author is just very good at what she does because I was not annoyed with all of this inner and outer turmoil. My bet is on the author.

I liked “The Fever” despite the fact that the “fever” referred to in the title was more about the one that infects and riles up the town into a hysterical frenzy than the actual sickness that starts things off. This wasn’t at all the book I was expecting. I wanted the plague, I wanted death and gore and “bring out your dead” kind of fear. It’s my fault for going in on a vague podcast recommendation. This is mostly about the bitchery and cruelty and the little hurts teens casually inflict on each other and themselves. What is written here kept me hooked, even when things got a little weird here and there (umm girls, if you’ve ever felt the urge to help a friend adjust a crooked tampon, you are either a much better friend than I or you are just a sicko). Reading this made me ever thankful that I will never have to relive my teen years. But I’d be lying if I ignored the fact that the ending was a huge non-event after pages and pages of anticipation. It made sense but it was rather mundane.

I listened to this book as an unabridged audiobook. This story is told from Deenie, Eli and dad’s POV and they each get their own narrator. I have no complaint with Deenie and dad’s narration. Their narrator’s sound age appropriate and add emotion to the work. Eli, however, got stuck with a narrator that didn’t seem to fit the character and mostly read in a monotone. I failed to mention that Eli is the hump and dump kind of guy who can’t make a move without getting hit on by a hot girl. He succumbs often and just as often feels guilty about it afterwards. Woe is his life but I’m getting off track . . . My point is, this narrator made him sound so bland and lifeless that I assumed he only got lucky because he had such a pretty face. How he inspired such rabid lust and devotion was beyond me. I admit to 2x his narration after I realized this was the way it was going to be and I do not regret it.

Though it wasn’t horrid enough for me, it wasn’t a horrible read and there were enough cruel little betrayals here to keep me happy and keep it real. I’ll give it a 3.5.