The Fever is a mediocre novel that doesn’t quite live up to its Amazon reviews. Abbott is clearly retelling the Salem Witch Trials, but her blatant emulation of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and of the historical event itself falls way short of its source material.High school student Deenie Nash’s best friend has a freaky seizure in the middle of class one day. Nobody can explain the cause of this seizure, so rumors start spreading like wildfire. Explanations range from polluted lake water to moldy classrooms. As more girls fall victim to this unexplained “fever,” the community erupts into an unrelenting panic.
I didn’t like this book. Sorry to be so blunt, but whenever I think about The Fever, that’s my first thought. That and Megan Abbott has some big aspirations but lacks the writing chops to pull them off. Deenie is annoying, and while she spends the novel fretting over whether or not she will be afflicted by the mystery illness, I spent the novel hoping that she’d catch it and die. Her whore of a brother could have made for some interesting plot developments, but instead he only leads Abbott to make some predictable turns that result in disappointment. And Deenie’s father clearly has pedophile potential; at best, he is well on his way to being a dirty old man.
Read The Crucible to see this done right. Panic fueled by a frightened community is a great premise, just not when forced into the stale paradigms of crappy Young Adult fiction (note that I am not saying Young Adult fiction is crappy, I’m saying that Abbott chose the crappy kind to mimic here).