Fever (The Chemical Garden #2)
- Lauren DeStefano
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
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. (Description from Goodreads)
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I feel a little lost after finishing ‘Fever’. The book had so much potential to explore the dangerous world that Lauren DeStefano has created and I feel like it fell flat a little bit. I was a little disappointed with the pace and order of plot; it didn’t grab me at the start of the book, took quite a while to move anywhere and little progress was actually made. If it wasn’t for the last 50 or so pages, ‘Fever’ wouldn’t have impressed me much.
We were presented with an alternative life in ‘Wither’ – a luxury lifestyle that started with kidnapping and forces marriage and ended with lazy days in a mansion; all while being teased with Rhine’s memories of the outside world. In ‘Fever’ we get a taste of that life, many times over. Scarlet Districts, selling your body in tented communities; First Generation families that have lost hope due to lost children; destroyed towns that are nothing like the freedom Rhine described. This book is like looking through a mirror – we’re seeing everything we ever wondered about Rhine’s world. It’s a confronting world and described so well. You can’t help cringing at the lifestyles people are put through and feel emotionally drained imagining living that way yourself. But unfortunately it didn’t hold my interest as much as I wanted it to.
The book had a slow start. I feel like the order of events happens at the wrong times. It’s not that the plot points and revelations were bad, but where they were placed in the story meant there was such a big gap between interesting and shocking moments that made you want to keep reading and discovering the outside world, that I found myself struggling to want to keep reading. There is one such scene that happens mid-way through the book, which I believe would have made a better start. It would have turned the book upside-down and made me desperate to find out what happens next that I would have sat through a tap endlessly dripping for hours just to see where it leads. But, and there’s always a ‘but’; it came too little too late. By the time we had our Shock-Horror revelation it didn’t lead us anywhere.
Part of my biggest problem with this book was Rhine. She fought so hard in ‘Wither’ to escape the confines of being a Sister Bride and then, thrown into equally horrible situations outside of the mansion, she decides to just go with the flow. There’s no spark, no urgency to get out of trouble. I expected her need to find Rowan would make her struggle and fight, but instead we’re taken on a long journey before Rowan really becomes the main focus and a lot of what we see doesn’t go very far. It’s very flat.
I’m a person who really likes a bit of romance in a story. It’s not necessary for me to enjoy a book, but I do like to smile when the girl falls for the guy. But I feel really detached from the potential partners in this story. Linden was missing for most of the book, so you can’t build off the relationship that was present in the first book, and despite both Gabriel and Rhine claiming they want each other, to me, there was little evidence of their connection. I felt more of a connection with Silas, a side character who was “living in the moment” with girls in the back shed because he actually had a bit of a personality and was aware of what was going on with Rhine. Gabriel and Linden both seem sort of oblivious to her thoughts and emotions.
The end of the book did have its interesting moments and I will say it’s the saviour of the story. Vaughn and his evil scientist ways play a big part in the end and I would have loved to have seen more of his plans and experiments; but what we’re given definitely satisfies my need for secretive and mysterious plot twists.
Despite my issues with the book, I’m glad I read it and I do want to see what happens to Rhine and the rest of the gang, but I probably won’t rush out to buy book #3 for release day.
(Originally posted on Goodreads)