The Fever by Megan Abbott

The FeverThe Fever by Megan Abbott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Fever by Megan Abbott

I’m glad that I waited and didn’t review this right away. If I did, this would have been easy 1 or 2 stars. I was really disappointed after reading The Fever, especially because I liked Dare Me and was really excited for this. Thankfully, life got in the way of writing the review. And by life, I mean sleeping because it was late and I was really tired.

Now that it’s been awhile, I can look back on the book and realize that it wasn’t as bad as I originally thought and that the ending, while lacklustre, made sense. Not only did it make sense, but it fits the overall theme of this novel. I still don’t like it, but I don’t hate it as much as I originally did.

The Fever is about the Nash family as they deal with the sudden and unexpected panic that arise once a girl falls down in class and has a seizure. No one knows what happened or what caused the seizures, but soon enough other girls start falling and the kids, the school, and the media are freaking out.

And boy did they freak out.

After two girls fall, it’s no surprise that conspiracy theories soon follow. Is it due to pregnancy? A weird new form of a STD? The lake has some crazy algae in it, maybe it’s causing the girls to freak out? Maybe it’s the HPV vaccine?

In the end, the cause for the first girl’s bought of seizures was actually something so small that it’s almost laughable at how the town and media reacted to it. The first girl who falls is Lise, who is popular at school. The second one that falls is Gabby, who is also popular. When this happens, it makes sense for people to start to want to mimic the symptoms. This will be the best way to be popular, if you will.

People want to make sense of what is happening, but at the same time they want to be a part of the hysteria that is coming down. And Abbott does a great job with the hysteria and the reaction from everyone else. Like I said before, when you find out the reason why everything started, it’s something so small that you wonder why people did that even though you know the reasons behind it.

A small act can have huge consequences and I think this book definitely showcased that.

That didn’t mean that when I found out I was all like, “Oh Megan Abbott, you clever author you.” No, I wanted to throw the book across the room and ask myself why I spent all that time reading, when the payoff was so blah.

But then again, a small stupid act with stupid reasons behind it can cause people to do stupid things. Sadly, that’s just life, and when you pair it up with high school then fun things happen.

In terms of the characters, I didn’t really connect with any of them. In Dare Me, Abbott did a great job creating a world of unlikeable characters that felt real. I think Dare Me was the first book I read where I didn’t like any of the characters, but still really enjoyed the story. The writing was top notch there too, which is why I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t feel anything towards the characters here and that I was a bit bored throughout the novel.

Overall: The Fever isn’t a bad book by any means, but if you are looking for a thriller, horror, expose into teenagers – you won’t really find it here. I did keep reading it till the end, so the writing is good and flows well, but the characters were a bit bland and the overall story isn’t one that I can recommend. It’s not bad though, at least not as bad as I originally thought. I just wish there wasn’t so many red herrings and that more time was spent on the actual reason behind everything. Because once you finally get to it, it does feel like it comes out of nowhere and after everything that has happened, it’s a bit annoying. Perhaps if we learned more about the reason or got hints here and there, that would have worked better for me.

I still like Abbott’s writing style, so I’ll be reading her next book, I just hope it’s more like Dare Me and less of The Fever.

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California by Edan Lepucki

CaliforniaCalifornia by Edan Lepucki
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first time I heard about California by Edan Lepucki was when she visited the Colbert Report. She was being interviewed about her sales since the plug Colbert made in a previous episode that I never got to watch. So as I sat there watching the video on the computer, I decided that I should check out the book. The thing that made me want to read this the most was that Lepucki mentioned that it has dystopian elements in it. Even though I’ve been a bit burned by this genre before, I do still like it so I really wanted to read California.

Now that I did, I feel like it is an okay book. Not good, not bad, just okay. I don’t think this will be a book that everyone will like and judging by the rating and reviews I’ve read, it truly seems like this is the case. There are some interesting elements at play here and I did like some of the plot lines, it’s just that everything seemed a bit bland. No, not bland. I don’t think that’s the right word to use here. It’s just…not what I expected.

California starts off with Frida and Cal living in the great outdoors. The couple moved out here after a flu outbreak and other things (that were never fully explained) left the world in chaos. The internet is only used by the rich few. Schools are hard to come by, since there’s no money for anyone, so girls like Frida are forced to not go and have her education limited while the boys still get to play. It sucks, but I can definitely see it happening.

In any case, the two leave the city and head out in the wilderness where they farm, hunt, go at it like rabbits, and enjoy life like the no one else is around. Because, there is no one else around. There was one couple, along with their two kids, but they soon passed away. Their only other human contact that they have is a travelling salesperson who provides them with goods for a cost.

One Frida becomes pregnant all that changes. Her need to be with others drives her and Cal to some spikes, where they finally meet someone who introduces them to their community. The more the young couple stays with them, the more they start to realize that something dark is amiss. For one thing, where are all the kids? And if Frida is pregnant and expecting, what will happen to her child?

Now, this does sound pretty awesome, and I definitely felt like some moments were. It’s just that, the characters of Frida and Cal were stupid. Neither of them grows as people and they constantly make the same mistakes. Cal had a hero complex, while Frida never thinks about what she wants to do. She has tunnel vision. Once she wants something, she’ll set out to do it even if she shouldn’t. Like at all. At all.

The thing is, can I really dislike Frida as a person if her character remains consistent to how she was written? Granted, I did like her chapters more than Cal’s, but she is stupid. There were times when I thought, why? Why would you say this when you know that bad things will happen to her and Cal…I mean, I just don’t understand her thought process. But she is consistent, which makes me wonder if I should fault the character when this was how she was always written.

I mean, we’re told that when she was younger she’d know her period was in when there was blood on her underwear. This would cause her to constantly buy new panties, because her period was that irregular. Only, once she starts keeping track of it she realizes that her period is actually on a pretty tight schedule and it never deviants from it. Most people, at least I’d hope most people, would have realized that after the first few times you start bleeding from the crotch, but not our Frida. She simply goes with the flow and when she realizes things are different, she just goes with that one too.

I could talk about Cal, but I mostly found him boring so….

I did like some of the plot. Even though it was slow, I liked the air of mystery and loneliness of the first half of the novel when it was mostly Frida and Cal alone in the woods. I know others didn’t, but I quite liked it.

I also liked the community and the leader. He wasn’t charismatic, but I did understand why everyone made him their leader and why he did what he did for them. The residents were afraid and he took it and made it into a town where people could actually function and not let the past take over.

What I didn’t like was the dystopian/post-apocalyptic aspect, only because I never really felt it or understood it. I don’t know why the world was destroyed or why resources and money was limited. There was a thing about a terrorist group, but even that wasn’t explained all that well.

Overall: I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I mean it has a lot of things that I like in novels, but some of the plot lines never really took off and I couldn’t stand Frida and Cal. By the end of the novel I was wondering how it was possible for them to survive in the wilderness for two years when it seemed like all they could do was grow beets.

But then again, Frida may be TSTL and Cal may be a boring person with a hero complex, but they were consistent with their characterizations. I dunno, I’m on the fence with this. It didn’t live up to my expectations, but it also isn’t the worse book I’ve ever read. I did manage to get to the end and even though I hated Frida, I did enjoy reading her chapters so I guess that says something.

California was provided by netgalley

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Unwept by Tracy Hickman & Laura Hickman

unweptHardcover, 272 pages
Published July 1st 201


I think I was pulled by another pretty cover, but who can blame me right? It’s gorgeous and has a touch of mystery surrounding it too. When you add on the synopsis, which promises a creepy small town mystery, I knew that I had to read the Unwept.

The book starts off strong in the prologue. A girl is in a coffin and the entire experience both creepy and disturbing. After the prologue, the book is pretty good. We’re introduced to Ellis who is coming down to Gamin, Maine via train. She’s with a nurse, who she doesn’t remember, and a baby. Only the nurse keeps telling her to ignore the sleeping child and acts like they don’t exist. When Ellis leaves the train, she realizes that no one else got on the train even though there are many people at the train station. Almost like no one ever leaves this place.

Ellis then meets the other members of the small town. Just like the nurse on the train, everyone remembers Ellis even though she doesn’t know any of them. The only one she has some inkling of remembrance for is her cousin Jenny.

The town, in itself, seems almost sinister despite the smiles and happiness of its citizens. No kids are here and people keep mysteriously dying. Ellis also has dreams of a man who turns into a moth.

All this sounds great, right? Perfect for an eerie mystery where you’re not sure of what’s what and who is who. Only…only I found the Unwept to be kind of boring. The mystery is very slow moving and by the time everything is reveal, you stop caring. It’s not shocking, it’s just there.

Even though this is a small book and should be a short read, I found myself struggling to get through it. I liked Gamin and I did like the beginning of the novel, but everything else failed to live up to its potential. The other characters were one note and when two of them decided to escape, it almost didn’t make sense because you didn’t understand their motivations.

Overall: Maybe the next book in the series will be better, especially since some of the secrets have now been brought to light, but unfortunately, the Unwept was slow moving, lacked proper character development, and was boring.

Novel was provided by netgalley

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Look Behind You by Sibel Hodge

Look Behind YouPaperback, 238 pages
Published 2014 by Createspace

I’ll start by saying that Look Behind You does first person present tense in the right way. The writing was smooth and the story was fast paced, which is perfect for this particular style.

Look Behind You, other than that it never really comes together. The story could have been an interesting one, except the readers are hit over the head about what is happening right from the get go. Once Chloe, the main character, leaves her prison and talks to someone other than herself, you already know what is going to happen. I’m not even exaggerating.

As I continued on with the story, I kept asking myself, “It can’t be this obvious, is it? Maybe it’s going to pull a Gone Girl?” Unfortunately, it was that obvious and thus it was that predictable. This left me frustrated and incredibly disappointed, because the writing is good.

The author does try to bring in more suspects, but they never produce as much weight as the first one. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. I’ve read stories before where the ‘bad guy’ is in plain sight and the story ended up being great. The problem with how it’s handled here, is that the ‘bad guy’ is so over the top, so in your face, so unredeemable, that it took me out of the story.

I know that we’re meant to question whether or not Chloe is going crazy and if all of this is in her imagination, but that too isn’t done well. I might have felt like she was going insane, due to her not taking her pills, if the ‘bad guy’ wasn’t present as the bad guy. I do like unreliable narrators, but the first suspect is clearly the villain so you can’t ever really question Chloe’s sanity. She’s sane and he’s the bad guy. It is what it is.

Overall: If I had to describe this novel, I’d say that it’s a mixture or the movie Gone, with Amanda Seyfried, and the novel How to be a Good Wife, only the execution isn’t that good and there’s no real mystery surrounding who did it. The writing is good and Hodge kept me reading, but the execution and the characters just fell flat. A novel billed as a mystery-thriller needs to have those things in order for it to be good and unfortunately, this didn’t.

Novel was provided by netgalley

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The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian

The Wicked We Have DoneEbook, 272 pages
Published: March 18th 2014

Let me start by saying that I’ve read a few NA novels and all of them disappointed me; the romance, the guy who the main character loves, even though he’s a clear psycho, and the angst and drama about every little thing….it drove me insane. I’m still not sure what NA is, since it seems like YA with tons of sex and abusive guys, but I think it’s starting to find its footing. Hopefully.

So when I heard of ‘The Wicked We Have Done,’ I was excited. Here’s a NA book that seems to be more about the story instead of the angsty romance. And for the most part, it delivered on this point. I like the concept of criminals fighting in a system that judges ones morality. Do these group of misfits have what it takes to prove to themselves and the world that they’ve truly repented?

Enter the Compass Room. It’s a new simulation type room that will ‘test’ the inmates and mess them up psychologically. They’ll have to relieve their crimes and face what they’ve done. If they can do this for three months and show a level of change, then, and only then, can they be released and enter a bright new future.

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Pointe by Brandy Colbert

PointeHardcover, 352 pages
Published April 10th 2014

“I lie there alone and think of all that I’ve lost and I wait for the tears to come but they never do.”

I’ve been debating whether to give this a three or four. Normally, main characters that constantly think about guys, talk about guys, and dream about guys, are annoying. I always want to say, “Shut up! There’s more to life than guys!” I then start to question whether my high school life was boring, because I didn’t spend every waking moment talking about guys.

And yet, Pointe is a novel where the main character will obsess, analyze, and talk about two guys at ad nauseam. I mean, she goes on and on and on. But, because of what the plot, the great writing, and how broken Theo was, I felt bad for wanting to slap some sense into her. I still wanted to, but I felt bad. Really bad. So I’d probably give her a hug or something afterwards.

I think, that’s why I liked Pointe as much as I did, even though there were some issues with this novel. I can’t mention much about the story without spoiling things, but the book starts off with Theo finding out that her childhood best friend, Donovan, has returned home after being gone for four months. Everyone assumed he was killed, but still held some hope that he’d be alive.

When he returns, Theo is forced to look at her past and face some shocking truths about herself and Donovan. It’s not easy to read and it is disturbing, but what makes it so heartbreaking is Theo’s rendition of the events. Again, I can’t really say much without spoiling so yea.

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Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson

servants of the stormKindle Edition, 384 pages
Expected publication: August 5th 2014

Hmmm. I feel bad, because Servants of the Storm should be a book that I love. It has a beautiful cover, the synopsis promises some creepy mystery, and the main character is biracial, which is something you don’t see in a lot of YA.

And when I first started to read this book, I was really into it. The first two chapters were great and really helped set the scene for this creepy tale. Billie Dove, aka Dovey, and Carly are at home alone when hurricane Josephine rages through their small town. During this encounter, Carly is swept away and dies. Dovey is obviously heartbroken. She not only lost her best friend, but she lost her in a horrible way.

After a few episodes she experiences, Dovey is forced to take some anti-psychotic pills to help her calm down. It’s been a year since Carly died and Dovey hasn’t been the same since. She’s loopy and tired due to the pills, and her once bright outlook on life comes to a screeching halt. Her popularity, her friends and her grades all fall as she’s now known as the crazy one. All that changes when she sees Carly at their favourite coffee shop. Carly, who died a year ago. Carly, who shouldn’t be alive at all.

Dovey decides that in order to find out the truth, she needs to stop taking her pills. Her pills keep her loopy and she needs to be as focused as possible in order to solve this mystery. This helps make Dovey an unreliable narrator, as the reader constantly asks themselves, “Is this all true? Or is she just having another episode?”

All of this sounds great, which is why I’m disappointed that I didn’t like it as much as I should have. Despite some really well done scenes, I found the story to be lacking. And even though I liked that Dovey was unreliable, that didn’t stop me from finding her insufferable and TSTL.

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The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and Nowebook, 288 pages
Expected publication: April 8th 2014

I’ve never read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants; the most I’ve been exposed to it was seeing the previews to the movies, which I also didn’t see. So The Here and Now is my first experience to Ann Brashares. Was it a good one? Kind of, yea, kind of is a good word to use here.

When I first started the book, I was pretty into it. I like time traveling stories and seeing what the authors do with them. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it isn’t, but the journey is usually what I’m after so I was excited to read this.

Prenna comes from the future where the world has gone out of wack and people are dying in huge numbers. In order to save some of the remaining humans, someone created a time machine and POOF they popped up in our time period. They’re saved from their disaster, but that doesn’t mean that they’re free. Since they’re in our world, Prenna and her fellow time jumpers have to live a strict life filled with not exposing their way of life. You can’t change what’s to come, you can’t have relations with anyone other than those who jumped with you, and you are definitely not allowed to tell people the truth about you.

Sounds interesting, right? Kind of like a dystopian like world set in our world. But here lies the problems.

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Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington

liv, forever
Hardcover, 280 pages
Expected publication: March 11th 2014

Liv, Forever has a beautiful cover, a synopsis that has you itching for more, and the added bonus of having the main character be dead near the beginning of the novel. But do all of these things, with the added bonus of secret societies and ghosts make Liv, Forever a great novel?

In some ways, yes. I liked reading Liv, Forever and I thought it was a pretty good debut novel for Amy Takington. Was it perfect and mind blowing? Unfortunately, no. The main problem I had with the novel was Liv Bloom, who incidentally is also the main character for this story.

While Liv is alive, which doesn’t last long by the by, she seems awkward and loveable. There’s a scene in the beginning of the novel where the new students at Wickham Hall go through a scary prank of some sort. While the old students laugh about their prank and the new students get excited, Liv just questions the whole thing and makes the entire room go silent. I love that. That aloof awkward combo made me want to read more about her.

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Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy Hardcover, 240 pages
Expected publication: January 28th 2014

There are times when you pick up a book and get completely sucked into the story, so much so, that when you finish the book you simply want to read it again and again. And then another time, just for good measure. And when it comes to ‘Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy’ by Karen Foxlee, I think some readers may feel this way once their done.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is a simple story that’s been told before. There’s a damsel in distress, a hero, and an evil witch who is bent on destroying the world. The hero must save the prisoner in order to defeat the witch and save the world. Save the prisoner. Save the world. You know that sort of thing. And with this sort of story, you know how it’s going to end. The hero is victorious and the world lives to see another day, at least until the next villain shows up. But the ending is never the important part. The important part is how the hero becomes stronger and grows as a character in order to succeed their mission.

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