Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review: Fever (Chemical Gardens #2) by Lauren DeStefano

Published by: Simon & Schuster
(Thank you to ATWT for allowing me to participate in this tour!)
Release Date: 02/21/2012

Fever (Chemical Gardens #2) by Lauren DeStefano

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.

Ten Likes/Dislikes

1. (+) Rhine, the protagonist - Rhine has matured a lot since Wither. She takes charge. She's still the girl who takes care of everyone and loves people despite their faults and points out all the harsh details with an almost cruel irony. But she's so much stronger now. I like the twist in her and Gabriel's relationship; I like that she is the one who strategizes and pulls them through their hardships and knows what battles she can win. She almost doesn't sound like a teen because of how mature she is, but it's believable given how harsh their world is.
2. (+) The World-building - In Fever, you get to experience what Jenna did by growing up around a scarlet district. You get to see how cruel the world is beyond the wall and what Rhine's home was like, where she gets her hope from. You get to know more about the leaders, the Gatherers, the politics in the world. And never once did any of this come out in an info-dump. You experience the world along with Rhine.
3. (+) The Side Characters - One thing that DeStefano excels at is creating really believable but flawed side characters. Her slow pace allows for each character to be developed fully, and I loved all the characters: Maddie, Silas, Grace, Lilac, Jared, etc. I loved that even in the cruel carnival, there were good people. I loved that Rhine's freedom was tainted with gross and kind first generations--that not everything falls into a neat category.
4. (+/-) The Romance - There were a lot of sweet scenes between Gabriel and Rhine, and I appreciated that they were trying to figure out how exactly they felt about each other, but their romance didn't work as much as I would've liked because Gabriel as a character fell flat for me. Yeah, he was sweet and caring, and Rhine continued to remind me that he liked plans and that he grew up in the mansion and knew little of life beyond those walls... but his dialogue, his scenes just didn't give me a taste of who he truly is. I didn't get a sense of their chemistry because of this.
5. (+) Villains - Another thing Lauren DeStefano is really good at is creating these really creepy but real villains. Both Vaughn and Madame have that malice and danger that make you believe in them, especially since they believe in their causes so much.
6. (--) Something Missing - Still, I felt like there was something missing in this novel. Wither kept building up to Rhine's escape and in the meantime, we were introduced to her world. That still happens here, and actually there seemed to be more action in general, but I didn't know what I was reading to-- what the goal in mind was, how the carnival was going to relate to Vaughn, what I should hope for. While the slow pace worked well for the character development and cruel luxury in Wither, here it made me feel restless, and several times I did put the book down. I didn't have that urge (as I had with Wither) to read non-stop.
7. (+/-) Details in the World - Some of the details describing the world still faze me, enough so that there wasn't suspension of disbelief and I was pulled out of the story. For instance, what could have possibly caused Germany to stop existing? For these rivers and lands to crumble? When I reviewed Wither last year, I also wondered why marriage-- marriage, to me at least, has religious implications, and what these brides are are just child factories--nothing religious or hopeful about that at all. There is a comment in Fever that talks about how marriage has been mocked, but it didn't work for me. This, along with the Germany comment among others, felt more like a detail that was meant to shock me as a reader than anything else.
8. (+) Hints of her Past - I really liked the continued allusions to Rhine's past, establishing and developing her parents and her brother as characters in a really seamless way. I want to see how Rhine's eyes and the experiments her parents were doing turn out in the third novel. I want to see what kind of a role she will play in the political discussions regarding the cure.
9. (+) The Writing - Lauren DeStefano's writing has always seemed beautiful to me. I love her contrasts and the poignant descriptions. Her talent at creating creepy, sinister moods also is to be envied.
10. (+/-) The Cover - While the cover is an accurate and beautiful portrayal of what happens in Fever, I've never been much a fan of the pink/green combination... and to be honest, it just distracts me. Also, the geometric designs added to Wither's cover but make this cover more cluttered and busy.

Fever will surely appeal to fans of Wither with its beautiful descriptions and haunting world. While it didn't have the same addictive quality that Wither had for me, I would not call it a disappointing sequel (like in sophomore slumps), and I will still watch for the final book in the trilogy.

(My ARC Giveaway for FEVER is posted here, for those of you who are interested.)


  1. Great review Christina. I wasn't a huge fan of Gabriel in the first book, so I'm not sure I'll like him much in this one either. Am still keen to read this though.

    The Cait Files

  2. This book starts off exactly where the first book ended. You are with Rhine and Gabriel and they are on the boat sailing up the coast. Rhine and Gabriel are going to Manhattan to find Rhine's brother. They come across many bumps in their journey and forks in the road. And each challenge in my eyes makes them stronger. They are first kidnapped to become part of a show, then they sneak on a truck and take it to West Virginia, then they make it all the way to Manhattan and that is where all the fun begins. That is where you start to understand the title of the book and where this whole story is going.

  3. I admit i didn't like this book as much as the first one, but I liked how the puzzles of Rhine's past finally start to make sense. It is hard to choose between Gabriel and Linden.


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