Book Report: The Fever

Time for another beach reads pick! Today I’m talking about The Fever by Megan Abbott – an intoxicating read that’s ideal for when the temperature spikes.

Megan Abbott The Fever

What’s The Buzz?: Megan Abbott has a pretty impressive resume behind her; a PhD in literature, six hit novels (including buzzy 2012 dark cheerleader-focused novel, Dare Me) and a rather dedicated following. For her latest venture into the fiction pool, she once again turns her lens onto the mean girls that stalk the halls of a high school in a sleepy town that becomes the focus of a pseudo-witch hunt as a mysterious outbreak bears down on the town’s teenage girl population.

What’s The Plot?: The Fever is told in three alternating perspectives from within a single family. Deenie is an average teenage girl navigating the bizarre social nuances of high school, including being caught between her two not overly friendly best friends, Gabby and Lise. Her father Tom is a well-liked high school teacher and single parent that is filled with alternating pangs of worry, resentment and guilt. Her brother Eli is a dreamy hockey player that girls simply fall over themselves for – yet Eli doesn’t seem to entirely know what to do with this unrequited adoration. The morning after Deenie loses her virginity, Lise collapses into a frightening and dangerous seizure, and is whisked away to the hospital where’s she kept under virtual lock and key – and whisperings arise about what could have caused the incident. Those whisperings intensify as a second girl is struck by this mysterious, frightening, yet inconsistent illness – is it a side effect of the mandatory HPV vaccine? Does the town’s algae-consumed lake have anything to do with it? Is the school poisoned? Is there something more sinister – maybe even magical – at play? As the hysteria rises in the shadow of a looming outbreak, Deenie and her family are carefully and individually putting together the pieces of this tangled, rather personal puzzle.

Is This A Fantasy Novel?: Nope! I can tell you right now, a magical hex does not suddenly befall the residents of Dryden that causes this mysterious illness, nor is this an end-of-the-world apocalyptic story. The central crux of The Fever is, on paper, what made these girls sick? And by the end of the story, Abbott presents some real explanations for everyone involved, touching on the various theories expounded on by the parents and media throughout the book. Abbott doesn’t really deal in fantasy – her novels have a gritty, hard edge that very much capitalizes on the concept of the truth being almost stranger than fiction.

So Is It A YA Novel?: Typically speaking, as soon as a protagonist is a teenager, you might assume the book is meant for young adults. That’s really not true with Megan Abbott’s novels – they’re that rare breed that happens to look at teenagers through a literary fiction lens. While a teenager could in theory pick up The Fever and enjoy it, they definitely have an adult tone and are missing that glossy sheen that you tend to find with YA fiction. The fact that one of the three main protagonists here is a divorced adult male should also clue you in that this really isn’t a teen-oriented book.

Beach Read Potential?: This one is a bit of a page turner – as the world spins out of control in this contained little community, don’t be surprised if you end up oblivious to the outside world. While not set in the summer specifically, it does have regular references to going for a dip in the town’s lake, as well as mentions of the surprisingly steamy spring weather. While not the sunniest, flakiest of stories, it’s definitely scintillating.

Who Should Read This Book?: One of the first things that popped into my head upon finishing The Fever was: any parent (or even grandparent) of a teenage girl should read this. Actually scrap that, any parent of a teenager or near-teenager. Between the parental hysteria of trying to protect your children and the sharp insights into the almost deranged brains of high schoolers, this book offers a lot to the adult reader. It’s also kind of an interesting, muted counterpoint to some of the apocalyptic fiction out there (or movies like Contagion), in terms of the dreaded ‘snowball effect’ that’s on grand display here – is the titular fever what’s impacting the girls, or is it meant to represent the increased hysteria of our society? I’m not a parent and I still found it insightful in terms of capturing some of those real, honest-to-goodness truths about the collective high school experience.

You can pick up The Fever starting today for $29. Finally I’ve got some feverish good news for you lot – I’ve got a copy of The Fever for you to sweat away with this summer. Here’s how to enter:

1) Tell me in the comments below by July 3, 2014 – why do you want to read this riveting book?

2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around July 4, 2014 to select the winner(s), who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.

3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.

4) Bonus Entry #1: Like Hachette Book Group Canada on Facebook and leave a comment on the wall as to why you’re interested in reading The Fever. You don’t have to mention CGG, but you do have to leave a link to your comment below.

5) Bonus Entry #2: Add The Fever to your ‘to-read’ list on Goodreads. Leave a link back to your to-read list on the page where the book is included to earn yet another bonus entry.

IMPORTANT: Please ensure all entries are submitted as separate comments. That means your base entry, and each of the bonus entries, should be 3 individual comments – otherwise your entries won’t be counted!

37 Responses to “Book Report: The Fever”
  1. janicour says:

    A dark thriller, with a Canadian flavour, I would like to readi ti. Some reviews on the writing style have not been favourable, and I would like to form my own opinion.

  2. Natalie says:

    I’m a big fan of typical “beach reads” but this sounds like it’s more engaging so it definitely has potential to be one of MY beach reads. Plus I would love the chance to read a book with a teenage protagonist that isn’t YA – it sounds like an interesting (and somewhat rare) perspective.

  3. Susan says:

    I would love to read The Fever because it sounds like a mystery, and because my eldest niece will be a teen next year!

  4. Susan says:

    I commented on Hachette Book Group Canada.

  5. Audrey Skinner says:

    I would love to win this book for my niece who has 2 teenage daughters.

  6. Lori P says:

    I’d love to read ‘The Fever’ because I love a good mystery, which in this case would lead to getting to the heart of what happened. Sounds like a very interesting and compelling Summer or any-time-of-year read!

  7. GARRY S says:


  8. Laura Piedade says:

    I would like to win The Fever because it sounds like an interesting read.

    I put i on my to read list on Goodreads!

  9. Susan T. says:

    I love books about outbreaks of viruses or diseases or strange phenomena like conversion syndrome. I’m not sure that this book is about that but it sounds like it could be. I love a good mystery too!

  10. Susan T. says:

    I like Hachette on FB as Susan Terendy. My post:

  11. Angela Mitchell says:

    I’ve never read anything by Megan Abbott but she’s definitely been on my radar. As the parent of a preteen the topic really interests me too.

  12. katydidit21 says:

    It sounds like an interesting read and I am intrigued by the author. I haven’t read anything by her yet.

  13. CLC says:

    I’d like to read Megan Abbott and this sounds like the place to start.

  14. Wanda Bergman says:

    I would love to read this book because I’ve enjoyed Megan Abbott’s book in the past and this novel is new to me.

  15. Lisa says:

    I have a 13 year old and I think I would enjoy this book.

  16. Deloris Christian says:

    It appears to be an interesting unique read. Great for the summer!

  17. Anne Derkat says:

    Sounds like an interesting read and a new to me author that I would like to read.

  18. mousecat says:

    You had me when you mentioned that it was a page-turner!

  19. Joan G. says:

    I love a good mystery and enjoy reading new talented writers.

  20. George Meek says:

    My wife is an avid reader and I’m sure she would like this prize book.

  21. beewbedard says:

    this book sounds like a great read

  22. beewbedard says:
  23. lucy kabatoff says:

    would love to read this book

  24. Holly says:

    Its not something I would normally read but I would give it a shot!

  25. sarah tennyson says:

    honestly I want to read this book just because I need a new book to read soon 😉

  26. melanie Borhi says:

    I love thrillers and books that keep me at the edge of my feet and I think id enjoy reading this book because it would provide me with the excitement to keep on reading and it sounds to me like a great read for the summer

  27. aarone m says:

    it looks really interesting!

  28. It sounds really interesting and i have read some of her other books.

  29. ikkinlala says:

    I’d like to read this because sometimes it’s hard to find realistic page turners – fantasy is so popular right now, and while I do enjoy some of it I could use some variety in my summer reads.

  30. cookie3 says:

    I love mysteries so I’m sure I would enjoy this book. Anyway, you’ve really piqued my interest so now I need to read it.

  31. linnett says:

    this is a new author to me but would love to read this book.

  32. Sara says:

    Sounds like a good read, exciting but not over the top!

  33. Maegan Morin says:

    I want to read it because Megan Abbott is amazing! Loved her other books! T

  34. Anne says:

    Thiis is the kind of book my reen would like a lot!

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