In an interview with the National Post, Megan Abbott states that “Shakespeare would be writing about high school if he were writing now.” Known as a noir writer, she continues, “high school is the most noir landscape there is.” After reading THE FEVER, yeah, I can see her point. Take for instance Wikipedia’s definition of noir stating dramas that “emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations.” Compare it to the high school experience…it fits.
THE FEVER takes the promiscuous rumors and experimental secrets of a high school and enshrouds it all with a cloak of dark mystery. Seizures and near-death experiences strike a group of girls. No one else is affected: the boys, teachers, or people of the town. Each of the girls are from troubled families; each of them are friends with one another. Some think it is a vaccine’s reaction; some think it is from a contaminated lake. The result comes as a surprise that also offers a critique.
More an accurate exposition of modern high school life versus a fast-moving contagion mystery, Abbott weaves her tale well. Dark topics are explored, as well as the usual expectations of a small-town society. The emotions surrounding coming of age are detailed, including the “sexual debut” (as interestingly described in the book) of its young teenage subjects. Each family has their own histories and secrets, which leads to an interesting mix of story.
This book will appeal to a wide range of readers: mystery, noir, young adult, crime, and literary. The perception is that this will be a quick YA read or light mass-infection book, but it goes much beyond that. You’ll find yourself flipping the pages with interest. The pacing is captivating, save for between the 50 and 70 percent marks (the mystery hovers, versus moving forward with as much detail as at the beginning).
Thank you to Little, Brown and Company for providing me with an electronic review copy of this book for review.
Here are a few sites you may be interested in:
The author’s site:
The National Post interview:
An interview with the Memphis Flyer:
A great article about Megan Abbott and THE FEVER on The Slate:
The book comes out in the United States on June 17, 2014. You can see the book and its other soon-to-be reviews and previews on Amazon: The Fever: A Novel