Author: Lauren DeStefano. Release date: 2012. Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9781442409071.
Personal thoughts: I absolutely loved Wither so I was super excited to get my hands on Fever! I think that, overall, Fever is a successful follow-up to the first novel, but I do have to say that I did enjoy Wither quite a bit more. The second novel is very dark, with very little levity even in the relationship between Gabriel and Rhine. I missed the luxury of the mansion and Rhine’s relationship with her sister-wives. There were some interesting new elements in Fever, however, that I found interesting, particularly Lilac and her relationship with her daughter, Maddie. I’m still a huge fan of this series and am looking forward to the third novel, though not with quite the same fervor as when I finished Wither.
Plot summary: On the run after escaping the clutches of Housemaster Vaughan, Rhine and Gabriel soon discover that the outside world is far more dangerous than they ever could have imagined. Determined to return to Manhattan and reunite with her brother, Rhine and Gabriel are desperately seeking a way to travel from the Ashby mansion, and out of Housemaster Vaughan’s area of influence, in Florida, all the way up the coast to New York. After arriving in South Carolina, Rhine and Gabriel stumble upon a carnival-themed bordello, run by the ruthless Madame Soleski. Intrigued by Rhine’s beauty, Madame forces the pair to remain in her camp, surrounded by the young girls who draw business to the carnival, and the bodyguards who keep anyone from escaping. There, Rhine and Gabriel meet Lilac, one of Madame’s most intelligent girls, and her daughter Maddie, a malformed but observant little girl. Unwilling to trade the captivity of the Ashby mansion for that of Madame’s carnival, Rhine, Gabriel and Lilac plot a way to escape Madame’s clutches, and achieve their freedom once and for all.
Review: This sequel to the best-selling novel, Wither, continues the Chemical Garden Trilogy as Rhine and Gabriel traverse the bleak landscape in author Lauren DeStefano’s dystopian America of the not-too-distant future. Fans of Wither will find that, although mention is made of characters from the previous novel, Fever is very different from the first installment in the trilogy. Gone are the ins-and-outs of life in the Ashby mansion, Rhine’s relationship with her sister wives, feelings for her husband, Linden, and budding romance for servant, Gabriel. Replacing them are the stark realities of prostitution, murder, and disease that existed all along outside the confines of Rhine’s life in the mansion. Fever delves much more into the nitty-gritty than Wither, and certain sides of various characters introduced in the first novel are revealed. The result is a whole new set of circumstances, far more intense than Rhine’s desire to simply escape her marriage to Linden and return to her brother. This makes Fever a successful, though slightly bleak, follow-up to the success of DeStefano’s first novel. The third and final installment in the Chemical Garden Trilogy is set to be released in 2013.
Reading level: Grade 8+
Similar titles: Wither by Lauren DeStefano, Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien, Divergent by Veronica Roth.
Themes: Dystopian, polygamy, disease, prostitution, captivity, love.
Awards/Reviews: Sequel to best-selling novel.
Series Information: Second installment in The Chemical Garden trilogy. First installment, Wither released in 2011. Third installment to be released in 2013.
- Why do you think that Madame was so intrigued with Rhine?
- Do you think that Gabriel had any regrets about leaving with Rhine? Why or why not?
- Do you think Rhine had any regrets about leaving the Ashby mansion?
- Why do you think Maddie wouldn’t speak?
- Which novel did you like more: Wither or Fever? Why?
- What would you like to see happen in the third and final novel in this trilogy?