The Fever

The Fever - Megan Abbott 3.5 stars
The small town of Dryden and it's high school start to freak out when, one after the other, teenage girls begin to have violent, seizure-like episodes, throwing everyone into panic. No one can figure out what's happening, and everyone is speculating on the cause, with guesses ranging from bad school building conditions to mutant STD's.
"You spend a long time waiting for life to start–the past year or two filled with all these firsts, everything new and terrifying and significant–and then it does start and you realize it isn't what you'd expected, or asked for."

Megan Abbott has been one of my favorite author discoveries this year and is once again brilliant here, paralleling the growing pains of teenage girls with a contagious outbreak! And the mystery of what is causing it all is genuinely intriguing, all the way up to the end. And the build-up of the paranoia, fear, and suspicion among the residents of the town and the students and faculty at the school is handled very well.

My main gripe is that I felt that some of the characterization was a bit weak, especially amongst the main girls, like Deenie, Gabby, and Skye. I never really connected with the soft-spoken main character Deenie, who seems to be at the center of it all because the seizures are popping up amongst her circle of friends. And I couldn't really gather why her best friend Gabby was such a popular girl. I also could never really figure out why Skye (who seemed to be such a strong, independent girl that pushed to buck the high school social system) would follow the popular girl around all day, as her entourage, attached to her hip.

But there are some characters that are really well-drawn and interesting to read about, like Deenie's brother Eli, who is so handsome the girls fall all over him, but he seems oblivious to the attention, and still doubtful of his understanding of the female kind. This understanding diminishes even more as he witnesses the affliction that's making it's way amongst the girls.

Although not as great as some of Abbott's other work, there is still lots of awesome stuff here and is definitely a page-turning mystery. Recommended!