Second Look: Fever (Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 2) by Lauren DeStefano

In an exciting turn of events, I was flabbergasted to learn that I won an advanced reader copy (ARC) of Fever by Lauren DeStefano!

You have to understand, I never win ANYTHING. I blame a series of losses in elementary school to my current (and possibly lifelong) run of bad luck. So, of course, when I received the email notifying me of my good fortune I nearly passed out from excitement.

SPOILER WARNING: If you have not read Wither (book 1 in the Chemical Garden Trilogy), you will encounter some spoilers from book 1 in this review. I apologize, but it’s simply unavoidable. I hereby solemnly swear not to reveal any spoilers from Fever. That’s not how I roll. That being said… on with the review!

The Story: Rhine and Gabriel have successfully escaped the mansion and Rhine’s villainous father-in-law, Housemaster Vaughn. However, as they make their way to Manhattan to track down Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan, Vaughn is looking for Rhine and will stop at nothing to bring her back. After they stumble into a brothel run by a psychotic first generation, they learn what life is like in the seedy scarlet districts, which neither of them will ever forget. From there, they’re led to an orphanage in New York which offers them a safe place to stay while Rhine searches for Rowan. Rhine wonders if she ever truly was out of Vaughn’s clutches, however, when she begins to exhibit violent symptoms of the life-ending virus a year early just like her sister-wife Jenna did.

The Low Down: When I read a planned trilogy, I always fear for Book 2. It seems that the second book only exists to get the reader to the epic conclusion in Book 3 (see: Catching Fire). Also, since I enjoyed Wither so much, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to potentially ruin it by continuing the series (see: Twilight). Thankfully, the Chemical Garden Trilogy is NOT one of those series. The plot of Fever has enough meat to stand on it’s own, and artfully continues the story the began in Wither. As for the storyline, it came together brilliantly. The ups and downs R & G experienced kept me on my toes, as I never knew who could be trusted. The conclusion was intense and satisfying and kept me reading well into the wee hours of the morning.

I only have two minor complains about Fever: 1) I found the parts in the brothel disturbing (which is actually a compliment to DeStefano’s writing) so the first 1/3 was tough for me to get through, and 2) I wasn’t totally feeling Rhine and Gabriel’s relationship. I love that they can finally show how much they care about each other, but it seemed forced and rushed to me. Despite that, R & G’s devotion to each other is apparent, and they way they stick together through everything is admirable and touching.

The thing that makes the story sing, however, is DeStefano’s writing style, plain and simple. She is a brilliant writer with a true gift for words and storytelling. I was absolutely entranced by her writing. Her descriptions are not lengthy, but still manage to speak volumes (for example: “There’s an empty can in the corner of the room, collecting drips from a blackened patch in the ceiling. One drop, then another, pieces of thoughts that never pool into anything substantial.”)

The Bottom Line: DeStefano has not failed me yet and her writing soars once again. The beginning of Fever was a little rough, but not enough to make me want to stop. It’s not just a bridge to book 3, and it definitely left me eager to read the next (and last) book in the series.

OFFICIAL RATING: 8/10

Fever will be released on February 21, 2012.

FTC Disclosure: I received my ARC of Fever by Lauren DeStefano for free from Goodreads First Reads. I was not given any form of payment or endorsement, nor was I kidnapped and held at gunpoint. Click here if you’d like to enter to win free books through Goodreads First Reads!

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2 thoughts on “Second Look: Fever (Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 2) by Lauren DeStefano

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