The Fever by Megan Abbott

The Fever by Megan Abbott, YA Audiobook Review
The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher and the father of two teens: Eli, a hocky star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school, and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families, and the town s fragile idea of security.

A chilling story about guilt, family secrets, and the lethal power of desire, "The Fever" affirms Megan Abbott s reputation as one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation (Laura Lippman)."

Deenie is a typical teen who lives with her older brother and their dad. Mom, apparently, took off some time ago for greener pastures. Life is filled with the usual teen angst; boy drama, girl drama, sex drama, friend drama, all that fun teen stuff that makes high school so miserable. But Deenie has two best friends and her life could be much worse.

Naturally, this being a book and all, her life does get worse. Her best friend Lise is struck down in the middle of class with something resembling a seizure and is rushed to the ER in dire condition. She does not return to school. There is much speculation. Then Deenie’s other best friend gets sick and then another in her circle and soon, it seems, only Deenie and the boys seems immune. The rumors and hysteria begin. Is it the HPV vaccine the girls have all been forced to get? Is the water tainted or is it . . . haunted (gawd, let it be haunted!)? Could all the teen sex happening behind the bleachers be the cause? Or is Deenie a carrier infecting people willy nilly without a care?!

I’ll never tell.

What follows is less a novel of the plague (which I must say really bummed me out) and more of a tale about what happens to a bunch of teens when they aren’t honest to even those who they claim are closest to them. It reads as real and genuine. The kids here aren’t perfect, that’s for sure, and they make a lot of big and small mistakes that are usually unflattering in some way. The author was not afraid to paint her characters in an unattractive light. I loved that most about the story. But I’ll be honest, almost every little event and thought gets analyzed and is agonized over until it all erupts into a messy emotional stew that results in “The Fever” that consumes the town. You probably know your tolerance for this sort of thing. Mine is nearly non-existent, truth be told, but I must’ve either of been having a few rare tolerant days or this author is just very good at what she does because I was not annoyed with all of this inner and outer turmoil. My bet is on the author.

I liked “The Fever” despite the fact that the “fever” referred to in the title was more about the one that infects and riles up the town into a hysterical frenzy than the actual sickness that starts things off. This wasn’t at all the book I was expecting. I wanted the plague, I wanted death and gore and “bring out your dead” kind of fear. It’s my fault for going in on a vague podcast recommendation. This is mostly about the bitchery and cruelty and the little hurts teens casually inflict on each other and themselves. What is written here kept me hooked, even when things got a little weird here and there (umm girls, if you’ve ever felt the urge to help a friend adjust a crooked tampon, you are either a much better friend than I or you are just a sicko). Reading this made me ever thankful that I will never have to relive my teen years. But I’d be lying if I ignored the fact that the ending was a huge non-event after pages and pages of anticipation. It made sense but it was rather mundane.

I listened to this book as an unabridged audiobook. This story is told from Deenie, Eli and dad’s POV and they each get their own narrator. I have no complaint with Deenie and dad’s narration. Their narrator’s sound age appropriate and add emotion to the work. Eli, however, got stuck with a narrator that didn’t seem to fit the character and mostly read in a monotone. I failed to mention that Eli is the hump and dump kind of guy who can’t make a move without getting hit on by a hot girl. He succumbs often and just as often feels guilty about it afterwards. Woe is his life but I’m getting off track . . . My point is, this narrator made him sound so bland and lifeless that I assumed he only got lucky because he had such a pretty face. How he inspired such rabid lust and devotion was beyond me. I admit to 2x express speeding his narration after I realized this was the way it was going to be and I do not regret it.

Though it wasn’t horrid enough for me, it wasn’t a horrible read and there were enough cruel little betrayals here to keep me happy and keep it real. I’ll give it a 3.5.


  1. You know, I can't remember the name of it, but my husband and I watched a movie a month or so ago which sounded a WHOLE lot like this premise. It wasn't a horrible movie, but I cannot remember the name! That's going to drive me crazy ALL day!

    1. Hmmm, if you remember let me know. I'm always up for a not-completely-horrible movie!

    2. Ok. I finally figured out the movie. It's called Viral and it's a 2016 release. Not great bit but not outstanding either!

    3. Thanks! I'll see if I can find it at Redbox. I love those kinds of movies.

  2. This sounds good, but like you I would want

  3. This does sound pretty good, Laurie, even if there were some things that left you wanting more... I like that there are secrets and a certain dishonesty. Great review!
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    1. Give it a try, if you get a chance. I'd love to read your take on it.

  4. You know, I read this a while ago, and remember absolutely nothing about it! I'm going to have to go read my review. Although, by your review, I'm assuming that I felt the same way. I enjoy when the plagues are more plaguelike as well. But if I remember correctly the synopsis to this reminded me of the Salem Witch Trials, which, psychologically speaking, is kind of fascinating in itself. So, maybe I did like this one... ok, off to go read my own damn review.

    Love your review of this. I definitely know I'm not going to re-read this one.

    1. lol, I am the same way. Once I finish a book and write the review the details (sometimes all of them) fly out of my head.


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