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Dor Does Books

Oh, hai! I read books, then I write down what I think of them. 



That was ... odd - The Fever by Megan Abbott (ARC)

The Fever - Megan Abbott

[This book was provided to me for no monies by the kind people at Little, Brown, facilitated in this act of goodness by NetGalley.]


When I say I like something, it doesn't mean it's something good and positive. I liked Umbridge and the Dementors in Harry Potter, for instance. Dark things, the type of thing you don't say aloud - and for lots of reasons: because it may shock, may show you up as somebody other than you are, may be unable to be made unsaid, may be made true by the saying of it - appeal to me and I think it's because they tend to stand out. I like things which are completely of themselves.


Which is why I liked Megan Abbott's The End of Everything. It has a nastiness to it, an unpleasantness, and I liked that so much because it came from a place of emotional honesty to which I can relate. I'm sure other authors must have pulled the same trick, but Abbott's is the only one I've read.


The Fever, Abbott's new novel which is out in June, has a similar feel to it but in this instance it's not a good thing. The problem is the POV. What feels authentic in first becomes self-obsessed and narcissistic in this distant-feeling third. It cuts quickly at times between its three characters - Deenie, her brother Eli, and their father Tom - but never gives them enough distinction. In a book like this, I'd hope the switches could have given me greater insight into the other characters, but they didn't. It feels lazy at times, particularly Tom. That said, I did like the writing, despite the flaws and the - at times - stock characters. 


Then there is the story itself which is really quite bizarre. It was always going to be a hard sell on me because it involves an entire town having their brains replaced with the Daily Fail's science correspondent's. Details, not spoilers here -> 

It's about the HPV Vaccine - girl collapses, HPV Vaccine is blamed. Entire town becomes hysterical. 

(show spoiler)


It is a pretty good jumping off point for *a* story, but here ends up leaning too heavily on it. There are good parts, good ideas creepily realised, but the ultimate resolution is a huge let down. Not specific spoiler, but an opinion the book will work better without hearing ->

So many of the threads peter out into nothing and the cumulative effect is of a book which is one long red herring. If the final payoff had been clever or original it could be forgiven, but it's not.

(show spoiler)


It's a difficult one for me to score because it while was deeply flawed in terms of plot, I did like the writing and when I did engage with the characters, I engaged. I'm going to give it 3 stars because it's a decent read if you like the style (which I do), but if you don't I can't see anything here to recommend it. I will be looking out for further books by this author.


I'll also mention that the 14-18 year-old me would have loved it because it has drama but isn't melodramatic. 32-year-old me couldn't get past the self-obsession.