Summary: Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.
Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago – surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.
The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous – and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion…by any means necessary.
In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price – now that she has more to lose than ever.
I know a lot of readers were turned off by the story Lauren crafted in her first novel, Wither, and while I agreed with their points, I was still sucked in. She has this amazing ability to draw you into this world she’s created and sit you right down in the middle of it. Her way with words and imagery really gets me. And I have to be honest when I say that this series has sucked me into its clutches.
I felt it with Wither – no matter how badly I wanted to run Linden over with my car (and I freakin’ love my car) – and it didn’t change for me in Fever. Some sequels peter out (for lack of a better term), and they don’t hold my interest. They sometimes suffer the dreaded second-book-curse… But there’s something about this story – these characters – that I have to see through to the end, even if I don’t always like how bumpy the road is while getting there.
And I will admit, there are parts I didn’t like.
As an author myself, I absolutely hate when readers don’t like my characters – especially because I know why they are the way they are and that they need to grow, and learn, and mature and face conflict for there to actually be a story. But I understand that sometimes it’s unavoidable. Sometimes characters are created specifically for the purpose of being hated.
Although, this time around, the one I found myself wanting to throttle wasn’t the intended bad guy. It was Rhine herself.
If you read the first book, you know this one begins right where that one left off. She’s free. She’s free and she’s not alone. She has Gabriel. This girl doesn’t have much, but she’s got a fresh start and possibilities that didn’t exist before… and she has a shot at real love.
But damn if this girl doesn’t have the worst luck in the world.
First, she loses her parents in an explosion. Then she loses her twin brother and gets gathered only to end up in a madman’s home, married to a man she doesn’t love, and thrust into a life she doesn’t want.
And I admired her for being quietly-strong in the first novel – for essentially doing what she needed to do in order to escape. Even though it made me sick that she’d been put there, I respected her for it. I had hoped the trend would continue here, that she would finally bloom into that badass flower I thought existed under the surface…
(This is the point where I tell you to stop reading if you don’t want to be spoiled)
But I didn’t see it happen. So many times she came close only to shrink under the pressure.
Maybe that’s not entirely her fault. Remember what I said up there about bad luck? Yeah, this girl has it like a boss.
I’m not sure whether it’s unbelievably unbelievable that she gets free only to end up in the clutches of another situation that holds her captive, or if it’s just ridiculous. But that’s exactly what happens. She’s literally locked up in a cage, metaphorically standing beneath the strings of a madwoman who is telling her which way to go, how to dress and when to sleep.
Just like with Vaughn and being stuck in that house with Linden and Cecily and Jenna, she was imprisoned in a carnival of young girls selling their bodies for money.
And I just wanted her to fight back! I wanted her to stand up and take charge and kick some ass.
I wasn’t prepared for her to fall back into her pattern of quiet acceptance and just let things happen to her. I wasn’t prepared for her to question leaving, question bringing Gabriel with her. I wanted her to know it was the right thing and to be sure about her decision and push forward and find Rowan and live happily ever after with Gabriel and her brother while she still could.
Characters have flaws, though. To me, that’s Rhine’s biggest. Perhaps it was intended though… maybe we don’t know yet that her behavior is all part of the Fever… (see what I did there?) Or maybe it’s not. I’m holding off judgment until I read the next book.
There were things I did love about the book, though. The introduction of new characters, like Lilac and Jared and Silas and Claire. But especially Maddie. The return of old characters, like Cecily and Deirdre. And Gabriel of course; I enjoyed getting to see more of his character shine through. Getting to see how much he truly cares for Rhine and how he would do anything to protect her.
I even enjoyed the return of Linden. *ducks and waits for lightning to strike her down*
I’ve always felt he’s as imprisoned as Rhine and her sister-wives were, and if possible, even more oblivious to the things going on around him. I have hope for him as much as I do Rhine and all the other characters, that he’ll finally wake up and see what’s been happening. That he’ll take charge, join forces with his ‘wives’ and make things right.
So in closing, I’ll say this: I’m most definitely looking forward to the next book. I want to see some of the fire that ignited inside Rhine during the final pages of this come to fruition, and I’d love for every one of these characters to get what they deserve.
We have an ARC of Fever for one of you lovely readers to win! All it takes is a comment on this post to enter!
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