Fever (The Chemical Gardens Trilogy #2)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Escaping the mansion was just the beginning.
Getting as far as their legs can take them, Rhine and Gabriel are finally free. More dangers lurk as they make their way to Manhattan, Rhine’s home, to find her brother. With Gabriel at her side, she’s more determined than ever. It’s never felt so close. She has to be strong, both for herself and everyone else.
With Gatherers close to recapturing her and other people willing to sell her to the highest bidder, she has to do things she never though she was capable of. But when she’s struck with an ill fever, she has to rely on others to help take care of her and soon enough she isn’t sure she’ll live long enough to see her brother again or to see freedom.
The start of life is always brutal, isn’t it? We’re born fighting.
This book really kept up well with its predecessor: Wither. The story expanded into something even more horrifyingly beautiful. DeStefano is still using that talent she has with description to pull me in. She brings so much realism with its phenomenal detail to her characters surroundings and how she incorporates the five senses.
While on the run, something much more sinister than the virus is digging into Rhine’s bones. She doesn’t like to be weak, but can’t stop this illness that has her breaking out into a fever. Gabriel, at her side, helps her as best as he can, but wonders if they should just return to the mansion so she can receive the top medical care in the country. Rhine refuses, though secretly she shares the same thought. How can she find her twin brother in this state? Somehow. She’s giving everything she’s got.
Finally, we are out of the mansion and into the ashy world. Rhine and Gabriel end up in a lot of new places as they get farther and farther away, but the places that are focused on the most is a carnival where Rhine and Gabriel are forced into yet another form of slavery and an orphanage that becomes a kind of home. Each place is a wonder, but they’re also trapping prisons just like the mansion. I was so taken with the facade of lights and splendor in the carnival and the orphanage really showed just how hard the world is outside of wealth. It’s dark and dismal and much like a graveyard. Very reminiscent of Silent Hill in my opinion; all ashy. Each new place shows how disconnected from the wealth that Rhine had been kidnapped into and Gabriel had become accustomed to.
There was so much growth for Rhine and Gabriel. Rhine really pushed her limits to new places. Even when she broke down with an indescribable illness she strives to figure out how to help her friends and worries about them, that she’s possibly destroyed their lives in the process of trying to save herself. She is no pampered princess. Meanwhile, Gabriel, who escaped the mansion with her, has totally stepped up! I’m so surprised. He still so sweet and his faith in her is never faltering, but there were moments when he threw a damn good punch. As Rhine is protective of him so is he over her. More so, if you recall me making a curious wonder about love being introduced, I was right. It’s so gradual and subtle, which I really REALLY love. These two are making me melt.
Other characters? Not so much. Linden and Cecily do make their return which made me squirm in my seat, but so does Vaughn. Then there’s the slimy Madame who sells her girls for whatever she can get. A real high class woman there. Not. There are no shortage of villains. There’s also no shortage of heroes for Rhine and Gabriel. There are a few people who help them on their journey and it renews that hope for Rhine that not everyone is an evil Judge Doom (Watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit if you haven’t. Judge Doom is super fucking creepy.).
Still on this ride from Rhine’s up close and personal POV, this book took me much further into Rhine’s head and everything she reflected back on in order to make future decisions. Seeing the gears twist and grind in her head was really heavy. This was beyond simple survival. Even more was when she hallucinated and dreamed while ill. It was horrifying and I felt so much for her. She is one strong cookie.
With all of that in mind, would I recommend this book? Yes. It’s horrifyingly haunting and an utter fantasy of a dark world with only a single twinkle of hope that lies within on sixteen year old girl. I was immersed more and more as I read. And I will say that there are plot twists and cliffhangers. They will whip you good.
“Ah, love. That’s what the world has lost. There’s no more love, only the illusion of it.” (Madame to Rhine, p.15)
“There are so many of us, so many girls. The world wants us for our wombs or our bodies, or it doesn’t want us at all.” (Rhine, p. 39)
“What does it feel like to know exactly when you’ll die?” (Greg to Rhine, p. 163)
More to come soon…
P.S. Song today? On Your Side by Thriving Ivory.
Thoughts? Tell me in the comment section below.