A Caged Bird Brought to Life | Review of ‘Fever’ (The Chemical Garden, #2)

By: Cynthia Ayala

Fever by Lauren DeStefano:
Simon Shuster Children’s Publishing

Fever, by Lauren DeStefano, is the second novel in her Chemical Garden series published by Simon Shuster Children’s Publishing. Released on February 21, 2012, the novel follows Rhine and Gabrielle as they escape the clutches of the Housemaster Vaughn and seek out their freedom a broken world. However, a sudden illness has caught her off guard, pushing her back to the one place she would like to avoid.

Living within the realm of dystopic fiction, DeStefano gave the young adult genre something beautiful yet broken at the same time, incorporating romance to spin a tale of hope and the price of freedom.

Following Rhine, author DeStefano takes readers on a journey of the world as she goes on the search for her home, for her brother, back home in dystopic New York. However, along the voyage, DeStefano delves into the broken beauty of the world. In Wither, she (DeStefano) hints at the sadness of a world destroyed by genetic engineering, pollution, and war. The imagery and detail that DeStefano puts into painting this world. Everything is clouded, shrouded in this film of gray, presenting a dark and dreary world, lifeless, where even the trees look bleak. The novel lives within a realm that makes reading it heartbreaking. However, the constant glimmer of hope, love and devotion it makes everything beautiful. However, as the beauty fades, so does the hope.

Those are the underlining motifs of the story; that faith, love and devotion keep things alive and beautiful. The concept executed well by the imagery and the narrative. The detail builds the story and raises the deep emotions of the reader. This book is a dark tale, a continued spin on The Handmaiden’s Tale, of a girl forced into a marriage because the human race is dying. Taken from her by form of the wedding band, she becomes a caged bird, imprisoned by societal standards that destroy hope and love, even after she escapes. Despite that though, Rhine continues to shine with hope, with her belief that everything is going to be okay. Gabrielle and Rhine are two characters that are very devoted to one another, and on his own, Gabrielle does not shine, in fact, he just reads like a name on a page. However, when put together with Rhine, readers see the devotion he has with her character, and it reads off the pages, it makes their love beautiful, and it makes their characters come alive.

Throughout the story, DeStefano shows that everyone is entranced by Rhine’s external beauty and heterochromia, but it is the strength and hope that makes her such a captivating character. Even when her external beauty begins to deteriorate, her strength remains, even as her confidence begins to deteriorate, the love and devotion she has towards other characters. Rhine is an excellent character with an outspoken narrative that makes her charismatic, making it easy for the reader to connect with both her and the text,

Fever is a slow story with both beautiful and heartbreaking detail that highlights the damage of the land while juxtaposing it with the beauty of youth. (★★★☆☆ | B)

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