Megan Abbott's latest book, The Fever, is the first title I've read from this author.
Abbott starts off her book with a group of girls discussing "The first time, you can't believe how much it hurts." My initial thoughts were okay, teenage girls and sex - this isn't going to hold my attention. But the next chapter changed the way I though the story was going to go - and my interest was piqued.
Deenie's friend Lise has what seems to be some sort of seizure at school. And then so does another girl - and another. The cause isn't clear - is the polluted lake the teens were swimming in? Is it the vaccination the girls have all had? Is it an STD? Is it...?
The cause remains a mystery as the the town struggles to deal with more and more girls getting sick. Except Deenie. Beneath that layer, the teens have their own ideas, struggles and sly machinations going on. Secrets are everywhere.
Abbott tells her tale from multiple viewpoints - that of Deenie, her father Tom (a teacher at the high school) and heartthrob brother Tom. Abbott draws her characters well - these are a pack of teens, not a group of girls. They are backbiting, manipulative and self absorbed, but could they be dangerous as well? Abbot's portrayal of teenagers is by turns frightening and troubling, yet probably very accurate. The addition of an adult perspective from Tom gave the book balance.
Abbott manipulates the reader as well - snippets of information, connections and background are slowly revealed as every character reveals a little more every time its their chapter.
Abbott's writing style is excellent and the premise had me eager to get the to end. I was so very curious - what could the cause be? I admit to being slightly deflated by the end result, but had enough warning in the final chapters as what the endgame would be. And I can see why all my young adult pages at the library love her books! Read an excerpt of The Fever.
Abbott has said that this story was a loose inspiration for The Fever. You can keep up with Megan Abbott on Facebook and on Twitter.
If you think The Fever is a book you'd love to own, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader, courtesy of Little, Brown and Company. Open to continental US only, no PO Boxes please. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends August 30/14.