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review 2018-06-07 04:33
The Fever by Megan Abbott - Mass Hysteria is a real problem in the internet age
The Fever: A Novel - Megan Abbott

At one point I considered throwing this a la Dorothy Parker. It seemed like it was heading to be way more misogynistic than it eventually turned out to be. It also turned out to be less of a thriller than it first seemed. I suppose if I'm forced to choose, I'd rather a modern woman write an unimpressive book than a misogynistic one, so OK. Onward --

 

 

I wanted to read something by Megan Abbott, and this was on Kindle sale. Turns out to be a bad way to pick an author's book. I'll give her another try with a more highly praised book. I didn't look at reviews beyond goodreads until after I was halfway through. The NYTimes really beat her up on this one, and I think they were unfair. They seem to think she just wants to tell a morality tale about staying away from sex IF you're a girl. Here's a quote or two:

 

this book’s punitive view of female sexuality is worth noting for its kinship with nonfiction writers like Caitlin Flanagan, Wendy Shalit and Laura Sessions Stepp, who argue that young women should protect themselves from the complications of sex by treating their sexuality as merely a minor component of monogamy. 

 

perhaps the difficulty many young women have in navigating their sexual choices stems in part from the ­pervasive depiction of lustful girls as hysterical and self-destructive, and ­lustful boys as simply normal; the assumption that sexual responsibility is solely up to women; and the confusing portrayals of vulnerability in girls as both dangerous (“a havoc upon his sweet daughter’s small, graceful little body”) and sexy (“She kept laughing and covering her face,” a boy recalls of the beautiful Lise. “She was so . . . young”), while vulnerability in boys is rarely acknowledged at all.

 

The problem with the Times' take is that this story REALLY happened. Not once, but many times and as the internet has grown in influence and availability, we're seeing more and more of these "outbreaks" of what can only be called female hysteria (technically MPI or Mass Psychogenic Illness.) It doesn't seem to affect boys and men nearly as much as it does adolescent girls. There are some important reasons (all are society-based and stem from gender expectations and conformity. MPI is "caused" by stress, and they aren't faking - these are real symptoms and it's scary. It "spreads" by one person seeing another getting sick, then they "get sick" too and on it goes. As the internet offers teens a ton of ways to communicate and share without anyone knowing, this is becoming more - not less - prevalent.)

 

So, I'd already read this story -- in the form of the multitude of breathless news reports from the 2012 NY events on which this book is based, followed and augmented by medical assessments and papers on that and similar 2002, 2001, 1998, 1992... events (and countless other similar events dating back to the Salem Witch Trials -- mass hysteria ain't nuttin new. BTW, those outbreaks are just the ones I remember.)

 

So, now onto the book and it's very connected. It is the same story with a crime tossed in for good measure.

"Eli couldn't figure out what it all meant, but he knew it meant something."

Dumb character alert! Eli may be the sharpest knife in this drawer, and that's his level of insight and observation.

 

With the addition of one little crime (OK, a bad crime, but it got only a couple paragraphs) that went entirely unexplained or examined, this was another female writer who wrote flat female characters with pale beautiful inner thighs and fragile bodies, but their brains can't hold more than one idea at a time. THANK GOD for the strong silent brother and the father full of vindictive divorce angst who can hold it in while playing father of the year and worrying about his fragile and small girl while seemingly having nothing at all to do with his son except when his daughter demands they take a ride. Oh, and there's a "slutty" mother who I'm pretty sure only exists to scream one of the silliest lines ever about "men and your sperm" through a phone. The whole book was Troy NY played out again in novel form. Instead of writing an ending, we got a page of "news report" that didn't explain anything beyond "a crime took place" - oh, and everyone is now fine.

 

Megan Abbott wrote a very good general interest piece for the Huffington Post on the Troy MPI outbreak, so I'm absolutely sure I'd have preferred to read a nonfiction account that didn't involve stick figure characters and tricks that even *I* know not to use in a thriller: 

It's all a case of mistaken identity that causes a jealous teenaged girl to poison another teenaged girl, then they all start dropping

(spoiler show)

 - that's it, but we get it only from a pagelong "news report." There is nothing much that follows that. Apparently they all just go back to the way things were previously (the book ends, so I don't know.) It would have been nice to read about how on earth this town of panicked kids with insanely panicked parents ended up this way or got back to normal, but much like the mass media - once the crazy stops, nobody waits around to see about the aftermath.

 

I was very disappointed for more than one reason, but I am actively looking for suggestions about Megan Abbott's books that aren't this one.

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review 2018-02-23 23:05
Fever Pitch (Love Lessons Book 2) by Heidi Cullinan 4 Star Review
Fever Pitch: Love Lessons, Book 2 - Heidi Cullinan,Iggy Toma

Sometimes you have to play love by ear.

Aaron Seavers is a pathetic mess, and he knows it. He lives in terror of incurring his father’s wrath and disappointing his mother, and he can’t stop dithering about where to go to college—with fall term only weeks away. Ditched by a friend at a miserable summer farewell party, all he can do is get drunk in the laundry room and regret he was ever born. Until a geeky-cute classmate lifts his spirits, leaving him confident of two things: his sexual orientation, and where he’s headed to school.

Giles Mulder can’t wait to get the hell out of Oak Grove, Minnesota, and off to college, where he plans to play his violin and figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. But when Aaron appears on campus, memories of hometown hazing threaten what he’d hoped would be his haven. As the semester wears on, their attraction crescendos from double-cautious to a rich, swelling chord. But if more than one set of controlling parents have their way, the music of their love could come to a shattering end. 

 

Review

 

So good! Heidi Cullinan is taking all my money.

 

Giles and Aaron are young and finding themselves. The stumble a great deal. Aaron very shy and lonely though on the outside he doesn't look it. Giles is very brave with everything but his heart.

 

They don't take enough risks with each other at first but as they grow into themselves they grown into friendship and a deep abiding love.

 

This is a really grand romance.

 

The whole cast is wonderful.

 

Great series. Great book.

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review 2018-01-13 14:01
Dragon Fever: A Dark Kings Novella - Donna Grant

Asher is sent to Paris to the annual World Whiskey Conversation instead of Con. Rachel is sent in to investigate him and write an article revealing all of their secrets to the world. What neither of them suspects is that the moment they meet sparks fly and a fever rises between the two of them. When it is revealed that Ulrik sent Rachel, Asher is disappointed in yet another human, but he turns the tables on her and he reveals his past and in so doing wins her trust and loyalty. Of course, he then has to rescue her from Ulrik, which gives us a spectacular surprise about how far Ulrik has come with his magic. Typical goodness. Great passion. Though a novella, I didn’t mind the rushed romance. I like coming back to the Dragon Kings again and again. Love me some DG!!

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review 2017-11-13 18:22
Fever
Fever - Lauren DeStefano

Warning: There will be spoilers in this review for the first book in the series, Wither.

Gabriel and Rhine have escaped and they are on the run, trying to make it back to Manhattan in search of her twin brother when they are captured by the ring-mistress of a carnival of prostitution. Once again Rhine finds herself in a compromising situation, and her plan of action is to simply go along with everything, gain Madame's trust and wait for the perfect opportunity to escape. This was all too reminiscent of book 1.

I found myself cringing by Rhine's actions throughout this book. The only thing she seemed to excel at, was getting caught. Each time she was caught by someone sinister, and this happens multiple times, she does not put up much of a fight. In fact, not only does she not attempt to flee, at one point she even goes willingly. I was in disbelief.

Rhine is still wearing Linden's wedding ring. I kept wondering why she hadn't removed it, and why Gabriel didn't seem to notice or care. Why would she want to keep a reminder of the terrible situation she escaped from? That was one of the many reasons Gabriel and Rhine's relationship fell flat to me. I saw no connection, no passion. I also felt that Rhine and Gabriel spent most of the book drugged up, sleeping or hallucinating which caused the story to plod along at a snail's pace. 
 
I had a hard time liking the characters (new and old) this time around. As with the last book, I enjoyed DeStefano's writing style, and I am in no way averse to giving her other series a try. I'm afraid this particular series simply isn't for me.
 
-SW
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review 2017-11-01 17:48
I've got a fever, a fever for more Velvet! :/
Fever - Elizabeth Lowell

Unfortunately it had taken Rye two weeks to convince Edward McCall II that his son would not, repeat not, marry some useless Houston belle just to get his hands on the Angus bull.

 

Oh '80s books, never change.

 

"Little girl, you've got a lot to learn," he muttered under his breath. "And you've come to just the man who can teach you."

 

Umm, maybe do.

 

This one obviously had some dated problems and the hero clung to his "woman only want me for my money" bitterness for far too long. Lisa's actions didn't warrant it and it made that drama feel forced.

 

Even with those issues though, I really enjoyed this one. It scoots along pretty quickly and the dry sense of humor was delightful. I also want to claim Lisa as my buddy if there is ever an apocalypse, girl can get it done. Her background makes her sweet innocence believable and not icky and we do get glimpses of her backbone; I want a novella of these two from down the road where Lisa puts Rye even more in his place.

 

Rye needed to grovel just a bit more but the emotion he shows at the end (he cries!) gave an unexpected heartwarming ending. This takes place on a cattle ranch and I enjoyed the western touches and the feeling of being transported to a different place. You'll have to gird your loins for the term "Velvet Fever" to be used incessantly but hey, who couldn't use another euphemism for sex in their back pocket.

 

Bottom line, this was a little bit of a gem and if you ever see it at a garage sale or used book store, scoop it up.

 

"I've been missing you all my life and didn't even know it."

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