There is something tempting about an epidemic. It's the rampant nature, the way it seems so uncontrollable and so close to our every day lives. When is the next outbreak going to happen, how will we save ourselves or will a hero (ine) emerge from the madness? So of course Megan Abbott centers her latest novel, called "Fever", around an outbreak that starts in the classroom of a suburban kind of town.
Abbott, with seven other acclaimed books, is no stranger to creating characters that seem to never want to leave you alone. She manages to make you either love them so much that you cannot live without them ("Orange is the New Black" does that) or hate them so only to discover something about yourself. We call this genre contemporary thriller and it seems so much more intense (less cheap of course too) and well crafted than any silly Stephen King novel that he churns and churns out. Abbott has a more New York way of looking at things -- it's fast paced and sexy, less cheese more kick.
We meet a family, the Nash family, where Tom is the single daddi-o (and teacher) of two teens Eli (a sexy girl attractor and hocky star) and Deenie (a goodie two shoes, perhaps). Their lives seem rather normal, not boring, just ordinary until Deenie's best friend has a seizure in class. The effects are devastating, first denial and a desire to close up and hide the truth leading to a fiasco fueled panic. What could possible happen next, and it's worth reading to find out...finally a book that actually holds the grip tight enough for you to get some pleasure out of it. Panic of course spreads, the banal humanity of that drives this story like a flame tearing apart a cornfield.
This novel is darker than her previous novels. As if those were just tasters for the real darkness that is inside her, something more feral and more bone bare. The secondary part of the novel that interests is the relationship side of teenagers -- loyalty, a sense of self and the discovery of who you are, and can't ever be. Few writers can delve into that as well as Abbott. I guess you'll want the fever after just a few pages...
Little, Brown and Company
$21.49 Audio book