Books for traveling and The Fever by Megan Abbott

Using-your-Kindle-on-a-long-haul-flight-The-Essential-Travel-Gear-for-Long-Haul-Flights-image-by-flicker-user-YosomonoRight now I’m feeling very fortunate. Back in Ohio, my friends are dealing with another day with kids at home after school was cancelled due to frigid temperatures. But we are in Arizona at my parents’ for a week, dealing with sunshine and fresh oranges. I think we picked the right week for our trip.

One of my pre-trip rituals is choosing a book to read while traveling. It has to be good, obviously; engrossing enough to let me forget all the strangers around me but not so good as to let me forget that I have children on the plane with me. Ideally, it will be short enough that I will finish it before the end of the flight–just on the descent. I didn’t finish my book this time on descent, but otherwise I picked the perfect book.

A couple of years ago on our flight out here I listened to The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan and enjoyed it. It was a little eerie because the beginning of the book is about a doomed flight into New York, but I got over it. I didn’t love the book; the brutality of the vamps after reading Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches took the wind out of me and I couldn’t love it. But I re-read it last summer (I believe), and really liked the FX television show based on the books. So, when looking through my books on my Kindle (of which I have many), my thoughts immediately turned to the second book in the series, The Fall.

I’m not going to do a full review, but it is really good. Part of the reason that I enjoyed it so much is that I could put beautiful, HD faces on most of the characters. Because of the television show, the characters are real to me. Rarely do I read a book after a movie (or a series), so this is kind of refreshing. The show so far is mostly the first book, with a couple of scenes taken from the second. I know, when the series does resume and does get to the scenes that I have read, I will be disappointed (they’ll leave out some things I really like and add things that I think aren’t necessary), but I have enjoyed having a clear vision of the characters faces, as well as some of the settings.

I finished the book early this morning, so I’m thinking that the return trip will require book three, The Night Eternal.

And I won’t have to worry about another book until our next trip. I’m already having trouble imagining what would match up.

And now onto a full review of Megan Abbott’s The Fever.

I’m not sure as to which genre this book fits. Much of the book is written from the point-of-view of the protagonist teenages, Deenie and Eli. But then every once and awhile the dad, Tom, would pipe in with some clearly adult insight, making it seem more fitting to adults than teens or young adults.

Any way, it was a quick read, not bad but not great, but a great testament to mob mentality and the power of scare tactics when it comes to our children.  The father in the book had one of the best parenting insights every uttered:

“Sometimes it felt like parenting amounted to a series of questionable decisions, one right after another.” 

Any way, back to the book and its story.

Deenie and her brother are high school students and their father, Tom, a teacher at a high school in Dryden (state unknown), the cloudiest city in the state, bordered by an iffy lake with some kind of bacteria problem. The trouble starts when Deenie’s bestfriend, Lise, succombs to seizures in her first class one day, sending her to the hospital with some unknown virus. A couple of days later her other friend, Gabby, falls to similar issues during a musical performance for the whole school. Rumors fly as to the cause, and level-headed Deenie, her charming and calm brother, and her father all set out to find the cause as the whole school starts to panic when more girls begin to show symptoms of the same infliction.

Is it the lake (in which both girls and Deenie took a dip)? Is it the HPV vaccine? Is it something in the air? Could it be sex? Could it be Deenie herself? No one can seem to provide answers, although Gabby’s new friend, Skye, seems to have a lot of enigmatic answers.

The book isn’t bad, although I figured out the virus about halfway through the book. The main characters, the teenagers, are good kids, but not perfect (which is nice). Tom also has a darkside, one that he’s worked hard to quell since his wife left him and the children. I thought Abbott did a good job with the characters, although I wish the actual story was a little stronger and more ‘mysterious.’

I give the book 3 stars. If it wasn’t for Tom’s brilliance, it probably would be stuck at 2.5, but he saved it for me.


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