Fever, the second novel in Lauren DeStefano’s The Chemical Garden Trilogy, picks up right where Wither left off.

Rhine and Gabriel have managed to escape from the mansion, and from Housemaster Vaughn. When they are free, in the actual world, it becomes clear that Rhine has somewhat romanticized her memories. The world is either dead or dying, much like its young occupants. There is no order. Fate delivers Rhine and Gabriel to a carnival. Really, it’s just a façade of a carnival, a front for prostitution. An older, first-generation woman runs things, and she has a special place for Rhine in her act.

Eventually, Rhine and Gabriel escape, just as Housemaster Vaughn arrives on the scene, taking with them Maddie, a malformed child of one of the girls. Still looking for her twin brother Rowan, they make their way to Manhattan, only to find that home is not as she remembered it and Rowan is nowhere to be found. Out of other options, they seek out a name and address that has been inscribed in an old children’s book that Maddie has saved from her previous life at the carnival. This leads them to an orphanage run by Maddie’s grandmother.

All the while, Rhine becomes sicker and sicker. She feels as if she is succumbing to the terminal virus, but something seems off about it, much as the death of her sister-wife Jenna seemed to be. As at the carnival, Vaughn finds her, stealing her during the middle of the night, threatening to burn the orphanage down and all its occupants with it, if she won’t come with him. Leaving Gabriel and Maddie, she returns to the mansion.

She does get a few answers from Vaughn, but she is shut away in the basement, being used as a lab rat. Only when things get too extreme does her husband, Linden, intervene. He takes her to a hospital, and it is while she is here that she finds a clue as to how to find her brother. But she is sick, and the clock to her 20th birthday and imminent death is continuing to tick.

I did enjoy this book, but I found it lacking a bit in emotional depth. I just didn’t feel like I cared about the characters as much as I wanted to. Maybe this is because the last books I read just went so far above this, that it’s hard for anything to compete. However, I still liked the story, and I will read the third and final book in the series whenever it comes out. I do care about Rhine and Gabriel enough to find out what actually happens to them.


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