Fever (Chemical Garden Series #2)

( 186 )


The second book in The Chemical Garden Trilogy reveals a world as captivating?and as dangerous?as the one Rhine left behind in Wither.

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but they?re still in danger. Outside, they find a world even more disquieting than the one they left behind.
Determined to get to Manhattan and find Rhine?s twin brother, Rowan, the two press forward, amid threats of being captured ...

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Fever (Chemical Garden Series #2)

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The second book in The Chemical Garden Trilogy reveals a world as captivating—and as dangerous—as the one Rhine left behind in Wither.

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but they’re still in danger. Outside, they find a world even more disquieting than the one they left behind.
Determined to get to Manhattan and find Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan, the two press forward, amid threats of being captured again…or worse.
The road they are on is long and perilous—and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and men die at age twenty-five, time is precious. In this sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price—now that she has more to lose than ever.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Rhine's struggles and pain are real, and her story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. I couldn't read this book fast enough."

—Beth Revis, NY Times Bestselling Author of Across the Universe

DeStefano’s rich use of language helps set this dystopian tale apart.

VOYA - Bonnie Kunzel
Rhine escaped from the Florida house where she was being held as an unwilling sister wife at the end of Wither (Simon & Schuster, 2011/VOYA April 2011), the first book in The Chemical Garden Trilogy. In a world where genetic engineering gone awry has doomed all young people to an early death, age twenty-five for boys and twenty for girls, she has less than four years to find her way back home to New York and hopefully reunite with her twin brother. Unfortunately, she and Gabriel, the young servant who helped her escape from sinister Housemaster Vaughn's estate, only make it as far as the Carolinas, where they are snared into service by a drug-addicted old woman who runs a county fair. She plans to sell Rhine to the highest bidder, but when Vaughn shows up with the purchase price, Rhine and Gabriel have already fled. They make it to Philadelphia, but so does Vaughn, threatening to burn their safe house down if Rhine, now sick and possibly dying from terminal fever, does not go with him. Back in Florida, the scientist eradicates the fever he had caused and begins experimenting on Rhine. In her weakened state and with no hope of rescue in sight, Rhine still dreams of escaping and finding her brother. The "perils of Pauline" (damsel in distress) scenario is much darker and more disturbing than its predecessor, but fans will be eager to continue Rhine's journey. Readers new to Rhine's plight should start at book one of this dystopian science fiction adventure. Reviewer: Bonnie Kunzel
Kirkus Reviews
The atmospheric worldbuilding, moral dilemmas and romantic possibilities of Wither (2011) never heat up in this, the second novel in the dystopian Chemical Garden Trilogy. Having recently escaped the compound where she was forced to marry, take on sister wives and ultimately become her evil father-in-law Vaughn's scientific experiment in the name of finding a cure for the virus that kills off men and women at a young age, Rhine, along with former servant and love interest Gabriel, finds herself in trouble again. Plotting another escape from a heartless "First Generation" who runs a brothel out of an abandoned carnival site, continuing to evade Vaughn, picking up a malformed and mute girl and trying to find Rhine's twin brother should be adventurous. And finally being able to communicate freely should bring out the intimacy between Rhine and Gabriel. Instead, the repetitive story, filled with too many similar dream sequences and nearly nonstop illnesses, falls flat, and readers may wonder at times if Rhine and Gabriel even like each other. Their constant running and hiding overshadow the interesting questions about the ethics of science, relationships, sexuality and power raised in the first book. Readers who want to know more about the causes and effects of the mysterious virus will have to wait for the third installment, purposefully set up by another rushed ending. (Dystopian romance. 14 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—This sequel to Wither (S & S, 2011) is set in a dystopian future where all children die in their 20s, which has caused society to crumble. Soon after escaping from Vaughn's home in Florida, Rhine and Gabriel land in the remains of an old amusement park somewhere in the Carolinas. The park is now a scarlet district where young girls are drugged and forced into prostitution, and the gritty scenes are realistic. With some help, they are able to escape and continue on their journey to find Rhine's twin brother, Rowan. When they arrive in New York, they discover that Rowan has burned down their home and is nowhere to be found. Then Rhine becomes sick, three years before the virus is supposed to take her. Gabriel thinks that this has something to do with the medical tests that Vaughn had been doing on her and his son's other brides. They decide to confront him, but before they can leave, he finds them and takes Rhine back to continue running tests on her in his laboratory. The story is unevenly paced and has little secondary character development, and readers unfamiliar with the first novel will be lost, as they won't understand how this virus started or why the society is in chaos.—Erik Carlson, White Plains Public Library, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442409071
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 2/21/2012
  • Series: Chemical Garden Series, #2
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 263,105
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Lauren DeStefano is the author of The Internment Chronicles and the New York Times bestselling Chemical Garden trilogy, which includes Wither, Fever, and Sever. She earned her BA in English with a concentration in creative writing from Albertus Magnus College in Connecticut. Visit her at LaurenDeStefano.com.

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Read an Excerpt


WE RUN, with water in our shoes and the smell of the ocean clinging to our frozen skin.

I laugh, and Gabriel looks at me like I’m crazy, and we’re both out of breath, but I’m able to say, “We made it,” over the sound of distant sirens. Seagulls circle over us impassively. The sun is melting down into the horizon, setting it ablaze. I look back once, long enough to see men pulling our escape boat to shore. They’ll be expecting passengers, but all they’ll find are the empty wrappers from the packaged sweets we ate from the boat owner’s stash. We abandoned ship before we reached the shore, and we felt for each other in the water and held our breath and hurried away from the commotion.

Our footprints emerge from the ocean, like ghosts are roaming the beach. I like that. We are the ghosts of sunken countries. We were once explorers when the world was full, in a past life, and now we’re back from the dead.

We come to a mound of rocks that forms a natural barrier between the beach and the city, and we collapse in its shadows. From where we’re huddled we can hear men shouting commands to one another.

“There must have been a sensor that tripped the alarm when we got close to shore,” I say. I should have known that stealing the boat had been too easy. I’ve set enough traps in my own home to know that people like to protect what’s theirs.

“What happens if they catch us?” Gabriel says.

“They don’t care about us,” I say. “Someone paid a lot of money to make sure that boat is returned to them, I bet.”

My parents used to tell me stories about people who wore uniforms and kept order in the world. I barely believed those stories. How can a few uniforms possibly keep a whole world in order? Now there are only the private detectives who are employed by the wealthy to locate stolen property, and security guards who keep the wives trapped at luxurious parties. And the Gatherers, of course, who patrol the streets for girls to sell.

I collapse against the sand, faceup. Gabriel takes my shivering hand in both of his. “You’re bleeding,” he says.

“Look.” I cant my head skyward. “You can already see the stars coming through.”

He looks; the setting sun lights up his face, making his eyes brighter than I’ve ever seen, but he still looks worried. Growing up in the mansion has left him permanently burdened. “It’s okay,” I tell him, and pull him down beside me. “Just lie with me and look at the sky for a while.”

“You’re bleeding,” he insists. His bottom lip is trembling.

“I’ll live.”

He holds up my hand, enclosed in both of his. Blood is dripping down our wrists in bizarre little river lines. I must have sliced my palm on a rock as we crawled to shore. I roll up my sleeve so that the blood doesn’t ruin the white cabled sweater that Deirdre knitted for me. The yarn is inlaid with diamonds and pearls—the very last of my housewife riches.

Well, those and my wedding ring.

A breeze rolls up from the water, and I realize at once how numb the cold air and wet clothes have made me. We should find someplace to stay, but where? I sit up and take in our surroundings. There’s sand and rocks for several more yards, but beyond that I can see the shadows of buildings. A lone freight truck lumbers down a faraway road, and I think soon it’ll be dark enough for Gatherer vans to start patrolling the area with their lights off. This would be the perfect place for them to hunt; there don’t appear to be any streetlights, and the alleyways between those buildings could be full of scarlet district girls.

Gabriel, of course, is more concerned about the blood. He’s trying to wrap my palm with a piece of seaweed, and the salt is burning the wound. I just need a minute to take this all in, and then I’ll worry about the cut. This time yesterday I was a House Governor’s bride. I had sister wives. At the end of my life, my body would have ended up with the wives who’d died before me, on a rolling cart in my father-in-law’s basement, for him to do only he knows what.

But now there’s the smell of salt, sound of the ocean. There’s a hermit crab making its way up a sand dune. And something else, too. My brother, Rowan, is somewhere out here. And there’s nothing stopping me from getting home to him.

I thought the freedom would excite me, and it does, but there’s terror, too. A steady march of what-ifs making their way through all of my deliciously attainable hopes.

What if he’s not there?

What if something goes wrong?

What if Vaughn finds you?

What if . . .

“What are those lights?” Gabriel asks. I look where he’s pointing and see it too, a giant wheel of lights spinning lazily in the distance.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” I say.

“Well, someone must be over there. Come on.”

He pulls me to my feet and tugs my bleeding hand, but I stop him. “We can’t just go wandering off into lights. You don’t know what’s over there.”

“What’s the plan, then?” he asks.

The plan? The plan was only to escape. Accomplished. And now the plan is to reach my brother, a thought I romanticized over the sullen months of my marriage. He became almost a figment of my imagination, a fantasy, and the thought that I’ll be reunited with him soon makes me light-headed with joy.

I had thought we could at least make it to land dry, and during the daylight, but we ran out of fuel. And we’re losing daylight by the second; it’s not any safer here than anywhere else, and at least there are lights over there, eerie as they may be, spinning like that. “Okay,” I say. “We’ll check it out.”

The impromptu seaweed wrap seems to have staunched the bleeding. It’s so carefully tied that it’s amusing, and Gabriel asks what I’m smiling about as we walk. He is dripping wet and plastered with sand. His normally neat brown hair is in tangles. Yet he still seems to be searching for order, some logical course of action. “It’s going to be okay, you know,” I tell him.

He squeezes my good hand.

The January air is in a fury, kicking up sand and howling through my drenched hair. The streets are full of trash, something rustling in a mound of it, and a single flickering streetlight has come on. Gabriel wraps his arm around me, and I’m not sure which of us he means to comfort, but my stomach is churning with the early comings of fear.

What if a gray van comes lumbering down that dark road?

There are no houses nearby—just a brick building that was maybe once a fire department half a century ago, with broken and boarded windows. And a few other crumbling things that are too dark for me to make out. I could swear that things are moving in the alleys.

“Everything looks so abandoned,” Gabriel says.

“Funny, isn’t it?” I say. “Scientists were so determined to fix us, and when we all started dying, they just left us here to rot, and the world around us too.”

Gabriel makes a face that could be perceived as disdain or pity. He has spent most of his life in a mansion, where he may have been a servant, but at least things were well-constructed, clean, and reasonably safe. If you avoided the basement, that is. This dilapidated world must be a shock.

The circle of light in the distance is surrounded by bizarre music, something hollow and brassy masquerading as cheerful. “Maybe we should go back,” Gabriel says when we get to the chain-link fence surrounding it. Beyond the fence I can see tents illuminated by candlelight.

“Go back to what?” I say. I’m shivering so hard, I can barely get the words out.

Gabriel opens his mouth to speak, but the words are lost by my own scream, because someone is grabbing my arm and pulling me through an opening in the fence.

All I can think is, Not again, not like this, and then my wound is bleeding again and my fist is hurting because I’ve just hit someone. I’m still hitting when Gabriel pulls me away, and we try to run, but we’re being overpowered. More figures are coming out of the tents and grabbing our arms, waists, legs, even my throat. I can feel the skin bunching under my nails, and someone’s skull crashing against mine, and then I’m dizzy, but some otherworldly thing keeps me violently moving in my own defense. Gabriel is yelling my name, telling me to fight, but it doesn’t do any good. We’re being dragged toward that spinning circle of light, where an old woman is laughing, and the music doesn’t stop.

© 2012 Lauren Destefano

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 186 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 186 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    Where do I even begin to tell you how much I love The Chemical Garden series. When I first read Wither, I was in love. I could not put the book down. It was defiantly one of the best books I read this past year. I had to know what happens to Rhine and Gabriel. I had to know if they made it all right. So when I saw that the second book Fever was coming out, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I tried entering contests and giveaways. But I was not winning. :( Then in November of 2011 I was able to attend NCTE in Chicago. There I meant the wonderful people at Simon and Schuster. I was talking to one of the girls at the booth and I asked her if they had arcs of Fever there and if they did when are they going to give them out. And then this wonderful person went under the table and received the one book that I was there to get. I was on cloud nine. My life was complete. You can ask Lynn from Bringing the Epic.....the book did not leave the my side until we left to drive home. Well to make a long story short, I was about to embark on a great journey with Rhine and Gabriel and I could not wait!

    This book starts off exactly where the first book ended. You are with Rhine and Gabriel and they are on the boat sailing up the coast. Rhine and Gabriel are going to Manhattan to find Rhine's brother. They come across many bumps in their journey and forks in the road. And each challenge in my eyes makes them stronger. They are first kidnapped to become part of a show, then they sneak on a truck and take it to West Virginia, then they make it all the way to Manhattan and that is where all the fun begins. That is where you start to understand the title of the book and where this whole story is going.

    Lauren DeStefano is a genius! I thought Wither was good then I read Fever. I am so happy that I was able to read this remarkable book. Fever is everything that you want it to be. Fever is amazing, and breathe taking. It has suspense, sorrow, love, and hate all tied into one. It is everything that you would want in a story and more. I would say this might be book of the year for 2012!

    15 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2012

    I Also Recommend:


    Great Book with great story line. Kept me entertained

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Febuary 2012

    I can't wait for this book to come out!(Feb. 2012) Wither was great I read it in 48 hours. And I really hope the author will give us more excperts.

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    I really hated the ending to the last book. I loved everything e

    I really hated the ending to the last book. I loved everything else, though, oddly enough. This book, because it was centered around Fever's ending, really ticked me off. I have no issues with the writer, and I suppose the writing is good as well, but the context of what she writes made me dislike the book.

    -HOW could Rhine leave with Gabriel? I always felt their relationship was so bad. They are very robotic when it comes to love, and to put it simply, she tried to make it as romantic as possible (the author) and failed miserably, as the two obviously didn't even know what love is.

    -My most irritating thought was that Rhine was so nice to Linden, cuddling with that handsome poor thing, and she leaves him! It disgusted me that she left, for Gabriel of all people! I began to hate Rhine, she was such a coward, and broke Linden's heart twice.

    -More Linden: HOW COULD SHE LEAVE HIM?! HOW?! She led him off into a wonderland, thinking he was truly loved, and she snapped his cord, like a Venus flytrap, back to his spaceship of possible love, leaving him to drift in a space of agony and sadness. And she left him for Gabriel, a servant. I found more love with the two, Rhine and Linden, cuddling than every second she spent with that idiot! I am not going to say which I believe is the most idiotic caracter of them all, and it isn't the bad guy. (Hint: It's Rhine and Gabriel.)

    -Now, I think Rhine is extremely stupid -obviously- and has issues. She doesn't seem real to me, at all! This is a basic structure of how she is:

    Rhine- "Oh, I must leave this cage! Oh no, I can't! Too dangerous. Run away with me Gabriel! We will get hurt, never mind!" I dunno about you, but I find that very annoying.

    -And finally: WHY DID SHE LEAVE LINDEN.... WHHHHYYYYY?!?!?

    I didn't like this book, in short, and her decision near the end made me want to break a hole in the wall and stop a alien invasion, like the Hulk.

    5 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 2, 2011

    Follow Lauren on Facebook!

    Don't forgt to follow Lauren DeStefano on facebook!

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    So good

    The book justt makes want keep on reading! I cannot wait for the next book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2012

    Just as good!

    Its just as good as the first book wither! Just when rhine thought she escaped it all, there was worse to come. Still searching for her brother, she finds that there is something she isnt admitting to herself about him. Maybe she is too emotional, but it is also what makes her strong. Secrets of her brother await her, along with things her long lost sister told gabriel about rhine that she never heard. Trying to be free seems impossible, especially when vaugnn seems to be tracking her too easily, and there are others that want her for her youth, beauty, and unique eyes. Will she ever escape? Will she find her brother? Can she save herself and the ones she loves from the fever?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2012


    This book suffers greatly from the current trilogy trend. The book fails to expand on the story presented (well) in Wither until the last few pages and then ends practically mid-sentence. DeStefano's language remains lyrical if ultimately empty making for a quick, relatively painless read (damned with faint praise). Skip this one or at most borrow from the library and hope for a better resolution. The story is definitely still there to be told. If only the publishing powers didn't insist on telling it in threes.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2012

    I LOVE IT !

    I LOVE IT !

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2012



    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2012

    Better luck next time?

    This wasn't as interesting as the first book. I kept skiping pages trying to find something interesting. The ending was a little rushed. Does Rhine and Gaberial even like each other? The half of the book that i did read was some what good but not great.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2012


    Best book that ive read in a lonug time

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2012

    Let me tell you, Fever is aptly titled. The first part of this b

    Let me tell you, Fever is aptly titled. The first part of this book–until about Chapter 9 or so (out of 27 chapters)–reads like a haze. DeStefano has a very lyrical way of writing, and its infused with a sort of haze all throughout the beginning that gives the book a sense of surrealism. Usually, I hate that kind of thing. Hey, have you seen my review of Shatter Me? Usually lyrical writing–overdone like that–really turns me off. But it works rather well with the surrealism of Rhine’s current situation, somehow. It still doesn’t completely jive with my particular taste in style (part of the reason this isn’t a five star review), but I found myself stuck reading…and reading…and reading. After Chapter 9, the book falls into the saner rhythm, with the lyrical phrasing and such more interspersed–the way Wither was written, basically. There is still a tinge of the “fever,” though, which helps to connect the switch.
    Another thing found in those first few chapters? DeStefano’s other magical ability, to take on a situation that has such a bad stigma to it and make it work for her story. It was polygamy in Wither, and it’s prostitution in Fever–neither of which are small change! You clearly don’t get the feelings of approval or anything, but… Well, it’s hard to describe. Anyone who’s read Wither knows what I mean. (Wait a sec. If you haven’t read Wither, what exactly are you doing here? Go check out my review of the first book and check back in here later! )
    The pace of the entirety of the book is FAST. There are a few moments of peace for the characters, but even then there is hectic undertone that makes you keep reading and reading until the book is all gone and you go WAIT GIVE ME MORE. Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself. Fever was also great about answering a few questions but then opening up a hundred more. (Read “great” with AGH I WANT TO KNOW accents.) I, for one, prefer fast paced books where things are just hitting me one after the other because it’s the only way I can keep my interest in it, and this book delivered.
    I wish I could go into my other reasons for docking a star from this review, but in my efforts to stay spoiler free I must say rather little. Actually, they are a lot like the issues I had with the first book. Most of them came from character development, nominally Rhine and Gabriel, whom I’ve had issues with since Wither. There is an aspect of falseness to their relationship still, though events in Fever suggest this might be intentional. (Though I am still completely befuddled by the whole Rhine-Linden dynamic.) Also, the tempo. Despite being fast paced, I was never utterly and completely invested in characters such as Rhine, yet I found myself liking the characters of Lilac and Maddie (don’t worry, you’ll meet them soon) right away. Thus, when things happened to Rhine, my heart wasn’t pulsing like it should have been. As I said in my review of the first book, perhaps DeStefano’s way with words is one reason the plot never got to my heart rate, but I refuse to put too much blame there because she has a way with words.
    Fans of the first book, of course, just want to know one thing (besides the entire plot and all the spoilers that they can’t get til Fever hits shelves, but you know): Does Fever measure up to Wither? The answer is yes. Totally and absolutely yes. If you were having sequel anxiety, worry not! If you loved the first book, you’ll be heading head over heels for the second one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    “Things will get worse before they get better. A little m

    “Things will get worse before they get better. A little more agony before the fever will break.”

    I believe this quote to be an accurate assessment and theme of this novel. Fever has left me with conflicting thoughts. I wanted to like it, I generally did like it, but I didn’t much like much of what happened in the book. How does this make sense? Well, I’ll try to explain the best I can without many spoilers.

    Fever is a darker, grittier, more troubled look at the dystopian world of The Chemical Garden Trilogy (although I still feel like we know very little about this world). From the very outset, it is unyieldingly bleak. Fever picks up right where Wither left off, with Rhine and Gabriel’s escape. But there is no rest for the wicked, and no chance for happiness between the couple before events take a turn down an even darker path. Rhine’s escape into “freedom” brings with it the dangers of a hopeless world full of immoral individuals, prostitution, drugs, people who sell and buy flesh alike.

    Rhine is left reeling with the consequences of her decisions to bring herself and Gabriel out into this harsh world. However, I feel like she is never touched by the events as much as she should be. Nothing she encounters seems to affect her deeply enough for me to connect with her character. Her obsession with the material luxuries she left behind rubbed me the wrong way. I understand her concerns that she left such a luxorious world for such a gritty one, but every subsequent time she brought up that white sweater, I wanted to slap her silly. It seemed to me like she cared about the things she lost than the people and situations around her.

    Most of the meat of the book happened towards the end, as Fever sets us up for the final installment of the trilogy. When you have about 20 pages left, you’re not sure how it is going to possibly come to a satisfying end. However, the great cliffhanger DeStefano leaves us with leaves me wanting for the last novel.

    Overall, I would recommend this to fans of Wither. It’s a different speed of novel, and not a whole lot actually happens in it (a condition I call “middle book syndrome”), but it is interesting all the same. I think you’ll want to read this installment and the next if for no other reason than to see how it ends.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2012

    Pretty good

    I am a huge fan of wither. It captivated me from the moment i started reading. However fever was a little disapointing. I could only really grasp the basic plotline for most of it probably because she was in a medicated derlium for most of the book. So i have to say she did a great job with that. Still incrediblly eager to find the conclusion in her next book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2012

    Great sequel

    I loved this book! I read it in 5 hours and I highly anticipate the third and final book. The story's plot becomes intricately weaved and much it explained; I could not put it down

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2012


    This book does not disappoint! I could not put it down, it is beautifully written. I cannot wait for the the final book to be released!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2011


    Wither was an AMAZING BOOK!!! I highly reccomend it to anyone thatblikes mystery, twilight, or romance novels. This is the kind of book that i love writing!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2015

    So awesome

    She found rowan omg

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2014



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