Read Ashley's review of "Wither" here.
In Lauren DeStefano's "Wither," readers were introduced to Rhine Ellery, who was captured and made to marry Linden Ashby. They live in a world where a genetic disease causes women to die at age 20 and men at age 25, so girls like Rhine are kidnapped and forced into marriage to keep the population alive.
"Wither" is the first book in the "Chemical Gardens" trilogy. At the end of it, Rhine and her friend/love interest, Gabriel, ran away from Ashby Mansion. In the sequel, "Fever," they are headed to Rhine's hometown of Manhattan, in search of her twin brother, Rowan.
Their freedom is short-lived, however, as they are captured by Madame Soleski, a woman who sells girls and uses boys as bodyguards at a broken-down carnival in South Carolina. Here, some new characters are introduced, such as Lilac and Maddie, Lilac's deformed and fairly intelligent child.
The acts performed in the carnival reveal how truly dark the world has become. When Rhine discovers the plans that Madame has for her, she escapes the carnival with Gabriel and Maddie, but not Lilac. They travel north to Manhattan with the dark shadow of Rhine's father-in-law, Vaughn Ashby, looming over them. As the book's jacket explains, they are traveling "through an environment as grim as the one [Rhine] left a year ago -- surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness."
Survival and whether or not freedom is worth fighting for are the main themes in "Fever." Not only is Rhine's time short (she's already 17), but she also has caught a new illness, and Vaughn is chasing her, determined to catch her and bring her back to Ashby Mansion. Will she survive her escape?
DeStefano's use of imagery lets readers perfectly understand the book's grim world. Her style is haunting yet elegant.
In "Wither," Rhine's world was made less savage due to her lavish lifestyle as a wife. She was surrounded by wealth and luxury and made to forget about the dark skies and the dying world she grew up in. She lived in a bright world.
"Fever" is a reality check for the heroine. Rhine is thrust back into the dark, desolate world she came from.
It is overpopulated, with more and more children being born because so many die of the genetic disease. The majority of people are poor, and their living conditions are horrible. For example, Manhattan is described as having dark clouds hanging over it from the factories in the area. The chemicals from those factories have affected the grass and water, and the trees are bare and lifeless.With major plot twists and heartwrenching moments, "Fever" is hard to put down. It brings anticipation for the final book of the trilogy, which hasn't had any information about it released yet.