The Fever by Megan Abbott Audiobook Review

The Fever has been high on my summer reading list ever since I first heard of it. So much good early buzz, a ripped-from-the-headlines premise about a mysterious illness in a small town – I couldn’t wait to read it! Like We Were Liars though, I think these over-hyped books create unrealistic expectations, and I didn’t love this one as much as I’d hoped. It is a smart mystery no doubt, and Megan Abbott has serious writing chops, really “gets” teenage girls and creates an eerie, disturbing story- I just wanted to connect to it a little more. Perhaps this book works better in print- I’m open to giving it another go.


The Fever audiobook

Book: The Fever by Megan Abbott, Hachette Audio, on sale now: Audible *IndieBound * Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Book Info: Audiobook received for review from Hachette Audio. Running time: 9 hours 12 minutes. Read by: Caitlin Davies, Kirby Heyborne, Joe BarrettAlso available in e-book or hardcover, 320 pages from Little, Brown.

The Fever is centered on the Nash family- Tom and his teenage children Eli and Deenie. Deenie is at the center of the mystery- her best friend Lise suddenly has a seizure in class, and soon the town is in a panic to find out what caused this mystery illness. More girls fall ill, including another of Deenie’s close friends, Gabby.  Parents, students, faculty, and law enforcement are in a frenzy to halt this epidemic and speculate that it’s caused lake pollution, or a bad batch of the HPV virus. And is there a relationship between the girls’ first sexual experiences? What could be causing these girls to fall ill? That is what keeps you turning pages in The Fever.

I was not familiar with the Le Roy, NY case on which this story is loosely based, though I looked it up to satisfy my curiosity. Look it up after you read the book- it does make for a great setup for a story – so mysterious. The HPV virus tie-in intrigued me because if you have a preteen daughter you have felt some pressure from doctor’s to vaccinate. Since this vaccine is relatively new and the seizures attacked teenage girls specifically it seemed reasonable to point the finger there, especially since the high school officials in The Fever encouraged all girls to get the vaccine. The polluted lake also seemed highly suspect.

Beyond the mystery, the friendship dynamic is a compelling story of its own. I was warned about triangle playdates since I had a young child; friendships in threes are trouble! And in The Fever there’s mean girl behavior that has Deenie questioning her loyalties. With her friends succumbing to the illness she worries that she’s next or somehow to blame. Her complex feelings about a recent sexual experience also tie into her worry about her friends’ illness and she feels she’s losing control.

The Fever is written in third-person, and alternates viewpoints of Tom, Eli and Deenie. Each of the three holds a piece of the puzzle, with Tom in a unique position as teacher and parent, and older brother Eli also hearing things through the grapevine. The shifting point of view felt jarring at times, but also contributed to the tense feeling of the book. I felt on edge during the whole book.

I listened to the audiobook, which like the book also has three narrators: Caitlin Davies, Kirby Heyborne and Joe Barrett. The three voices are very distinct, so you never get confused about which character is speaking. That said, sometimes the audiobook took me out of the story and I was distracted by the narration. I can’t put my finger on it exactly – but I wonder if I would have enjoyed this book more if there was just one narrator. It could be that the nature of the book is more suited to print.

Listen to a sample of Kirby Heyborne performing one of Eli’s chapters in The Fever:

This was my first Megan Abbott book, and I definitely have a thirst for more reads from her – I have a copy of Dare Me on deck. I like intriguing mysteries like this one in the summer months and this one really unsettled me. It’s a well-plotted thriller and a realistic look at teenage girl friendships. I don’t think fans of Megan Abbott will be disappointed.

Read The Fever if you like: Crossover books, smart literary thrillers, mysteries, and books about realistic teenage girl friendships.


12 thoughts on “The Fever by Megan Abbott Audiobook Review

  1. I’ve read so many books because they sounded good and there was so much hype but didn’t live up to my expectations. I’d say I was more reserved now but nope book hype still gets me all worked up

    1. Lucy says:

      I hear ya- I fall for it every time!

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    I get what you mean – I’m listening to a book right now that I think I might have enjoyed more in print. I loved The Fever in print!

    1. Lucy says:

      Mostly I’m great with audiobooks, but I think you’re right that some books just work better in print. I know you’re a fan of this author and I’m glad to hear you loved the book in print! I need to track it down sometime.

  3. kay says:

    This is probably top 5 of my wishlist right now; I’m pretty sure it will appear on my doorstep before the end of the month!
    This being said, I completely relate to what you said about unrealistic expectations. I try to avoid the hype when I can, because they take away my enjoyment and my experience of the book.
    The fact that you’re ready to give it a second try on paper is interesting though! I do believe that some stories aren’t made for audio – maybe it is one of them?
    Anyway, good review! I’m looking forward to reading it too.

    1. Lucy says:

      I can’t wait to hear what you think of The Fever, Kay! I need to follow your lead and avoid the hype. My preferred reading method is audio, but you’re right maybe that wasn’t the best choice for this book.

  4. This is the first I’ve read about this book, although I will admit I put it on hold on my library based on the cover and the fact that Kirby Heyborne narrates. I hadn’t even read the synopsis yet, although it does sound intriguing. I haven’t read by this author yet either, so I’m interested in seeing what this is all about. It sounds really odd and kind of nail-biting, as a mother of girls, actually. Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. Lucy says:

      I kind of wish Kirby Heyborne narrated the whole book, but I guess that would be weird since this book is centered on a teenage girl 🙂 And yes being a mother of girls adds a whole other layer to this book! Hope you enjoy The Fever, Asheley!

  5. I can not get into audiobooks for some reason. I guess because I get distracted easily. I can do the same thing reading a book too! LOL…I don’t know.

    1. Lucy says:

      Lately the only way I’ve been able to fit in reading time is with audiobooks. I try to read in bed at night and fall asleep! Maybe this is a summer problem I dunno! You know an audiobooks really good when you don’t get distracted when you’re listening, and the narrators don’t detract from the story. But it can be hard to find the right narrators for you.

  6. Michelle says:

    I liked the sample–Thanks for posting that. The book definitely sounds interesting and the cover is quite something too. I listen to audiobooks on my commute and if the narrator isn’t a match for me than I am left switching to the radio more times than not.

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