The Fever King – Victoria Lee

The Fever King by Victoria Lee
YA Dystopian/SCIFI
imagesPublisher: Skyscape
Publication Date: 
March 1st, 2019
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis: In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Disclaimer: First and foremost I would like to thank Skyscape Publishing and NetGalley for providing me the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shapes my opinion, all thoughts are my own.

I had heard conflicting opinions about The Fever King since the ARCs were floating around. I decided to give it a shot, knowing that I am slowly growing out of YA dystopian novels (as some surprise me!). I really wanted to like this. The world building was unique, a fever of magic spreading throughout a divided country and an impending war between said country and his heart. There are tropes that many books of this nature have such as child loses parents, gets whisked away to train, becomes powerful, overthrowing government, etc… but that didn’t sway me into not reading it.

Things that worked for me (could be considered slightly spoilery):

  • The representation for people who identify as bisexual. Noam and Dara having a relationship that is not based on tropes was refreshing. I liked the complexity and I didn’t feel like the nature of their relationship was fetishized at all.
  • Dealing with undocumented immigration, genocide, refugees, etc… and how it affects people who are just trying to better their own lives. This is a reflection of current issues in our lives.
  • Other representations of diversity (Noam’s mother being Jewish and his father being hispanic) It never felt like this book was being diverse just to tick boxes.
  • Interesting way for a boy to gain his powers and learn to utilize them, as well as it being rooted in science.
  • The last half of the book picks up the pace and it was enjoyable! I loved the powers that the characters possessed.

Things that didn’t work for me (could be considered slightly spoilery):

  • I was confused for the first 30% of the book. There wasn’t much explanation as to what a witching was, what war was happening, who characters were, etc. It did come together in the end though!
  • Per Lee’s blog, every single character is queer. While I do appreciate the representation, I don’t find that is really plausible, however we are talking about a future dystopian fantasy world where people obtain magic after a fever that potentially can kill you, so who am I to judge?
  • I didn’t really connect with any other character besides Noam and Dara, and Lehrer gave me serious Darkling vibes and that’s all I could think about.
  • The language structure did not mesh well with me. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I didn’t feel like it was a bit disjointed. This could be because I am outgrowing YA language structure. Noam utilized cusswords as did other characters but then it would be third person narrative and the narration would cuss and it seemed strange. For example:
    • Maybe he’d be the first. A medical mystery. A witching without the witch. Fuck witchings, anyway. Noam’d rather have his dad back. For me, it makes more sense for the cuss word to be an inner thought rather than a narrative voice.

Overall, I didn’t LOVE IT, but I didn’t hate it. I think that after this debut novel, the second book in the series will be have kinks worked out and will deliver! I am interested to see what happens with Noam and Dara. There are adult themes that are explored so I would suggest “older” young adults explore this book!

You can pick up this book at a local or online retailer. It is available now!

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