The Fever King (Feverwake) Paperback – 1 Feb 2019
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“Lee thoughtfully gives the subject of refugee and immigration policies center stage…the setup of this new world and planned series is genuinely compelling, and it’s filled with striking moments…Readers will be absorbed as the book melds fantasy and action with psychology and political intrigue.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“This fast-paced, issue-driven thriller will collect readers, who will eagerly anticipate the sequel. With references to the Holocaust as well as present-day issues of immigration, deportation, martial law, and racism, Lee has worked philosophical and current-day realities into a promising series opener.” —Booklist
“[A] standout. Diverse characters, frank discussions about sexual and mental abuse, and reasonably plausible science-based magic elevate this above many dystopian peers.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Adults and older teens who appreciate stories with close ties among magic, science, and political machinations will find this first novel appealing.” —Library Journal
“A plague as scary as Stephen King, and a romance as complicated and compelling as all my favorites.” —Sarah Rees Brennan, award-winning author of In Other Lands
“Deliciously fierce and unforgiving, Victoria Lee’s The Fever King is a merciless story that fans of V.E. Schwab’s Vicious should not miss. I will never be over this book.” —Ashley Poston, author of Heart of Iron and Geekerella
“Brutal yet thoughtful, The Fever King is a nuanced, unblinking study of the complex structures of power in a world where magic itself is a disease that few survive. Lee's science-based, gritty world and sky-high stakes meld perfectly with the timely political intrigue of this book’s twisting, devastating plot. —Emily Suvada, author of This Mortal Coil
“My kind of sci-fi: sharp, smart, and political, with something important to say about our own world. Lee offers a fresh twist on magic that makes The Fever King feel totally new and unique. I was absorbed in Noam’s world from the first page—and was dreading leaving it by the last.” —Natasha Ngan, New York Times bestselling author of Girls of Paper and Fire
About the Author
Victoria Lee grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent twelve ascetic years as a vegetarian before discovering that spicy chicken wings are, in fact, a delicacy. She’s been a state finalist competitive pianist, a hitchhiker, a pizza connoisseur, an EMT, an expat in China and Sweden, and a science doctoral student. She’s also a bit of a snob about fancy whiskey. Lee writes early in the morning and then spends the rest of the day trying to impress her border collie puppy and make her experiments work. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her partner.
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As for me, I didn't actually get far enough in to find that out. The opening lines were depressing and dreary and after a couple pages, I found that I'd lost the will to explore this book any farther. The world was depressing. The character was depressing (and only tangentially relatable). While the author is capable of stringing words together in an expressive and coherent fashion, I had no interest in reading what they'd put together.
Perhaps it would be of more interest to readers who like that kind of stuff.
The world created by Victoria Lee sounded scaringly like the world we live in today, minus the introduction of magic. It follows the life of the protagonist Noam, an immigrant who is kept in poverty by an uncaring government. He tries his best to help his father, an illegal immigrant, keep safe and away from bring deported whilst helping at the local immigration centre. Here he is a wizard at hacking into government databases to help the immigrants cause. As a consequence he spends time in a detention centre.
A magical outbreak happens in his neighbourhood and Noam wakes up, having been left for dead, in a morgue. The minister of defence, Lehrer, takes an interest in him and hires him for the government and he moves in to the government compound to be taught how to perform magic. Here he meets, among others, Dara the ministers son. Dara is moody, yet Noam slowly falls for him.
The story is expertly written, I was surprised that this was a debut novel. The world created was believable and at the same time it was a terrible place to be alive. The threat of war with other countries is always there, the government clamping down on a restless population, the poverty among it’s citizens in stark contrast with the wealthy who run society. A world you think unbelievable until you sit back and look at the world today.
The three main protagonists, Noam, Dara and Lehrer are all strong and complex people, each life etched into them by the lives they have led. Each has numerous faults, broken people whose personalities are a product of their upbringing, yet all have a human, caring side that is kept hidden. Each has a personal goal which they will do anything to accomplish. I can’t say that I would naturally pick any of them as being the hero, they’re all too broken for that.
The magic in the book isn’t your standard Harry Potter or worst witch, with spells or wands but more complex and rooted in science. It needs you to be able to understand the maths, physics and science behind each spell. Each magic has different powers. I don’t want to spoil the delight of discovering this for yourself, so I’ll leave it there. All I’ll say is that its a very novel and complex process.
This book comes at a very good time. Dystopia it might be, but yet this world is slowly becoming like the one in the book. Fear of those who are different, fear of other religions, fear of outsiders is rife in our society. Take away the magic in the book and you have a true reflection of what is happening across the world.
I can’t rate this book highly enough. It struck an instant chord with me, keeping me hooked to its sound as I wove through the pages. I’ve read some good books lately but this is a triumph, a book that keeps on giving, changing your views as you weave through the protagonists lives. It changed my mind about what dystopia in fiction is. The politics in the book are so real and living. It’s focus on immigration is brilliant. Substitute magic for anyone else feeling let down and alienated and you have the match.
So I have no hesitation in placing this my favourite book of the year so far. Looking forward to the sequel.
The story itself was good, however I feel that it could've been a bit shorter and tighter as it dragged on in some parts. It was confusing at first, but that could be just me and my foggy brain. I just wasn't feeling confident about the start of Noah and Dara's relationship as it seemed to happen so suddenly, it was kind of Big Brother-esque in an 'I don't know who to trust' kind of way. However, showing a gay relationship in a Kindle First book is great, hurrah!
Having said all that negativity, I did enjoy the intricacies and twists in the story and the build-up of the characters of Noah, Dara and Lehrer. Overall, it was readable, but very disappointing. I wanted so much more from this book, but, alas, it could not stand up to my scrutiny.
I'll admit this was a total cover buy, I hadn't heard of the series before but when it popped up in the first reads program that cover and the blurb had me totally sold. I had very high hopes going in so I really hate to say this but I did end up feeling a little disappointed. There were a lot of really interesting ideas here but I don't think they were executed particularly well, the world building came in the form of sporadic info dumps that were boring to read and hard to understand. Even by the end of the book I didn't feel like I had a strong grasp of what happened to splinter America or even how the much of the world had survived the magical plague. I just have no idea how many countries are left or what kind of state they are in.
One bonus I'll give the story is that it does have good representation, the main character is mixed race and bisexual, there is a gay romance and it also raises interesting talking points about refugees and the way they are often demonised for doing nothing more than trying to survive. I just wish the world building had been better and the plot had been more cohesive. I also felt that the major plot twists were too well telegraphed because I saw them coming from a mile away. I liked the characters well enough but I don't feel particularly invested in their story and even though it ended on a pretty big cliffhanger I currently have very little interest in picking up the sequel. This is Victoria Lee's debut and I should probably give it some leeway because of that so that's why it gets 3 stars rather than 2 but unless I see some really glowing reviews for the next book I doubt I'll be continuing the series.