Title: The Fever King
Author: Victoria Lee
Series: Feverwake #1
Genre: Science Fantasy
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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.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The Fever King absolutely blew me away. Here’s something I don’t say often, but even though the premise didn’t get me too excited, the execution was incredible. I thought I was tired of dystopian books, but The Fever King proved that new twists can be put onto a genre that’s been trod into the ground. It’s a book that’s poignant in this day and age, exploring how trauma, especially intergenerational trauma, affects people, and what happens when they come out as survivors.
I loved reading Noam’s story. Noam is stubborn and determined and keeps trying to do what he thinks is right. The narrative voice in this was so good. It was authentic and engaging, and even though it was written in third person, I felt as if I was in Noam’s head more than in a lot of first-person narratives. I also came to love Dara a lot–can I give him a hug? Please? Both Noah and Dara were such complex and real characters and I loved the dynamic between them. Yes, it could be prickly and angsty, but I could tell they really did care for each other even though all the miscommunication (which was written so much better than most miscommunication tropes are).
The worldbuilding and magic system was so interesting as well–where magic is a virus that can kill, and is based on actual science. I don’t see many books that can be categorized as science fantasy but this is definitely one of them. The fracturing of the post-nuclear United States was interesting–a bit confusing at first, and I’m still not sure what the exact timeline is, but it didn’t impact my enjoyment of the book. A lot of the backstory to the world comes through documents and videos showing Calix Lehrer’s life. Lehrer was such a fascinating character and I definitely want to see more of him in sequels.
Even though the characters were excellent and the worldbuilding was great, what stood out to me was how tight the plot was. I actually gasped out loud at a few points and even though there were some things that I saw coming, the twists still managed to get me in some way or another. The world of The Fever King incorporated history and current events that cause discomfort–riots, refugee camps, epidemics, biological warfare. I wasn’t expecting this book to be as brutal as it was, but it deals with all types of trauma in a way that’s just so raw. Almost all of the characters have experienced some type of heavy trauma either before or during the book’s events and cope with it in ways that are probably more harmful than not, but they’re survivors: they keep existing and keep pushing boundaries.
I really enjoyed reading The Fever King and will definitely be on the lookout for the sequel when it comes. If you want to see a clever new twist on the dystopian genre, characters that you’ll fall in love with, or just desire for your heart to be shattered by yet another book–read The Fever King. You won’t regret it.
“It’s all random chance. The universe. Us. An infinite cascade of chaos. A series of impossible accidents is the only reason we even exist.”