Review: “The Fever King” by Victoria Lee

39897058Title: The Fever King
Series: Feverwake #1
Author: Victoria Lee
Publisher: Skyscape
Publication Date: March 1, 2019
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐⭐
TW: Drug & alcohol abuse, violence, torture, genocide, mental health, parental death, death of child death
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

 

 

Debut author Victoria Lee mixes science fiction and fantasy to create an intriguing new world in her series opener The Fever King.

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.

The Fever King is one of my most anticipated releases of this year. I’ve read a lot of good things about it from other bloggers who had the chance to read it in advance, and it made me just want to get my grabby, impatient hands on it. Needless to say, I pre-ordered my copy early (because I am weak!)

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This book deserved all the buzz it got!

I started reading it immediately soon as I got it on my Kindle and finished it almost in one sitting. Fast-paced and gripping, the story pulled me in and plunged me into this intriguing post apocalyptic world where magic runs rampant. I loved everything about this story – characters, plot, the topics it tackled without reservation, the diversity contained within its pages. The Fever King is easily one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.

Noam as a main character was so easy to love. He had a rough life, the son of undocumented immigrants fleeing magic-infested Atlantia, Carolinia’s neighboring country. After his mother’s death, Noam had to take care of his father who, in his grief, falls deep into depression.

But even his father is taken from him when viral magic hits his neighborhood killing everyone except Noam.

Noam is a complex character. Fierce and good-intentioned, though a little misguided and naive. His story reflects that of many migrants especially in the US. Being part of both worlds, I think he felt guilty, unnecessary but nevertheless there, and it drove him to strive to change things for the Atlantia refugees crossing lines and doing things he never thought he would do in the process. 

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It was a ride reading and tracking his journey knowing that some of the people he has surrounded himself with have hidden agendas. You don’t know how many times I wanted to reach out into the book, grab Noam by his shoulders and shake some sense into him. Frustrating as it was for me as reader, I think Noam’s naivety and moral grayness made him more believable and realistic – more human – and it’s what endeared him more to me.

The Fever King tackles some pretty heavy stuff. Immigration and intergenerational trauma are just two of the most prevalent ones. Victoria Lee pulls no punches and weaves these topics into her narrative. But if you’re worried it will be too message-y, then fret not because it isn’t at all. This partly owes it to Lee’s seamless work, but mostly it’s because, I think, she really meant for this book to have half of its foundations built on politics. It’s one of the things I appreciate the most about this story.

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As if it I need more reasons to love this book, The Fever King also features a diverse cast of characters. Noam is bisexual and Jewish. His father, while not directly stated in the book (I think, so correct me if I’m wrong) is Columbian. He converts into Judaism when he married Noam’s mother.

Dara, beautiful and mysterious Dara who had me trying to puzzle him out until the very end of this installment, is so unashamedly gay. He and Noam have this instant connection, tense at first then developing into something genuine towards the end.

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Like Noam, Dara has been through some tough times. Some of it were alluded to in the book, but I could do with more. And maybe we’ll get that in the next book, but in this one I feel like I only half know him. The same goes for Calix Lehrer, the antagonist and Noam’s and Dara’s mentor.

Overall, The Fever King is an awesome book and a great series opener. Taking elements from both genres, it creates an intriguing balance between sci-fi and fantasy. I am totally in for this series and excited for the next book already. Let’s just hope my brain stops thinking about what might happen to Dara and how Noam’s going to play Lehrer’s game. I absolutely recommend this if you’re into sci-fi and fantasy with a generous peppering of political intrigue and manipulation.

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About the Author:

Victoria LeeVICTORIA 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 PA with her partner.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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GIVEAWAY!

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Win a copy of The Fever King by Victoria Lee. US only. Giveaway ends February 31.

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Review: Lissa Price’s “Starters”

Lissa Price - Starters

Callie Woodland‘s futuristic Los Angeles is filled with terrible chaos. The Spore Wars killed everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty leaving  the very young, the Starters and the very old, the Enders. Orphaned, Callie must fend and provide for herself and her sickly brother Tyler, and she does just that with some help from former neighbor and fellow orphan Michael. But times become more dire as Tyler’s illness progress for worse. Callie must make hard decisions which eventually led her to Prime Destinations also known as the body bank.

If you’re a moneyed Ender, you go to Prime Destinations to relive being young but if you’re an unclaimed Starter, you go there to temporarily sign off your body for someone else to use and claim in exchange for money.

Desperate, Callie goes to Prime Destinations and becomes one of their body donors. She’s scrubbed and remade, and fitted with a neurochip in her head to enable the renter to control her body. Her first two rentals went well but just when she thought things are going to go smoothly her third and final one goes awry. A week into her supposedly month-long rental, Callie wakes up inside a bar which she knows is entirely wrong. Then she starts hearing a voice inside her head, the voice of the Ender renting her body, warning her not to go back to the body bank. Fearing that Prime may not pay her if they learn about the glitch in her chip, she abides but soon she realizes that her renter has plans of her own and that everything and everyone else around her isn’t what they seem to be. Callie knows she must do something.

Starters is the first book in Lissa Price‘s two-part installment, and for a debut novel it is a good one. It is a fast-paced thriller of a book. Things just keep on happening one after the other. Callie, the protagonist, is likeable and the world she lives is something you wouldn’t want to live in.

Although labeled as a dystopian novel, Starters lean more towards science fiction. I found the whole body renting process interesting. Imagine being fitted with a neurochip in your brain. Imagine your body being controlled by some other person. It’s a fascinating and scary feat both at the same time. Something that can totally happen especially given our advancement in science. (I’ve recently read something about an experiment where one person was able to control another just by thinking what he wants the other person to do.)

The world of Starters is also another thing I like. It’s genuinely scary and very possible. It’s loop-sided in a very sick way. Teens, the Starters become second class citizens stripped off of their rights while the Enders enjoy limitless resources. It’s a vivid illustration of the powerful preying on the helpless with the Starters as the bullied, weaker side and the Enders playing bully. Because of their unfair circumstances, you just can’t help but to root for the Starters.

The novel is at its best when Callie’s stumbling through the truth behind her renter, her motives, Prime Destinations and the government. She’s a smart girl who can piece together the facts she gathers and ultimately does the right thing at the end of the story, which is to shoot down the establishment.

Another thing I like about this novel is its antihero. The Old Man is a formidable opponent – mysterious, powerful, omnipresent. He’s creepy with a capital C. You can keep on guessing what he’ll do next all you want but really he’s unpredictable which makes him dangerous and exciting.

However, Starters it is not without flaws. The love triangle being drawn between Callie, Michael and Blake feels half-hearted and half-baked. Every time the narrative focuses on their relationship, it slows down which ruins the pace of the story.  I just can’t seem to connect with it. Also, there were plot holes that are really noticeable like Callie’s renter, Helena’s will. There’s also that sub-plot which involves Helena’s missing granddaughter but I guess that’s for us to find out in the next book.

Overall, Starters is an enjoyable fast read. It’s a book you’ll keep on reading not minding the time you spend on it. I will definitely get the next book Enders come January 2014.

Rating: 3/5

If you want to know more about the last book in the series, Enders, watch the clip below. Author Lissa Price (@lissa_price) talks about it.