Title: The Fever King
Series: Feverwake #1
Author: Victoria Lee
Publication Date: March 1, 2019
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐⭐
TW: Drug & alcohol abuse, violence, torture, genocide, mental health, parental death, death of child death
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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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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Win a copy of The Fever King by Victoria Lee. US only. Giveaway ends February 31.