Okay, I've written here a number of times about the Megan Abbott book I started reading on the plane on my way from Seattle a couple of weeks ago. As it turns out, The Fever is an adult book with a child or YA main character (YA in this case), which is a particular interest of mine. I sometimes write about these types of books here. In fact, I wrote about an earlier Abbott book, Dare Me.
The Fever is what I'd call a literary thriller. Maybe a mystery, but not a traditional one with a detective-type character of some sort. The mysterious carryings on are carrying on and the characters are enduring them with no one figure working to bring order to this world. By mysterious carryings on, I mean that the girls at a high school are becoming ill with something unexplained and disturbing. Their parents are terrified, as they should be. What is happening to their babies? What is snatching them away (metaphorically speaking), and how can they put a stop to this and get their darlings back?
Interesting Point One: Fever's main character seems to be teenage Deenie, but we often get point-of-view switches to her brother and father, meaning we're talking two generations of narrator. One reviewer described The Fever's story as being told by a family, which I think is a great way of describing what's happening here. They're not just three narrators. We see that kind of thing all the time. They're three narrators tightly bound to one another, without, say, the sexual tension we often see between dual narrators in YA.
And speaking of sex, that brings me to
Interesting Point Two: Sex is used in an interesting way here. (Not that sex isn't always interesting.) Teenage characters are becoming sexually active in this story. I'm reading along thinking, Ah, this is taking me away from who's going to get sick next and what's going to happen to them. Bring me more sick girls. Then I thought, I guess the author is trying to create a realistic teen angsty world, and teenagers have sex. And angst about it. (Well, who doesn't?) Then I got to the end and realized that sex has absolutely everything to do with this story. It is essential to the plot. Readers just don't get that until the end. Which was a neat little epiphany.
Often in books, particularly YA books, I'll see romance/sex that appears to be there because, Oh, we need some of this. The Fever shows readers sex that truly supports the story it's in.