[Note: I bought this on Kindle the day it came out and then got approved for the eARC on NetGalley the next day, so I’m using my Kindle version for the review, but, I’ll be posting this for NetGalley too so I’ve labelled it as an eARC Review. I received this book via the publishers on NetGalley in exchange for my completely honest review of the novel.]
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.
First off I love this idea of magic being a virus, that it’s not supposed to be a gift but yet still we have witchings.
Also, while magic is a good part and we have witchings which are the centre of a Holocaust scaled genocide in the US, Lee also gives us a good hard look at immigrants dealing with a country where the virus is an even more common fear for them, and so they go to another country, Carolinia to escape the horrors of Atlantia. And it is a beautifully tragic parallel to today’s world and its problem with immigration. People just wanting to find a place to call home where they can feel safe. Not to mention I just felt the political games were well done and my favorite part of the book.
There’s a dystopia really when you look at it as a world where we have failed to keep others safe, and that the immigrants are suffering and there’s a deadly virus that means magic can kill you.
Noam is half Latino half Jewish, and bisexual. I love that he talks about his ex-girlfriend while also acknowledging he has feelings for men. [Won’t disclose who as I’d hate to ruin the story for you all!]
Lee really brings a very teenage-like presence to all the teenage characters which sometimes authors can forget to do she also writes some tragic scenes and they are beautiful and Victoria Lee likes to tear out your emotions and dangle them above your head. Not to mention, and this is super important to me, but all of Noam’s actions have a consequence for better or worse, there’s no question about what happened to him because he did XYZ and I freakin’ LOVE that.
I love the little flashes of Calix information and I wish there would have been more if anything I would say maybe the pacing felt off at times because at moments I would pause and think so much as happened in so little time or so little has happened and yet I feel like I read 200 pages. That combined with the fact that it wasn’t always clear how much time had passed made pacing one of like the two issues for me. So pacing and I wish there would have been more of Noam and his crush interacting, it felt like we didn’t have a lot of time with them and so their feelings are sometimes a bit hard for me to believe. Those are probably my only complaints.
So let’s break it down into my usual Pros & Cons!
– Dystopia feel which is such a direct parallel to our own problems, it’s scary but I love it. She dishes out some truths.
– Calix Lehrer is amazing and I love the peeks at his past.
– Noam’s power is pretty cool
– Magic is a virus, but witchings exist, both concepts are awesome
– Ames (Carter Ames) was my favorite minor characterCons:
– Not enough of Noam and his LI to always make the depth of their feelings believable (you learn that about a year has passed but that isn’t stated which is why I complained about pacing)
– I’m being greedy but I wanted more of those Calix snippets
– Pacing is off and not always clear
– Would have loved more of a look at what it was like for the immigrants, perhaps we will get that in the next book though.
– Dara wasn’t always easy to be sympathetic for at first but I applaud how she handled this.
– And apparently, like most books in 2019 The Fever King just wants to crush your soul and stomp on your feels.Content Warning: Hint of rape/sexual assault, though not gone into detail. Loss of family members and violent deaths. This is a more in-depth content warning from Lee herself.
I really can’t wait to read the next book and I can’t wait to see more of Noam!