by Victoria Lee
Unlikable characters, not teen/YA as stated
The characters are unlikable for the most part. Well, Noam was well-developed and likable, but his crush is just a pretty, drunken, foul-mouthed sot that slops around drunk from bar to bar sleeping with everyone – a creep that didn’t deserve any type of infatuation. (Also, the sexual content and the cursing did not fit the Teen/YA category classification; this book would deserve an R at the least if rated as a movie.) There was some really cool world-building, Noam was a relatable character, but there was little else to recommend this book.
Weeks after I read the book, I am remembering only how negative everything was. The Fever King was a soap opera masquerading as a dystopian fiction, and the romance was so heavy-handed that it really overwhelmed what should have been a fascinating story. My problem is not that it was a gay romance (I have no problem with a well-written romance of any type), it was the constant longing, thinking, dwelling on it over and over and over. Hey, we get that Noam is lusting after his crush. It doesn’t have to impact every single scene. Note that and move on to the story.
I love dystopian fiction. I have no problem with well-written LGBT story, but The Fever King is not it. If Victoria Lee had left her sledgehammer in the other room, the story would have benefited greatly. As it is, that bludgeoning hammer slams the human condition in the story into oblivion and detracts from the characterization and world-building. I’m left wishing that I had chosen a different book for my First Reads selection.
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.