cover image The Fever

The Fever

Megan Abbott. Little, Brown, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-23105-3

Abbott’s (Dare Me) thrilling seventh novel takes a peek into the strange, inscrutable minds of teenage girls. Deenie, Lise, and Gabby are the “Trio Grande,” whispering together in the library and giggling late into the night during sleepovers. Their “teen-girl-ness” confounds Deenie’s father, a teacher at their school, and her older brother, Eli, a popular hockey player. When Lise has an unexplained a seizure during class, the girls’ triumvirate is thrown into disarray, and no one seems to have any answers. Everyone from doctors to school administrators are keeping quiet, sending a ripple of fear throughout the school. Almost immediately, other girls start getting sick and the suspicions and hysteria quickly rouse the small town into a fervor. Parents, teachers, and students alike speculate wildly, the rumored causes ranging from stress to mutant viruses, as Deenie tries to find out the truth. Abbott’s adolescents are close to pitch-perfect with their sudden switches between childlike vulnerability and calculating maturity. What the narrative lacks in depth it makes up for in momentum and dark mystery. This is a gripping story fueled by the razor-sharp treachery, jealousy, hormones, and insecurities of teenage girls. (June)