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Feverwake #1

The Fever King

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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.

375 pages, Hardcover

First published March 1, 2019

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About the author

Victoria Lee

9 books1,534 followers
Victoria Lee grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent her childhood writing ghost stories and fantasizing about attending boarding school. She has a Ph.D. in psychology, which she uses to overanalyze fictional characters and also herself. Lee is the author of A Lesson in Vengeance as well as The Fever King and its sequel, The Electric Heir. She lives in New York City with her partner, cat, and malevolent dog.

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Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews150k followers
February 18, 2021
Me: *picks up a book with very high expectations and ends up disappointed*

My brain: *slamming fists on table* REGRET REGRET REGRET REGRET REGRET REGRET REGR

I relish the risk incurred by picking up a book that might inspire love or hate because both ends are passionate. As a reader, what I dread the most is the middle ground, the lukewarm, the books that lack whatever alchemy is needed to ensure they land on my heart with a sound of impact. Unfortunately, my images of The Fever King are already starting to fray around the edges. The story is a thing I already faintly remember, and soon it would wither, and I’d watch my memories of it yellow and fade as everything fades in the endless wash of days.

So, what’s this book about?

In Carolinia, those with more power than sense and more money than mercy live in regal, decadent splendor behind high walls, while refugees scavenge the smoldering waste where the plague is waiting to snatch them by the throat.

Noam, the bisexual Jewish Latinx son of undocumented immigrants from Atlantia, loses his father in a virus outbreak that spares his life and gives him nothing but swirling, shapeless memories when his parents’ arms were a fortress and a haven…plus an uncanny ability to control technology. A hint of fear mingles with wonder behind Noam’s eyes when he’s brought to the witching training center and told that he would be receiving personal tutoring from Calix Lehrer, the legendary minister of defense and previously America’s briefly crowned king.

This is Noam’s chance and he seizes it in a desperate hold. However much he had failed his parents, he could still fight for the rights of immigrants like him—those who were told their dreams didn’t match where they’d come from and would therefore never come to pass. But Noam is a witching now, working for the government, and that garners him the mistrust of his people. Determined to show his fellow refugees that he hasn’t deserted their side, Noam works on gathering information that could definitively condemn the government’s treatment of immigrants. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop Noam from admiring his tutor Calix with all the greedy, worshipful need in his boyish heart. His delusions are, however, soon dashed and broken when Noam meets Dara, Lehrer’s adoptive son, and the fraught relationship between father and son yields the truth about Lehrer’s true intentions.

"That was the whole point. Governments didn't have to listen to the people until the people made it hurt to not listen."


As great as the concept of The Fever King is, it is knuckled under by the disappointingly unsatisfying execution.

I plowed through this book, moved only by the cold embers of will. My interest only sputtered throughout my reading like tinder that refused to catch completely. I couldn’t twist myself out of boredom’s holds, and, after a while, my mind stepped around many events without noticing. I just did not care, and the feeling welled up in me so swiftly that I almost did not finish this book.

For a fantasy that weaves political intrigue and elements of sci-fi, The Fever King makes for a sluggish read. It’s not a novel where the reader can seize the arc in a palpable grasp and can feel the intensity mounting towards a rapturous climax. The pace is slow. The tension is slack. The few plot twists meant to induce chills yield only a shadow of the impact I wanted them to contain. The world-building is not intended to do more than sound convincing and leaves far too many unknowns. I was keenly aware, throughout, that the less I questioned the workings of the virus and the “antibodies”, the more I would enjoy this book.

Noam’s character is, unfortunately, not compelling enough to carry the narrative, and, after lengthy, lonely stretches of seemingly thin motivations, repetitive dialogue, the shallowly executed mash-up of secondary characters that are nebulously realized, I found the limits of my patience and gone past them, into the blasted hinterlands of irritation. The story's resolution was also unsatisfyingly easy. Plot turnings and character developments sheer towards the path of least resistance rather than diving deeper into something more complex and more nuanced. The entire plot hinges on a series of coincidences and bouts of luck that don’t stand up to scrutiny. They are too neat, too complete and too many to be entirely plausible. And I was not impressed.

At least for a while the mystery of who or what Calix Lehrer truly is—friend, foe, monster, hero, or something more abstractly symbolic—and the raised stakes of intrigues around him stirred a flutter of interest in me. There’s an indefinable edge to his character that I found fairly arresting. The developing facets of his real motivation are complex and brutal when unveiled for what they truly are. I liked how the threads that separate monster from hero are tangled enough that you can’t trace you steps back to either one of them.

I also cheer the author’s timely criticism of anti-migrant violence, but I thought the strokes were so broad that the attack was more ticklish than searing. The book introduces many important themes—immigration, racism, young people actively pushing back against what the world has decided for them—but doesn't explore them in a thorough way. Instead, it seems content to simply bring them up.

Also central to the plot is a brewing romance between Dara and Noam. It’s formidably refreshing to see a queer romance taking center stage in a YA fantasy novel, but to be honest, the pallid dynamics between Noam and Dara hardened my heart to actually shipping them. My least favorite thing in romance is unnecessary conflict that could easily be solved if the characters…just…COMMUNICATED. Most of their exchanges involve drinking unhealthily amount of alcohol (I get that teenagers drink, but in this novel, it’s honestly skirting the edge of teenage rite passage into really dangerous territory), accusing each other of not understanding each other (again, communication, kids), and getting each other off. Again, I just couldn't bring myself to care.

Overall, I think there was so much promise to the idea of this novel that the sketchy execution was immensely disappointing. This seems to be an unpopular opinion, because many readers seemed to have enjoyed this book. So, I’d say give it a try if it sounds up your alley!

If you liked this review please consider leaving me a tip on ko-fi !

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Profile Image for may ➹.
463 reviews1,852 followers
April 25, 2020
The thing about The Fever King is that it’s about so many different things that it’s just truly indescribable.

It’s about a virus that has taken so many innocent lives, yet has become a magical blessing for those who survive it. It’s about moral ambiguity and deciding what’s right and wrong for you but also for everyone else. It’s about identity, and trauma, and finding your place in a world that is always changing.

It’s about a boy named Noam, and a boy named Dara, and what they must do to keep living in a world that demands more from them but has only given them pain.

(And it’s also about the horrendously, achingly, painfully slow slowburn romance that blossoms between them but that’s not the point!!)

The void from earlier was back, yawning wide in Noam’s chest. Dara felt it too, he thought. Dara might not have lost his family, but he had that same hole inside him. They matched.

I think the most striking aspect of this book, though, is not its captivating narrative, or its impressive writing style, or its intriguing setting—rather, its intricate, carefully written portrayal of the complexities of its characters.

All of these characters are, arguably, morally ambiguous. They are figuring out where they belong in the world, or in some cases, have already decided it and are acting upon it. They’ve all faced trauma, personal and intergenerational, and it’s affected them all differently. The nuance that which this pain is written with is done so carefully.

✦ Noam: a bisexual biracial Latinx/white Jewish teenage boy who survived a virus that took his family, friends, and fellow refugees, and gained the magic of technopathy from it. an activist for immigrant rights, and a sweet, soft boy who is too strong for his own good

✦ Dara: a gay Jewish POC celebrity son of the minister who is as much of a jerk as he is alluringly mysterious. also my son who has been through too much suffering and deserves some semblance of happiness!!

✦ Lehrer: the queer Jewish minister of Carolinia who’s been alive for who knows how long, who I secretly or not so secretly hate

More so, the gay slowburn romance that blooms in this book is just absolutely thrilling. Thrilling, in the please-kiss-already and why-does-this-hurt-so-much and I-have-never-been-more-terrified-for-two-people way.



(stunning art by @bbonsbonss)

While I will admit that I took some time to get into this book, once I was immersed in it, I was immersed. The story moves at just the right pace, keeping you on your toes and anxious for what’s to come, but still keeping you engaged in the present. It only helps that Noam’s voice is such a delightful perspective to read from.

Not only is this an enjoyable, exciting story to read, however, it also tackles important issues such as immigration. Some readers have been angered by the inclusion of this, as well as the simple existence of queerness, and believe the book would be better without those subjects. But I would argue that this book is stronger with these political themes, and the existence of these characters are inherently political because of the people who don’t want them to be included.

Nevertheless, I found the discussion extremely important and well-written, and it did not take away or distract from the narrative, only added more to it. As a queer child of immigrant parents, I related deeply to the threads of queerness and immigration woven throughout the book, and I am grateful they were included.

That was the whole point. Governments didn’t have to listen to the people until the people made it hurt not to listen.

Quite honestly, this whole book hurts, because it seems like seeds of pain are sowed in just when you think you’ll be okay, but the ending of this book for sure overpowers it all. I won’t say much, because I think you all deserve to suffer like I did, but I will say this: it is shocking, it is the ending you wish wasn’t perfect but kind of is, and it will absolutely destroy you.

On that note, my initial reaction upon finishing this book was: hello, 911? yes, I’d like to report this book for making me want to kashoot myself. Frankly, I think that reaction still stands. There are so many things this book makes me want to “kashoot myself” over, from the characters to the romance to the discussion of political issues, but I would still want to read it all over again.

If it isn’t obvious, I truly adored this book and found it not only powerful, but enrapturing and enjoyable as well, and the amount of appreciation I have for it has no end. If you’re looking for gay, moral greyness, and a soul-crushing, heartbreaking book, this one’s for you.

P.S. I highly recommend giving this author interview a read, as well as the extremely heartfelt letter the author wrote about why she wrote The Fever King and how her real-life experiences are reflected in this book!

:: rep :: biracial (Latinx, white) bisexual Jewish MC, gay POC Jewish LI, queer Jewish major character, all-queer cast

:: content warnings :: violence, intergenerational trauma/genocide, murder, abuse, sexual abuse, statutory rape, parental death, death of a child, mental health and suicide, slut-shaming, ableist language, drug and alcohol abuse [more details here]

Thank you to Amazon for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This did not my affect my opinion in any way.

All quotes are from an advanced copy and may differ in final publication.
Profile Image for l..
490 reviews1,920 followers
January 5, 2022
My full review is now up on my blog!

There’s something about books that make you avoid any and all real life responsibilities, stay up until 2 a.m., bleary-eyed and exhausted, and leave you with your soul crushed beyond recognition—and have you loving every single second of it. Something that leaves a distinctly enunciated yes in its wake that reverberates warmly in your heart with its perfect, almost poetic diction, and its all-consuming intensity.

And that special something has ensconced itself deeply in The Fever King.

The Fever King is about family—the one tied together by blood, and the one you choose for yourself—about being torn between two worlds, and fighting for what is right. It’s about loss, living life in the wake of trauma, and about finding oneself; about making choices that shape oneself, and shaping oneself with the choices one makes.

“Now that both [Noam’s] parents were gone, the world was much larger than it had been before—gaping around him, sharp toothed and hungry.”


It is filled with beautiful metaphors, accentuating a writing style that stands out with its uniqueness; a touch of poetry mingled with velvet-soft prose.

“The ground underfoot sprouted with flowers: magical little buds of gold and silver that moved without breeze, glittering petals spiraling up into the air. (…) When Noam inhaled, their magic was spun sugar on his tongue.”


The narrative, too, is completely entrancing, with many clues foreshadowing what’s to come brilliantly threaded into it, creating an slightly unsettling atmosphere that keeps you intrigued and suspicious, and always on edge, waiting for the next shoe—sharp, and elegant—to drop in a brilliant arch that cuts air.

What is perhaps the biggest reason behind, and inspiration for my adoration for this book, however, are the characters; not only the main character Noam—who made something profound in my heart stir, when he curled up in a corner to read a book in silence, and it felt like home to him, who continued to fight for immigrants’ rights, and refused to give up even in the face of adversity—but also (if not especially) Dara.

“Dara, who claimed he hated everything, but secretly dreamed of counting the stars.”


There comes a point in your life, when you realize that fictional characters can make you feel so much love for them that you actually feel like you live through their hardships with them, and that’s what Dara does. He’s a character with layers upon layers, and the more you unveil, the more you love him.

Among many romances, The Fever King’s stands out with a slow burn that tugs at your heart, and makes you simultaneously delight and suffer in equal measure. It shows you that having your heart ripped to shreds by unsaid words, dark secrets, misunderstandings, and horrifying reveals, and mended together by the most beautifully written and heart-wrenching scenes, and witty, humorous banter, can be the best gift you’ve ever had the fortune to receive.

“The void from earlier was back, yawning wide in Noam’s chest. Dara felt it too, he thought. Dara might not have lost his family, but he had that same hole inside him. They matched.”


In a world filled with magic, Victoria Lee brings to life not only an immensely captivating, and unforgettable story, as well as characters that capture your heart; she paints a vivid imagery of very relevant and important issues in our society, and cleverly illuminates them with a searing portrayal.

“That was the whole point. Governments didn’t have to listen to the people until the people made it hurt not to listen.”


The Fever King is a book that crushed my soul, and had me loving every single second of it, soaked in angst, and drenched in anticipation. Victoria Lee believes in her story, lives her story, and pours so much love, and so much of herself, into her characters—and it shows.

It’s a book that destined to imprint itself into your being so wholly that you’ll be left wondering who you were before you came to love it, after you finish it—and all I can say is: you don’t want to miss out on it.

Thank you so much to Megan Beatie for sending me an advance copy of this book! It in no way influenced my opinion, or rating. The quotes above were taken from the ARC, and are subject to change upon publication.

*

I jumped through what feels like a million hoops to get to this book early, stayed up until 2 a.m. to read it, and had my soul crushed … and I can genuinely say that it all paid off.
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
515 reviews34.4k followers
August 6, 2022
I’m on BookTube! =)

”Governments didn’t have to listen to the people until the people made it hurt not to listen.”

The backlog of reviews I still have to write is no joke; I mean I finished this book in May and only managed to sit down and write my review now. Regardless of my review backlog I really wanted to write about “The Fever King” though because WOW, this book deserves a proper review! I wanted to read this book for ages and it always reappeared on my feed with people raving about it. So I was intrigued enough by the plot to put it on my TBR and when I discovered that my library actually had a copy, I couldn’t help but borrow it! And let me tell you this: I regret absolutely nothing!

This was amazing and legit one of the best books I read in 2022 so far! I didn’t expect to fall head over heels for this story and its characters but at some point I realized that all my thoughts revolved around this book and that it stayed with me even when I didn’t read it. And this even though the story line is nothing new. I mean, people with special abilities is a trope that’s been used very often in YA literature. One of the main differences in here is the fact that those abilities come with a virus that either kills the people it infects or grants them special powers if they survive. That concept alone was already very intriguing and definitely made this an interesting story to read. What really made this special were the characters though.

So many secrets, so much political intrigue, such interesting and complex characters and two very broken boys that tried their best to survive in a cruel world. I just loved everything about it. Noam and Dara were just wow! I love it when books make me think and cause me to feel conflicted about the characters and this was exactly what happened in here. I had no idea which side I was on and this was great. XD Anyway, before I accidentally spoil anything I’ll just head to my characters section and continue to rave over there. ;-)

The characters:

Welcome to Carolinia! Where manipulation thrives and political intrigues are a daily occurrence! Take care and beware not only of the virus but also of all the spoilers! They’ll get you when you least expect it! ;-P

Noam Álvaro :

”And I meant it when I said I wasn't gay," Noam said.
Ames looked disbelieving, but she didn't pull away.
Noam smirked. "Bisexual isn't gay."


Where to start with Noam?! I really liked his character and it was interesting to follow his POV. I felt the same confusion Noam did when it came to Dara’s and Lehrer’s relationship and I tried really hard to understand it. There are so many things Noam isn’t aware of and we get to experience everything through his eyes. I felt really sorry for him though because he tries his best to find his way in a world that hasn’t been kind to him and as a refugee and the son of undocumented immigrants his life has never been easy. Well, and then his father dies and Noam is basically an orphan with super powers he has no control over. I swear Noam is the embodiment of a lost boy and I really liked his character. Also can we appreciate that he’s openly bisexual and calls people out when they assume his sexuality?! XD I really loved that about him because despite all the things he’s been through he knows exactly who he is and where he stands and this is pretty amazing! =)

”Everything worth doing had its risks.
And sometimes you had to do the wrong thing to achieve something better.
Noam was willing to gamble with Lehrer’s persuasion if it meant securing a future for Atlantians. What kind of person would he be if he didn’t?”


Dara Shirazi:

"Dara's eyes were black wells, pupils bleeding into iris.
"You can study all you want," he said softly. "It isn't going to make a difference."


Oh Dara, my beautiful, beautiful Dara!!! T_T My heart breaks just thinking of him and I can’t even fathom what he must have gone through all his life. His character was written so well and you know that something about him is off but you can’t exactly pinpoint it and you keep wondering until the end. And then BAM! Oh my! The more I read about his character the more I got on the right track but to actually read it and to have all my suspicions confirmed was an entirely different thing. Dara just tried to protect himself and Noam and he did it the only way he could. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough and the ending had me reeling! I really need to know if he’s okay and if he survived and I’m planning to read book two very soon because I just can’t wait any longer! I’m very scared of what I’ll read in the next book though because I’m pretty certain we’ll get more details and uff... this is going to be tough. I just want to hug Dara and tell him everything is going to be okay. T_T

He hesitated for a moment, darting a quick glance at Noam from beneath his lashes. Then: “I’d like to live out on a farm somewhere. With a garden, and maybe some goats. Somewhere I can see the stars.”

”There was so much more to Dara than the cold, bitter facade he’d presented. He was that, too, but he was also Dara: the effortless genius, the political critic and poker cheat, the boy who analyzed everything he read according to poststructuralist theory and kept fresh flowers in a vase on his bedside table. Dara, who claimed he hated everything but secretly dreamed of counting the stars.”

Calix Lehrer:

”Clever?” Lehrer said. “So are you. And you’re curious, as I was. You’ve lost a great deal, as I had. And you believe, as I did, that if you are powerful enough, no one will ever be able to hurt you again.”

Lehrer.... THIS manipulative, horrible man!!! I always knew that something about him was weird and extremely off, but urgh nothing prepared me for the revelations at the ending of the book. Damn! Some part of me admires how well he crafted his net of lies and machinations and yes, I admit it, I can’t help but marvel at his manipulations as well! But boy! This man is so, so, so bad and everyone is dancing after his pipe even though they don’t know it. What a brilliant and manipulative son of a b*tch! I think Adalwolf was totally right when he said that Calix’s trauma did irreparable damage to his mind. He clearly has no regard for people’s lives anymore and he uses them like he’d use chess pieces to win a match. I hate him. I despise him. But I can’t help but be intrigued by him. ARGH!!! Thanks for making me a conflicted mess Victoria Lee! *lol* Still, I think in his twisted mind he thinks he’s actually doing the right thing and truly believes that he cares about Carolinia. The things that happened to him though... my heart broke for the little boy he was. T_T It was horrible and inhuman and those scientists created a monster...

”Adalwolf was of the belief,” Lehrer said, “that what I experienced in the hospital made me ill suited for leadership. He believed the trauma did irreparable damage to my mind.”

”Now, even though he occupied one of the most powerful positions in the world, Minister Lehrer could walk into the courtyard of the government complex utterly alone, without bodyguards, and not spare a thought for safety. He was untouchable, more myth than man. To look at Lehrer was to see a man who was everything Chancellor Sacha was not: Revolutionary. Principled. Witching.”

”I used my power on Sacha because he had to be stopped,” Lehrer said. “At any cost. I care about nothing as much as I care about this country. I was there when this nation was born, Noam, and like hell will I watch it die at the hands of a baseline.”

The relationships & ships:

Noam & Dara:

”What did Lehrer tell you?”
“He said you were troubled and that I should stay away from you.”
Dara's smile was bladed. He had Noam captured there as thoroughly as if he'd tied him down, because Noam couldn't imagine moving when Dara was looking at him like that.


My two soft boys!!! T_T I really loved them together! Even though they kinda made me mad! *lol* There was so much tension between them and so many little gestures, but they both didn’t know how to be close to each other because their entire life they always tried to protect themselves from harm. To see their struggle was so heart-breaking. They wanted to be together but at the same time they couldn’t. There was so much distrust between them and they felt so conflicted about their feelings. Noam as well as Dara were hurt in so many ways... two broken boys that tried their best to get through the day and then Lehrer added even more fuel to the fire by manipulating them both. This only made it even harder for them to understand and to trust each other. From Dara’s POV it must have been so heart-wrenching because he knew exactly what Lehrer was capable of but he just couldn’t do anything against it. >_< My poor boy!! Also: I can’t believe we went from “I love you.” to “I hate you and don’t care about you.” right to “I love you.” again! Phew! Their relationship was such a rollercoaster and I really hope it will have more consistency in the next book?! Gosh, I just hope Dara survived the virus! T_T

”There was no way to look without sliding off his armrest and moving into Dara’s space. But Dara seemed to want that. His hand caught Noam’s wrist and tugged him closer, until Noam was leaning over him with his free hand braced against the windowsill, Dara’s left thigh perilously close to Noam’s groin, and, fuck.”

”I know you. And I love you.”
Two weeks ago, Noam would have been the happiest person in the world. Now those words were poison. Noam tasted venom like heat on his tongue.
“So read my mind,” Noam said, brandishing a hand toward his own temple. “I believe you, Dara. I just don’t care.”


”He was crying, Noam realized. Dara was crying.
Very carefully, Noam wrapped his arms around Dara’s body and just ... held him there, while both of Dara’s hands took fistfuls of his shirt and clung on tight. He was feverish hot; Noam could feel it even through the sweater Dara wore. It was like holding on to a live coal.”


”I know,” Noam said. He tried to grin, but it felt weak. He said, “I love you too.” and he grasped Dara’s face between both hands and kissed him on his shocked mouth. Dara didn’t resist. Dara didn’t say a word, even when Noam pushed him back and into the car and slammed the door shut behind him.

Noam & Lehrer:

”I can’t be anywhere near this. You know that,” Lehrer said, hand tightening slightly on Noam’s wrist. “It has to be you.”

URGH!!! I absolutely hate how Lehrer manipulated Noam. We get to see everything through Noam’s POV and it was so ... I dunno. Disgusting to read about how Lehrer found a way into his mind and nudged his thoughts in the “right direction”. I felt so violated just reading about it and I don’t even want to know how Noam feels. Lehrer’s power... it’s horrible and the worst thing is that you only realize it very slowly. A little thought here and a small seed there and before I even knew it Noam and his thoughts were completely manipulated by him. Nothing he did at the ending was of his own will and I hated this so much!! ARGH!! Lehrer is such a cruel piece of ... ! The only thing that was truly Noam was when he saved Dara and organized a transport for him. The rest... well it was all Lehrer and considering how much he hurt Dara and manipulated him I don’t even want to know what he’s going to do with Noam in the next book. T_T I’m afraid I��ll be in for a world of suffering and pain. >_< Or well, Noam will be and I’ll live through it alongside him.

Dara & Lehrer:

Dara, sick with fevermadness, his hands on Noam’s face. Saying, “You have to listen to me.”
Over and over.
Lehrer, pulling Dara away like it was easy.
Dara screaming. Don’t let them and Please and Noam’s name, like someone praying the Shema.


This scene broke my heart into tiny little pieces! Noam was the only good thing that ever happened to Dara and Lehrer made sure to take him away from him as well. My poor boy! Dara was so ill and weak and he couldn’t even fight him. Did I already mention that I hate what Lehrer did to Dara?! I always got bad vibes from Lehrer and he failed my vibe check the moment I read about him. What finally settled it was that disturbing scene with the dead bird though. After that I was totally on guard when it came to Lehrer. And the abuse Dara suffered from Lehrer... It wasn’t just physically but also mentally and I have no idea how he could live like that for so long. No one ever noticed and it’s just so horrible. To think that Lehrer should have been his guardian and parent – a person he could trust and rely on - and what he did instead. And we only just discovered the tip of the iceberg. I’m sure there’s so much more to come in the next book and I really don’t think I’m ready for it.

Conclusion:

I rarely say this about books but “The Fever King” was really such a well thought-out book. The characters were multi-layered and complex and the storyline kept me on my toes. All the intrigues and secrets caused me to constantly rethink and readjust my theories and thoughts and the love story between the two MCs broke my heart. I guess you can already tell that this was definitely a 5 star read for me. Highly recommended if you’re like me and appreciate character driven books that feature political intrigues and give you a headache because you’re trying your best to figure out the MCs motives. ;-) I can’t wait to dive into book two, but I gotta admit I’m kinda scared of reading it too.

__________________________________

This book was such a surprise!
I got so addicted to "The Fever King", you have no idea! This was amazing! Political intrigue, a slow-burn m/m romance, broken boys, difficult topics and all in a dystopian setting with people that have superpowers because they survived a virus.
Loved every second of it and I still think of Dara and Noam. My two complicated and precious boys! <333

Full review to come! I need to do this book justice!

___________________________________

Okay, so this is finally going to happen!
I pre-ordered this from my library and I need to read it in the next 1,5 weeks because otherwise I have to return it unread. But I wanted to read this so badly for years so I’m going to do this!
NOW.

Wish me luck! I really hope this will live up to my expectations. XD

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_________________________

I had no idea that I need this book in my life until I stumbled upon the synopsis.
Dang! That sounds so intriguing!
My gay romance radar went on autopilot and my inner queer faerie is slaphappy! *lol*
Guess that's what you call a win-win situation. XD
Profile Image for tappkalina.
628 reviews382 followers
October 18, 2021
24 March 2020

Don't touch me, don't talk to me, don't come near me, don't even look at me!
I have a new favourite: book, world, characters, main character, couple, villain, magic system, literally everything.

Noam Álvaro and Dara Shirazi are the best thing happened to me in 2020 so far.

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art by annettieconfetti.tumblr.com

“I don’t want you to think I’m just like all the others,” Noam said, hesitating there with his hand in Dara’s lap and Dara frowning expectantly up at him, Dara’s fingers loosely curled round Noam’s wrist.
“I know you’re not,” Dara said.
“I’m not going to fuck you and then just—”
“I know.”
“I like you, and I want . . . I need to make sure you know that, because—”
“Noam.”
Noam stopped talking.

I love how we went from:
“I love you, Noam,” Dara said. It was almost pleading. “I know you don’t believe me, but it’s true. [...] I know you. And I love you.”
Two weeks ago, Noam would have been the happiest person in the world. Now those words were poison. Noam tasted venom like heat on his tongue.
“So read my mind,” Noam said, brandishing a hand toward his own temple. “I believe you, Dara. I just don’t care.”

To:
“God. You—Noam, I have to tell you something, please—”
[...]
“I know,” Noam said. He tried to grin, but it felt weak. He said, “I love you too.” And he grasped Dara’s face between both hands and kissed him on his shocked mouth. Dara didn’t resist. Dara didn’t say a word, even when Noam pushed him back and into the car and slammed the door shut behind him.

Now that I'm over fangirling, I want to mention how smart the magic system is! Basically you have to understand how things work to be able to do that. For example, if you're a healer, you have to study medicine, but at the same time you have healing power because you know how the body works. And if you study other things you can get other powers. It's just so fascinating.

Let's not talk about the end. I'll start the next book as soon as I can. And honestly, I feel like I won the lottery because I bought them at the same time. Waiting a year would be devastating.

Dara is my soft child and must be protected at all costs! If you dare to hurt him, I'll kill you. He suffered enough already.


17 March 2020

My baby has just arrived!
Please, let it blow my mind! 🙏

If you're interested in the story, but don't know if you want to read it or not, check out the webtoon! It made me obsessed for sure!
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,878 reviews22.6k followers
March 20, 2019
2.5 stars. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

It’s the 22nd century, and North America is divided into several different countries in the aftermath of a worldwide disaster. A plague that first hit back in the early part of the 21st century killed ― and continues to kill ― almost every person who get infected with the virus. Those few who survive become “witchings,” developing a variety of magical powers as a result of the virus’s presence in their body.

Noam Álvaro is a bisexual teenage refugee from Atlantia, now living in the West Durham slums of the more well-developed country of Carolinia. He’s the son of a Jewish mother and a Hispanic father (thus ticking as many boxes as I’ve ever seen for diversity representation in a single character). When Noam survives a plague outbreak that kills his father and most of the people he knows, he emerges with unusually potent magical powers over technology that make him highly valuable to the people in charge of the Carolinian government. Noam outwardly accepts his new life as a student in Level IV, the Carolinia government’s elite witching training program, and as the defense minister’s protégé. Secretly, though, he plans to use his new position and power to bring down the government, which has been extremely hostile to refugees.

But then things get complicated, particularly when Noam meets Dara, a handsome brown-skinned fellow student who looks like a magazine model. Noam is torn between his deep attraction for Dara and his fears about Dara’s allegiance to another politician who’s taken anti-refugee positions. Noam is also confused about how much he can trust Calix Lehrer, the minister of defense who has taken such a keen interest in Noam’s development.

The Fever King is an LGBTQIA urban fantasy novel that feels more like science fiction/alternative history. Even the magic has a quasi-scientific explanation, which was appealing and helped to ground the novel. On the other hand, it didn’t seem realistic that not just the main characters, but every single character in the novel, is queer (per Victoria Lee’s blog). It made The Fever King feel like an interesting if unlikely exercise in diversity representation. The politics in the novel and its concerns with refugee rights and the gulf between the haves and have-nots also bear a clear message for our current society.

Lee’s storytelling is a little disjointed and unclear, most noticeably in the first half. She creates an imaginative future society, but it could have used more worldbuilding. For that first half I wasn’t particularly enjoying the story, just plowing through it. But then it gets much clearer, and the final third is exciting and tension-filled, with some solid twists and turns. The Fever King is the first book in Lee’s FEVERWAKE duology, and though the ending doesn’t leave you with a terrible cliffhanger, the overall story is clearly unfinished at this point.

Although the main character and his love interest are teenagers, this is a hard-hitting, R-rated book, with countless F-bombs, a semi-explicit gay sex scene (it cuts from the initial foreplay to the aftermath), discussion of sexual abuse, underage drinking, drug use, violence and murder. That’s quite a list, and I thought it was excessive for what is considered to be a YA book. There’s an audience for this type of novel, but I wouldn’t recommend it for younger teens. I’ll admit to some curiosity about how the plot will be resolved in The Electric Heir, to be published in 2020, but I’m on the fence as to whether I’ll actually read it.

I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher, Skyscape, and the publicist. Thank you!
Profile Image for Jamie Finch.
24 reviews64 followers
September 5, 2020
I’m not going to lie, the only reason I decided to pick this book up was for the m/m rep, which did not disappoint (prepare for a lot of angst). I honestly didn’t know much else about it or what to expect, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. .

It definitely took me some time to get into the story, as it did start out pretty slow. I found it a bit info-dumpy in some parts and I initially struggled slightly to understand some of the world building. There was also a fair amount of technological and science talk that went completely over my head 😂. Things did make more sense as the story went along though, and it really started to heat up during the last 100 or so pages. Holy shit did it get intense!

Even during the slower moments, the writing and plot still managed to keep me intrigued throughout and I found myself constantly trying to figure out who to trust and what people’s motives were. The whole concept of the book was unlike anything I’ve ever read. The idea of magic being a kind of virus that not many people were able to survive was such an interesting take on it.

Most importantly, I actually cared about the characters, which really does make all of the difference. It was very much a character driven book and I appreciated all of the little moments that went into developing their relationships.

I really liked Noam as the main character and I found him realistic and quite relatable at times, especially when he didn’t instantly fit in with everyone else when he first arrived at level IV. I loved how he refused to turn his back on where he came from and his passion to strive for change. He could sometimes be a bit too blinkered, however, and there were times when I was frustrated with his character, but the reasons behind some of those moments were made clearer as the story progressed.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a strong desire to protect a character the way I did with Dara. The glimpses into some of the shit he went through broke my heart. There were just so many layers to his character and I loved him so much 😭

There was one character, (who I’m not going to name because it could be a spoiler), who was just so well written and complex. I did suspect early on that there was definitely something up with them ,but I really wasn’t expecting the extent of it. I have a feeling that we have only just begun to scratch the surface of this character and what they are capable of.

The other characters didn’t really play much of a part for me to have any strong feelings about, but I did like Ames a lot. I hope that the next book gives us more development for these characters as well !

Another thing that I liked about this book was the clever way in which Calix’s backstory was introduced via things like letters, audio recordings, encrypted videos etc. I found this much more effective than him just simply opening up about everything that he endured.

This book does delve into quite a few heavy topics, so that’s something to keep in mind before you read it. The author does have content warnings on her website ( http://victorialeewrites.com/2018/09/... ) but I highly recommend it!
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews189 followers
May 13, 2021
Was this completely predictable? Yes.
Did I care? Not even a little, and that should tell you something about how well-written these characters are.

The Fever King is the first book in a futuristic sci-fantasy series set in what is left of the once-United States. It follows a main character who is bisexual, Jewish and Colombian and it features a main m/m romance. It's a story that talks about a lot of interesting themes, and I'm going to get to that in this review, but first I want to talk about what this book made me think about predictability.

I think we often use "this was predictable" to mean that a book was boring and banal. And I mean, that's often true, especially for books in which predictability isn't the point - I... wouldn't complain about predictability in the romance genre, you know - but sometimes it's just not.
Sometimes a book is predictable because it took the path you wanted it to have, because it developed in a way that made sense, because the author didn't decide to sacrifice a perfectly solid and entertaining storyline for the sake of shock value. And as long as the main character isn't naive or unobservant for no reason - and here, that wasn't the case - I'm not going to penalize a book for doing what it should have done.

And did this book go there. The Fever King is set in a country with an internal refugee crisis and an external persecution problem, as it's the only state in the world that doesn't imprison people who have magical powers, and it's a story about how people react to personal and generational trauma, a story about whether and how much the goal can justify the means.
If you know anything about me, you should also know that this last sentence is probably the thing I like to see the most in fiction. Why? Because it makes for terrific villainous characters. And this was no exception. I can't tell you as much as I'd like about the character I'm talking about - because while it's a very predictable storyline, I'd rather write a spoiler-free review - but I found him really fascinating and awful, and isn't that the best combination? As usual, the characters that make me think "I want to know more!" and "please die, like, right now" are the ones I feel strongly about

I also really liked the main character, Noam. He's the son of immigrants, and after he survived a deadly virus and became a witchling, he's thrust in a world that represents everything he has always hated - and to see how conflicted he is, how he's desperately looking for allies and at the same time kind of wants to go back? He was a really interesting character to read about.
And his romance with Dara? The way they start out suspicious of each other but grow closer anyway and still don't really know what's the right thing to do... I have a lot of feelings, it must be that I just really like reading about confused young gays who are trying their best to do the right thing.

The other side characters weren't that developed, but seeing how marginal most of them were, it wasn't that much of an issue. (This also meant that there isn't a woman who has a relevant role in the whole book, which I... don't really like)

I liked reading about this world. It looks like a horrible place to be in, but it also has one of the most interesting magic systems I've read in a while, both because it includes superpowers I had never seen in a novel before - the main character main's power is technopathy, basically magical hacking - and because it's based on knowledge; you can get new powers if you study (for example, you can get telekinesis from physics).
What I liked less about the world is that I often had no idea how anything looked like, but I can't say I didn't like the writing either, because this is the kind of story that felt effortless and that I went through in less than two days, two days during which it took over my head and I couldn't think about anything else.

Update [May 11, 2021]: I didn't love it quite as much on reread (some weaker parts re: writing were more noticeable), but it still kept my attention and I started the sequel immediately after turning the last pages, so yes, this is a great book
Profile Image for Hamad.
972 reviews1,284 followers
July 13, 2019
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“That was the whole point. Governments didn’t have to listen to the people until the people made it hurt to not listen.”

🌟 I picked this up because a couple of trusted bloggers read it and loved it. The book came out during the time I had my finals back at university. I then started seeing many disappointed readers reviewing it and this book’s average rating was going down steadily (At the time of this review it is 3.77). I still wanted to read this because it sounded interesting and I now know what is happening so let me explain.

🌟 This is a debut and their are some mistakes that I do understand. I have been reading many great debuts lately but I always keep this is mind. I think the execution of this book was OK at best!

🌟 I don’t know how to say this but the writing style seems clinical and a bit too “rigid”. I found out that I was right and the author is doing her PHD in science! The book was not long but I found myself dozing off a couple of times while reading it. The writing was not bad to be fair but I think it needed to be more flexible and alive!

🌟 The other problem is that book tried to be many things at once, If you check what I wrote under genre above, I put YA/ LGBT/ Fantasy/ Dystopian and Sci-Fi. This reminded me of Marie Lu’s Legend series without the fantasy parts! There is a reason why I mostly avoid Dystopian novels these days and that is because I swear they all have the same plot, at least that is what I feel! There is always a virus and a prodigy and betrayals and I knew what would happen in this book after finishing just a few chapters!

🌟 There were many tropes that made this easy to predict and the characters were not multidimensional! I thought the haters to lovers trope was not convincing and I didn’t care what happened to the main characters. Their actions and conversations also became redundant at some point!

🌟 Summary: This is a harsh review but you know me, I can’t pretend that this is something that it is not! I follow the author on twitter and she is a really great person, I don’t have anything against her but it is what it is! I think TFK was a book that I have read many times before in different books, the characters were not easy to connect to and there were repetitions! I am not going to continue the second book when the book comes out but I will be reading the web comic as it may be better and easier to read!
Profile Image for Silvia .
635 reviews1,371 followers
February 22, 2019
I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the author for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

Me: h-
Victoria Lee, probably: I'll make sure you never know happiness again

THAT HURTED but like in a good way.


It’s hard to say in a sentence what The Fever King is about.

You could say it’s about Noam, a Jewish Latino bisexual teen who survives the magic virus that kills most of the population and leaves him a witching, status which grants him a spot among the people he and his family have always fought against. You could say it’s about impossible decisions and the line between right and wrong. You could say it's about intergenerational trauma and what it does to the individual and to a community.

The Fever King is a book that will draw you in and make you care about the characters and the story. Even if you are not familiar with the genre (I would say it’s YA political fantasy/dystopia), the narrating voice of Noam guides you through the book in a way that draws from more light-hearted YA books. That is to say, Noam is a joy to read and he manages to make you smile and laugh even amidst all the stuff that goes on in the book. Sometimes I found like this could have been toned down a little, and at times I felt like the type of narrative used was more proper of a first person POV than the third person used here, but that's just a personal preference.

I loved the magic system and the fact that, even with magic powers, people still need to know the science behind what they’re doing (eg knowing physics in order to move objects with telekinetics). That's something I wish was more present in books with magic because it's always so interesting to see and much better than when magic has no explanation or rules.

One of the strongest things this book has to offer are the many political themes that I don’t feel qualified enough/entitled to talk about. I encourage you to read Victoria Lee's words about some of the themes that shape this book.

I'm not going to lie, I struggled a lot (for months!) trying to write a review, because this is such an important book and I felt so bad not giving it a full five stars. I also read an early copy and I don't know how much the final product will be edited, but I fully plan on rereading it because the only problems I had were in the writing, which to me feels somewhat debut-y. I felt like the worldbuilding could've been better interwoven into the plot instead of being sometimes dumped in a big bulk. Sometimes it was tell-y instead of show-y, and I think certain *hints* were a little too obvious for my tastes.

Those are just my personal preferences though, and I don't want anyone to think that this isn't an incredible debut. There were so many points that made me laugh out loud and others made me SCREAM because they were some of the most evil things I've seen done by an author, and I mean that in the best way possible of course.

Some reasons you shouldn't go into this book is if you're expecting it to be about 100% good people (they're not) and also if you don't like gay shit. But in that case you can gently go fuck yourself and it's your loss I guess, because e v e r y o n e in this book is wonderfully queer.

TWs: list of trigger warnings on the author's website, plus a few I feel like adding: sickness resulting in death of a child, mention of c.p., murder, blood, gore.
____
The author just confirmed that everyone in the book is going to be queer. I also have two functioning kidneys I'd be willing to trade for an ARC,

I've...........got an ARC. Holy shit. *cries in bisexual*

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Profile Image for Romie.
1,053 reviews1,269 followers
June 5, 2020
this is one of the very first books that made me feel so loved as both a queer and jewish person. and the fact that this book is about fighting for justice? yes please. it's not one of my all time favourite series for nothing.

“sympathy isn't action.”
Profile Image for Monica.
506 reviews156 followers
July 15, 2019
Really enjoyed this! It kept my interest thru the entire story. I only wish it had been longer and more developed. I would definitely read a sequel!

*Thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for - ̗̀  jess  ̖́-.
575 reviews358 followers
March 15, 2019
“It's all random chance. The universe. Us. An infinite cascade of chaos. A series of impossible accidents is the only reason we even exist.”


The Fever King absolutely blew me away. Here's something I don't say often, but even though the premise didn't get me too excited, the execution was incredible. I thought I was tired of dystopian books, but The Fever King proved that new twists can be put onto a genre that's been trod into the ground. It's a book that's poignant in this day and age, exploring how trauma, especially intergenerational trauma, affects people, and what happens when they come out as survivors.

I loved reading Noam's story. Noam is stubborn and determined and keeps trying to do what he thinks is right. The narrative voice in this was so good. It was authentic and engaging, and even though it was written in third person, I felt as if I was in Noam's head more than in a lot of first-person narratives. I also came to love Dara a lot--can I give him a hug? Please? Both Noah and Dara were such complex and real characters and I loved the dynamic between them. Yes, it could be prickly and angsty, but I could tell they really did care for each other even though all the miscommunication (which was written so much better than most miscommunication tropes are).

The worldbuilding and magic system was so interesting as well--where magic is a virus that can kill, and is based on actual science. I don't see many books that can be categorized as science fantasy but this is definitely one of them. The fracturing of the post-nuclear United States was interesting--a bit confusing at first, and I'm still not sure what the exact timeline is, but it didn't impact my enjoyment of the book. A lot of the backstory to the world comes through documents and videos showing Calix Lehrer's life. Lehrer was such a fascinating character and I definitely want to see more of him in sequels. 

Even though the characters were excellent and the worldbuilding was great, what stood out to me was how tight the plot was. I actually gasped out loud at a few points and even though there were some things that I saw coming, the twists still managed to get me in some way or another. The world of The Fever King incorporated history and current events that cause discomfort--riots, refugee camps, epidemics, biological warfare. I wasn't expecting this book to be as brutal as it was, but it deals with all types of trauma in a way that's just so raw. Almost all of the characters have experienced some type of heavy trauma either before or during the book's events and cope with it in ways that are probably more harmful than not, but they're survivors: they keep existing and keep pushing boundaries.

I really enjoyed reading The Fever King and will definitely be on the lookout for the sequel when it comes. If you want to see a clever new twist on the dystopian genre, characters that you'll fall in love with, or just desire for your heart to be shattered by yet another book--read The Fever King. You won't regret it.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

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Profile Image for Tucker  (TuckerTheReader).
908 reviews1,574 followers
May 24, 2020
Let me preface this mini review by saying I have talked to the author and she seems really nice. I have nothing against her. That said, I unfortunately did not enjoy this as much as I hoped I would. I was expecting a lot of sci-fi (which there was but not as much as I was expecting.) I had trouble staying focused on the story. (But that's mostly because I had some personal things going on while I was reading this.) All in all, I loved the writing style. The story intrigued me at first but slowly petered out towards the end.
Thank you to Brilliance Publishing for sending me an Advanced Reader Copy

***
Therapist: So what's been on your mind lately.
Me: so there's this book. I really want to read it but it doesn't come out until March.
Therapist: You know what to do about that right?
Me: Kidnap the author and hold her ransom for an ARC of her own book?!
Therapist: ...
Thank you to Brilliance Publishing for sending me an Advanced Reader Copy and thus saving their debut author from a kidnapping.


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Profile Image for nemo the emo ☠️ (pagesandprozac).
850 reviews399 followers
May 31, 2020
after over two motherfucking years i have FINALLY read a young adult book that's 5 stars. and thank god for that. i was beginning to think that a) i'm an old curmudgeon now or b) the genre is just full of trite recycled shit.

thank god.
Profile Image for Vicky Again.
582 reviews820 followers
May 11, 2020
THIS BOOK, Y’ALL.

I love it so much? It was tightly written and wonderfully set up and I love the characters and am SO DEAD at the ending.

Whew! I could scream about this book all day, honestly.

In short, if you get anything from this review, it’s that you should READ THE FEVER KING. GO.

The lovable characters + ships.

Honestly, Victoria Lee is a master at creating characters I love and feel intensely attached to.

It’s one thing to write characters that are real or interesting, but it’s a completely other thing to write characters that you fall in love with and can’t get enough of, and they’ve totally made this happen and I LOVE Noam and Dara and everyone else (except you-know-who).

I want them to have a happy ending. I’m actually invested in them and their stories and their happiness, and I think this is one of the greatest things a fiction writer can accomplish, and Lee has done this.

All I want from the sequel, The Electric Heir, is for Noam and Dara and everyone else to happily retire in a beautiful countryside and skip through fields of daisies. Is that too much to ask? *sobs*

The gritty futuristic setting and the creative virus.

I loooove sci-fi and the setting feels very sci-fi to me. It’s not like the 2010 dystopian YA fiction a la Hunger Games, but more gritty and a little apocalyptic (or, more hopeless if not apocalyptic) with more influence from our current world and modern politics.

It’s so rich and immersive and you get sucked into Carolinia (although, we’ll apparently be seeing other areas of this futuristic world in the sequel) and the almost desperate life people have to carve out for themselves and the suffering that is prevalent.

There’s a lot of different issues that Lee tackles, and it can be messy and confusing and not clear cut–exactly like life. A lot of the time in fiction, it feels like these types of worlds are divided into “rebels” and “non rebels,” but Lee writes something more complex than that. They write how different causes and things give those who protest different goals and ideas and it pulls them to decide what is their priority.

This is real. It’s not clean cut and one group is in the wrong and one is in the right. It’s got so many different elements that are part of real-life movements.

The fight for women’s rights? There were so many different divisions, and some activists excluded black women (*cough* Susan B. Anthony), but did it with a purpose (for feminism–this doesn’t mean she was right, though). Others disagreed with her methods.

Black rights? So many different activists who had different views on how to acheive equality throughout American history.

There is no clear set right or wrong way to do something when you’re dealing with a movement, and another one of Lee’s triumphs in this book is how they show the more morally gray and not straightforward elements of a movement that isn’t necessarily prominent in other YA fiction pieces.

And the virus added a little bit of a fantasy element, which I loved reading! Most people who get the virus die, but the few survivors now develop special abilities, and the protagonist Noam is one of them.

The smart take on social issues in a fantasci setting.

I talked about this a little bit in the last section, but even more than a realistic depiction of activism, there’s also a lot of social issues being tackled by Lee, and I think they did a good job in balancing all of these.

From immigration to religion and their links to politics, Lee weaves this into the story without making this a book whose primary focus is these issues. It’s part of life, and that’s real.

Anyone who says that this book is too political should be reminded that the existence of any person who is a minority is inherently political. You can ignore it, but when it comes down to it, political issues give rights and take them away, and it almost never does this with non-minority groups.

Lee makes the social issues in the books prominent and there, yet woven into the story to not make it the focus. Because Noam’s existence is inherently political, and so are many of ours.

THE ENTIRE STORYLINE OMG.

Lee captures your attention right away with a heavy introduction feat. the death of Noam’s father and the virus infecting the area where he lives.

And from there, it only gets more and more tense as Noam joins Level IV and meets new people–some good and some bad–and gets intertwined with this viciously complex plot.

You’re left guessing who is the bad guy, and Lee toys with the reader and their perception of what’s happening, it’s mindblowing.

It’s very tightly plotted–there’s no room for errors or holes in this story or else it will all fall apart, and the climax had me internally screaming and externally tearing up.

It’s good. It’s really good.

And the ending. The ending killed me.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

I just–HOW COULD YOU DO THIS.

I have no words.

Everyone needs to read this just so we can all scream about the ending from our houses and vibrate the earth with the sheer force of our shrieks.

Overall . . .

Please read it. Thanks.

(Seriously, I love this so much and I can’t believe I have to wait till NEXT YEAR for book 2 to come out.)
Profile Image for Fadwa (Word Wonders).
543 reviews3,548 followers
April 20, 2019
Original review posted on my blog : Word Wonders

CW: mention and description of suicide, illness, death, violence, fascism, drug use, excessive drinking, pedophilia, statutory rape, abuse in all its forms, manipulation, trauma, murder, gore, generational trauma, ableist language, slut-shaming.

Do you ever rate a book five stars and the more you think about it the more you realize just how much more you love it and how you wish you could give it a billion more stars? Because that’s me with The Fever King. I finished this book two weeks ago and yet the more I think about it then more I realize how much I underestimated my love for it. Which… is understandable because my goodreads reaction right after finishing it was literally “Just. Can someone please explain what the fuck?”. And that’s still accurate now and will probably be until I read the sequel because literally what the fuck?

I love Victoria’s writing so much, if you think about it, it’s quite clean and simple, but the way they string sentences together and charge them emotionally just drives a nail through your heart. They wrote The Fever King as a very timely and politically aware piece of literature, this is a book that didn’t come to play and isn’t afraid to call out everything that’s wrong with the system. And I know this is something that it’s been criticized for. Too political. Too queer. But I think what those people mean too real. Because this book will speak the truth and it will make you uncomfortable but you’ll love it all the more for it. I know I did. I adored it with every rotten fiber of my heart.

The concept of this book is a great one and I loved the angle the author approached it with. The Fever King is set in a future US that has been divide into different nations. We’re in Carolinia, one of said nations and the world has been fighting this virus for decades upon decades because when it strikes, it kills most people and those it doesn’t kill get magical powers, excuse me but mixing science and magic? HOW COOL IS THAT? The powers the person ends up getting are more often than not influenced by their affinities pre-infection and they can learn other skills, if they understand the science behind them. It’s been a long time since a magic system had me so giddy to learn more but this did it. My science nerd brain was well fed. And all of this was extremely easy to grasp.
Noam, our bisexual Colombian Jewish main character, survives the infection that kills his dad and wakes up with technopathic powers. And listen. I would die for this boy, I loved how witty and cunning he is, he has a smart mouth and isn’t afraid to use it, but he’s also naive, strong headed and could avoid a lot of trouble if only he listened once or twice. He’s also the son of undocumented immigrant and has grown up extremely poor because of Carolinia’s cold shoulder to its refugee population as well as its increasingly loud and violent anti-immigrant sentiment. And he’s determined to destroy the system that killed his parents from the inside out.

This book not only draws parallels with what is currently happening (in the US) but it also explores inter-generational trauma when drawing a parallel with the Holocaust, and space was explicitly made for that discussion by making the main cast Jewish.

I was drawn to Noam’s character because of the decisions he had to make and how that created a golden opportunity to explore moral ambiguity and the lengths people would go to for what’s right, where do they draw the line? Is the line the same for everyone? Does this line even exist in such an oppressive and borderline genocidal climate? What’s right? What’s wrong? Are things really either or and not somewhere in the murky grey middle? And that was fascinating to read, and quite frankly one of the stronger suits of the book, which makes me circle back to this book being “political”, and makes me ask, how can it not be when the very existence of its characters and the people they represent is made political?

Then there’s Dara. Troubled soft Dara who just wants to live on a farm and stargaze until he grows grey and old. And through the whole book, I just wanted someone to wrap him in a -consensual- hug, tuck him in bed with a good book and some hot chocolat. He’s Jewish and the adoptive son of the Defense minister of Carolinia, comes off as a snarky jerk who doesn’t care about anything, but who just has to deal with a huge amount of trauma every. waking. moment. And listen, I’ve never felt more seen, acknowledged or validated by how trauma coping was handled in my whole life.

Victoria didn’t shy away from showing the gritty, messy, dark and very much unhealthy ways people can cope with trauma. How sometimes your only coping mechanisms are isolation and self-destruction because it’s better to suffer at your own hands than at another’s and because you don’t have the tools or vocabulary to do it any other way. Dara’s touch aversion, his nonchalant and dick-ish façade, the way he had to live with people worshiping his abuser while he knew how much of a piece of shit he was and not being able to do anything about it. All of it. It was extremely hard to read but also extremely cathartic.

Because of how much trauma both characters deal with, the relationship between them was intense, and they weren’t always great for each other but they ultimately stuck by each other no matter their differences. Which…is another real part of this book, trauma not only affects you but it also affects the way you interact with people and if you ask me, it adds some kind of urgency and intensity to the way you care about people, which can turn toxic if not handled well, and I feel like this book navigated that line so very well, showing both sides of the coin. I not only rooted for Noam and Dara to KISS ALREADY but I also rooted for them to open up to each other, and be honest and GOOD to each other. Their romance was so slow-burn and tentative and I lived for the few sweet moments they had.

Another prominent character I want to talk about is Lehrer, who’s the queer Jewish minister of defense and never in my life have I felt so conflicted about a character. And I’m still not sure how I feel about him even after finishing the book. He’s lived over a hundred years, maintaining himself with his magic (being the most powerful person to exist), and he’s mysterious and complicated and absolutely horrifying but that draws you to him even more because you can never be sure of what his attentions are or if his agenda is really what he says it is (I don’t think it is but!!!! i don’t know!!!!). There are other side characters in the book that make up Dara and Noam’s friends group, who are Ames, Taye and Bethany and I hope we can see more of them in the future, especially Ames. I love that girl to pieces.

This review is long enough as it is, and I think I’ve overshared more than enough for one post so I’m gonna leave it at this and urge you to PLEASE read this book if you can handle the topics it tackles. It’s brilliant. Now yours truly has to agonizingly wait for THE ELECTRIC and HOW am I supposed to survive so long on that ending? HOW?
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
828 reviews3,676 followers
February 15, 2021
The Fever King is like anxiety all over again : I predicted almost everything but it didn't change a thing because somehow being warned didn't suppress the sheer horror I felt watching it unfold - (softly) fuck 🙂

Funny how I dnfed this book early last year only for it to break my fucking heart when I gave it another chance on a whim 🙂🙂 Now I'm an angsty, desperate mess and I guess I deserved it 🙂🙂🙂

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Xandra (StarrySkyBooks).
116 reviews147 followers
September 9, 2020
Hmm... I liked it, I promise! But last night, I spent 30 minutes explaining to myself all of the problems I had with it, so...

Yeah. Definitely did not love it, but perhaps this was just because I was thinking too hard?

First of all, I am very very sorry that I did not love it. I actually did love it, up until page 290 and I started to rethink my entire experience for reasons that I don’t think anyone else has pointed out before me. On one hand, I really really liked the first half of the book. But on the other hand, I've never finished a book and had so many negative things to say about it. I could make a list but I would not want to crush the spirits of everyone who gave this book 5 stars.

Chai, an ever-fantastic reviewer and blogger, has a great review for this book, and I think it also explains a lot of my feelings, so go read that review, too.

___

The first half was great. I had very few problems, and I really liked the pacing of getting to know Noam, the other characters, and their world at that point. In those moments, the world building was cool! I liked the science magic. That was interesting. Everything was interesting to me at first! All of the makings of a great book!

Noam! I did like him. Nicely-written main character, most of the time. I also liked Dara. Some of the time. Overall, I appreciated these characters and their identities. I appreciated what they represent in the story, Noam as a refugee and both of them as queer POC main characters, teens trying to find their way in a broken world. A lot of the struggles they faced, and especially with Noam because he was The main character, were very real and definitely speak to immigration and general adolescent issues we have today.

But it’s… becoming hard to explain anything else I did like about this book, so let's get into something else.

I think my main issue was the writing style. It was the root of most of my problems. It caused me to think too hard about what was going on, and it always felt like I was missing something, a bit of information that was left out or that was implied but not enough. (lol maybe i'm just dumb)

There was a scene toward the last third of the book which made me really question what the heck was going on with the writing. Without spoiling anything, Noam accidentally discovers that someone he knows is in a potentially abusive relationship, and his first reaction to finding this out is… off-putting and bizarre, especially considering how upset he is about this discovery a few pages later. In the most non-spoilery way possible, this would be equivalent to someone finding a youtube video of a person in a dangerous situation on the street and saying “that person looks like someone hot I know”. Like… ?????? That’s a completely irrelevant and irrational thought to have??? Upon seeing potential danger???? I reread that scene 10 times and it never once made sense. I’ve read like 15 reviews for this book and no one is mentioning this, either.

And after that scene, everything felt a little off to me, and it had almost nothing to do with the previously described scene. The character movements and dialogue were stiff or strangely sudden. Sometimes my mind was just ????? for no good reason.

Perhaps I am too sensitive. Perhaps I am too critical. I will accept both of these criticisms, but… I implore you to read that scene I described and not have a problem with it.

Anyways! I guess I liked it and I will be reading the second book.

tl;dr If I tried to explain to you every single thing I had an issue with, we would be here for a while. I liked it. The first half was great, the second half was not. Try it for yourself, but read the content warnings first.


CW: past suicide of loved one, sexual abuse, violence, statutory rape, intergenerational trauma/genocide, death and murder, death of a child, ableist language, drug and alcohol abuse, pedophilia.

At this point, I have no idea what's going on with my rating system. 😅 I might have to change some of my ratings on here.

I have never wished for half star ratings more in my life. This book is neither 3 nor 4 stars in my heart. It is a solid 3.5. And just to confirm it, I did some math.

Character like-ability: 4
Character development: 3.5
Plot development: 4
Writing style: 3
Dialogue: 3.5
Personal emotions: 3.5

3.58 ≈ 3.5 stars
March 6, 2019
4.25

The Fever King is a diverse and gripping sci-fi thriller of suspense. The fast-paced political intrigue between the two major factions in a post US apocalyptic world and the main protagonist tangled up in it all had me glued to the pages.

The former US has been befallen with a virus that destroyed most of the population and left two major metropoles. Atlantia in the southeast, a nuclear wasteland comprised of refugee camps, a place where all the sick people were dumped into; and Carolinia, the elite and knifing power of the rich, healthy and wealthy.

Noam’s mother was the first in the family to die of the virus. Now, working hard to support his sickly father, Noam works double shifts, cooks and cleans in the shackle among shackles that comprise his neighborhood. Noam’s father used to be an activist for human rights and helped as many people as he possibly could. No one knows how the outbreaks started exactly. It could have been a tank coming from the quarantined zone that wasn’t hosed down properly or residing dormant in the blood of their hosts for a while.

REFUGE RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS (Revolt of June 2018)

Noam begins a fever and wakes up in the hospital. His body fought the virus and conquered it. This makes him a witching and the ability to control technology. There are only a few of those, it is rather rare and special and he becomes of interest to the minister of defense, Mr. Lehrer (ironically that means teacher in German). Noam will house with other students in a facility where he will be taught to handle his powers in a secret plot against the government. This is where he meets the elusive Dara who is way ahead of his game in his abilities.

Torn between the factions of good and evil, and missing his dad, Noam still wants to secretly help the cause in aid of refugees. Shifting political powers and agenda’s make it difficult for him to know who is truly working for whom. A collision in action with Dara spikes a different kind of connection to his classmate. One, that opens up personal wounds among a backstabbing revolt that needs sorting out. How will Noam fare and whom can he trust? Will he be able to make his contributions to society or will he just be used as a pawn in the dangerous game between the factions? As high ranking officials die in questionable circumstances, Noam will make the most daring and costly move of his life at the brink of termination.

***

This YA novel feels so timely and checks off all the boxes of a great read. The premise, background, and plot were intriguingly crafted and provided a rush that had me read this novel in one day. It differs from other YA novels I have read, as it tackles current political and historical parallels with the added bonus of diverse characters.

I really liked this book and am so glad I picked it up. The first 2/3 rds. of it were a straight 5-star read but then it tethered a bit for me. Now, a disclaimer on my part, I do not read romance novels of any kind, and this one contained romance and the angst of love both physically and heartfelt between two characters. I was more interested in the overall plot. Again, just me. I know many that will enjoy those components.

The Fever King is part of the Feverwake series. Not sure if it will be a duology, trilogy or more. I could not exactly find that out, but the author’s blog has a lovely post about the inspiration for this novel referring to the Holocaust.

Again, a very timely fictional YA book. I think anyone looking for the “and then some” will find it in The Fever King.
Profile Image for Devanshi.
218 reviews159 followers
December 2, 2020
Everything worth doing had its risks. And sometimes you had to do the wrong thing to achieve something better.

I don't even know where to start.
The great world building of a virus infected country which I know the author wrote before the current situation but still resonated perfectly.

...built Carolinia from the ashes of the catastrophe, a nation cut from what used to be three states, now sewn together and made whole. It was lovely because it was loved—because it was alive.

Or the scientifically sound magic (that sounds great, by the way:)) where every single magic had a perfect scientific explanation (even better than my physics textbooks), which makes you feel that it might actually be possible in the future.

...but magic requires specific knowledge in order to be used. To move a ball across the room without touching it, one must have some understanding of physics. To deflect a tornado from hitting the city, one must know meteorology.”

Or that one naive boy who took so many risks to do something useful in his life. To make it count.

“Don’t you start with that sass, Noam Álvaro. All of us have our roles to play.”
And Noam’s, apparently, was to take all the risks.


Or that other cute one who inspite of suffering a lot, just wants someone to believe in him for once. Who wants to just run and live in a farm counting stars.

“I’d like to live out on a farm somewhere. With a garden, and maybe some goats. Somewhere I can see the stars.”

Or that perfect villain who was fair(?) in most aspects, who has suffered quite a lot in his life and rose from the ashes. Who believes everything good will happen under his power but uses the worst methods to employ them. The mind games. The politics. Its just too much.

Everyone who had lived through the catastrophe was dead . . . except Lehrer. And as long as Lehrer had this mark, the descendants of those men who’d tried to wipe witchings off the earth could never sanitize history.

Or that relationship that was bit too fast for my taste but sweet nonetheless.

(Dara) “All of it—it’s all random chance. The universe. Us. An infinite cascade of chaos. A series of impossible accidents is the only reason we even exist.”....
(Noam) “I’m glad you exist,” he said.


Or that heartbreaking end. Where is the next book?

The war was over. It was time to build something new.
Profile Image for ☀ Kat Nova ☀.
66 reviews130 followers
June 19, 2020
JHKJWHNjdfhlsk… daraaaaaaA

DARAAAA! MY SWEET DARA!!! Ohhh I can’t form thoughts right now I really can’t I just know I love him and I would catch every star in the sky for him



Woww, this book was a lot more messed up than I thought it would be. It was also a lot more on the mature side of YA than I expected? Honestly, NOTHING went as I expected. And I loved every second of it. This book addressed some very relevant topics through such an interesting storyline. It was kinda scary how real some parts were. The virus, and especially the riots, felt like they were based on today's events even though this was written a while ago.

“Governments didn’t have to listen to the people until the people made it hurt not to listen.”

The political intrigue was crazyy. So many secrets. So many schemes. And even throughout all the political messes going on, Noam and Dara still managed to have this beautiful, frustrating, slow burn romance between them. Listen, every time they fought (and they fought a lot, though it was for good reasons.) I wanted to rip all my hair out handful by handful. But all the tender moments between them made it worth it. Their relationship seemed so realistic to me. And you know what? This whole book just felt so damn real. (Not counting the magic and stuff, obviously, but ya know…) The story, the relationships, the characters, Noam’s narrative! I felt his loss, I felt him just doing his best, I felt his inner battles, I felt how much he cared.

I think the first 100 pages or so would’ve been a lot more confusing if I hadn’t read part of the webtoon beforehand (which was done so well by the way, just like the book) and I was already invested in the characters so the slower parts of the book just flew by.

THAT ENDING WAS SO GOOD BUT I AM SO FRUSTRATED. NOAM!! BABYY!!! NOO. God, I KNEW IT. I KNEW IT AND I STILL TRUSTED THE EVIL BITCH (if you read this, you know exactly who I’m talking about). Nobody is more disappointed with me than myself right now. I was fooled. But I learned my lesson. In the next book, I am trusting no-one.
Profile Image for ;3.
376 reviews756 followers
June 8, 2019
3.5


noam, dara, and that gay shit: 👌💓🌈🏳️‍🌈😘
that ending: 😰😥😓😓
everything else: 🧐🤔🤷‍♀️😴😵
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,335 reviews1,821 followers
March 9, 2020
This is a book that my mind is shying away from being too critical about because it's doing a lot of great things. And yet..

Beyond the representation offered in Lee's characters (one lead is bisexual and Jewish/Latinx, the other is black, I believe), this is a sci-fi/dystopian story that heavily deals with how society treats refugees. For all that this is set, like, a hundred years (or something?) in the future, this is a very timely narrative and I felt the author did a good job of making this less of just a conveniently relevant backdrop and, instead, you really feel the struggle, the disparity between the social classes, which is made more dramatic by the haves, and the locals, being magical while the have-nots, those who have fled their home, are not.

But I found the worldbuilding somehow overly complex, or confusing, and I'm not entirely sure why. It centers around this big event that tore apart the US and left the remaining habitual areas into their own countries, the wars and tragedies that ensue, and along the way we're given glimpses into that history, and particularly the figureheads of that time; one of which happens to still be around, now that he's not only all powerful but also immortal. Somehow Carolinia is the only place in the world where it's okay to be witching, someone who survives the fever brought on by a magical surge (or something.. notice a trend?) and Britain and Canada had tried bombing them, because to hell with magical people, but now.. they don't? But, instead of Carolinia being a refuge for people, they close their borders? And, specifically relevant to the current plot, there's the Carolianians vs the Atlantians conflict, because in Atlantia apparently it's really terrible and toxic and you die, but somehow they make it to Carolinia anyway, but Carolinians want nothing to do with them, and.. I don't know, like, I get what was happening but I also feel like I have no idea what was happening. Even in writing that summary (ish) I confused and doubted myself. I have no idea what's just happened, I think I blacked out.

This paragraph is where I had a bunch more words written that I've since deleted. I mention this to honour their memory. You tried. You tried to make this review work. But it just didn't.

Suffice it to say, this book is doing a lot. There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of characters we don't know if we are supposed to like, and a hate-to-love romance I wanted to get behind.. but only sometimes did. This book should've been a new favourite because of all that, plus a lot of darker and adult themes which made this YA the least YA-feeling YA book I've read in a long time (take a shot for every time I said “YA”) but I found it easy to put down, either because I was bored or my brain was just processing white noise. This should've been action packed and thrilling (and I guess it sort've was in a muted kind of way) and I should've been speculating and making theories (some of which I did, shoutout to my buddy Amanda who loves this book and got some of my reactions), and while I was clearly invested and following along enough to guess some things correctly, to see things coming, I'm still not sure what to do with any of it. Particularly after that ending. I think half the problem is there's so much still not being revealed, or left unknown, and that is why I have one foot out the door on this one.

I can only hope book two has me diving into the feels, and the love, with both feet.

2.5 stars

** I received a finished copy from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

---

This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Natasha Ngan.
Author 7 books3,285 followers
November 30, 2018
My kind of sci-fi: sharp, smart and political, with something important to say about our own world. Lee offers a fresh twist on magic that makes THE FEVER KING feel totally new and unique. I was absorbed in Noam's world from the first page - and was dreading leaving it by the last.

Also: DARA FOREVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
618 reviews234 followers
April 1, 2020
I don’t know why I allow any book ending to paralyze me like this.
Unacceptable.

The sci-fi genre seems to be creeping up on me out of the blue. After reading the Illuminae files, I realized that I’d been missing out on an entire slew of fantastic books. The Fever King quickly becoming one of the hidden gems among them.

Noam Álvaro, a sixteen year old boy, is the sole survivor of a viral magic that killed his entire family. Soon after, he discovers that the reason for his survival was because he is a witching, one of very few people with supernatural abilities. Noam is a technopath, able to control technology or electricity with the proper training. This draws the attention of the defense minister, and so Noam is asked to be taught among the elite witchings.
Son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has faught all his life for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks like the one he miraculously survived. Accepting the generals offer to be taught more about his abilities seems a great opportunity to make change- even if it means woking against the government.

The plotline, when looking back on this novel, was something I struggle to wrap my head around. Where Victoria Lee got the idea to combine a government coup with supernatural magic is beyond me.

Noam, our main protagonist, was exceptional. Within the first couple of pages I was able to connect with him, making this an easy novel to get through. Great characters always seem to strengthen the plot, as the stakes feel much higher once you care about them. With this intense set of events, I was on the edge of my seat. Especially during the last couple of chapters- you won’t catch a break.

The m/m representation -based on reading several reviews- seems to be what drew a lot of people in to this novel. It’s definitely prominent, you’ll get your fair share of a sweet yet angsty relationship, but I loved that the plot didn’t revolve around romance. The bisexual representation was so refreshing!

“I meant it when I said I wasn’t gay” Noam said.
Ames looked disbelieving , but she didn’t pull away.
Noam smirked. “ Bisexual isn’t gay”


I won’t even begin with favourite boy, Dara, because my only feelings towards his character are something like this: 💞💘❤️😘💓💘💞💞
Profile Image for Maddie Browse.
139 reviews1,905 followers
March 1, 2021
I don't even have the words to explain how much I love this book! It is complex and fascinating, utterly mind-bending, and the characters are so layered and interesting! I just love it so so much!! Let's try and get some vaguely coherent thoughts down here though!

Okay starting as always with the characters! This book has one of the most fascinating casts I have ever read! The variety from purely evil through to almost purely good (if you come out of this book believing ANYONE is truly good then you have read the wrong book!) is done so well, and makes for such an interesting read! Noam and Dara are of course my favourites, I want nothing but good things for them both, I couldn't care less that they have done bad things! Noam is great because he changes his view so much throughout the book, but still seems to be so set on and closely aligned with his morals. It isn't until some serious questioning that he even realises how far from his initial viewpoint he has actually moved! Dara is fascinating because we know so little about him at the beginning and then gradually learn more as the book progresses, only seeing such small snippets at a time to build up a picture of who he is! And like many things in this book, it is very much from Noam's perspective so all we know about Dara is what Noam knows, aka not really anything!

That was actually an aspect I loved throughout the book, because there is no omniscient narrator, we absolutely learn about the world and society and everything that happens through Noam's eyes, so we are kept very much in the dark for most of the book! I loved this just from a reading perspective, it made it fun and suspenseful to read, but I also think it was a very clever strategy as it made all of Noam's choices completely understandable, and also made it incredibly difficult to know who to trust, because we only see one side, and a very specific view of everything happening!

In terms of the world itself, I thought the concept was so cool! I love dystopias that have some sort of virus that wipes out a large part of the population, but the idea that surviving it not just makes you a survivor but also give you powers? Amazing! The power dynamic that creates is fascinating! I also loved in this book that Victoria Lee did what I believe every dystopian should, very specific discourse on our own society! The topic Victoria Lee picked out was mainly immigration, but so many other societal issues were also discussed in detail!

I definitely have a million other thoughts about this book, but this is all I can get down for now!

SUMMARY: It is great, so well written and clever and fascnating, PLEASE READ IT!
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