I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the author for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.
Summary: 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.
Release date: March 1st
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 I should: sickness and death of a child, mention of c.p., murder, blood, gore.