The short blurb bit: The first thing I want to write is that “The Fever King” is going straight onto my list of best books of 2019. Yes, I’m that confident. I read a lot of books, always have, and when I read one that has an original concept … presented in a way that I absolutely love – it makes me a little giddy.
The descriptive bit: The book begins with sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro. He lives in the USA of the future, an immigrant whose family fled outbreaks of a magical virus. Yes! A virus that spreads magic… but the kicker is most people don’t survive. The people who manage to survive the magical fever and wake up become “Witchings” (People who can wield magic).
Noam works at a small store and volunteers his time at a refugee center. He’s a self-taught computer whiz and hacker and uses his skills to fight for refugee rights. Noam lost his mother when he was young and his father is now unreachable… so Noam’s beliefs and his work are his way of getting by day-to-day.
Then everything changes. Very early on in the book, Noam heads home to find his father and neighbor ill. He soon realizes that there’s a viral outbreak… and he has been infected.
The next thing Noam knows he is waking up and being drawn into a very different world. Noam survived the virus. He’s a witching. His knowledge of computers and interest in all things technical has left him a technopath. He is able to sense… and potentially control tech. And the Nation of Carolinia wants him to work for them. Immersed in a new world, Noam struggles to maintain his ideals while learning that things may not be what he’s always thought they were.
My thoughts bit: There are a few things that I love about this book. Let me start with the description of how the “Witchings” use their magical powers. I loved Lee’s premise that magic is based on an underlying knowledge of science. For instance, if you want to master the power of telekinesis you must have an in-depth knowledge of physics, matter, gravity etc. (Trust me when I say this is wonderfully written, I’m not doing it justice in my summation). I fell in love with the idea that even though one could be granted the potential to perform magical acts, that like many other things it had to be learned.
The second thing that I found quite moving in this novel was the relationship between Noam and Dara. This is not a book for readers who want to read about a relationship that progresses quickly and for that I was truly grateful. The interactions between Noam and Dara swing between tolerating each other and being inexplicably drawn together. The reasons for their connection and the friction between them become clear towards the end of the novel, but you know I’m not going to give it away. The way they care for each other is as complex and convoluted as the world they live in.
This was one of those books that I couldn’t stop reading. The end … good GRIEF. I’m telling you, I’m already clicking around like mad on the internet to find out when I can preorder the second book! yes. It’s a series. (If you could see the smile on my face as I type that).
The warnings bit: There are some mentions of abuse (power imbalance and physical), substance abuse (self-medicating), statutory rape.