CW’s: Violence, Abuse, Death, Suicide, Drug/Alcohol Abuse, Intergenerational Trauma/Genocide*
Representation 🌷 Jewish Bisexual Biracial MC, Gay PoC Love Interest, Trauma
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.
** for a more detailed, longer list see the website of the author!!!
Thank you to Skyscape and Netgalley for providing me with a digital Arc in exchange for an honest Review! All quotes featured are from the Arc and therefore subject to changes.
“That was the whole point. Governments didn’t have to listen to the people until the people made it hurt not to listen.”
✅ I was a big fan of the ‘magic system’. The heart of the worldbuilding are the Witchings, powerful humans that have been infected with a virus that kills almost everyone else. The survivors are left with new powers because they have successfully build antibodies and therefore survived, even though no one has been able to use them to find a cure yet. I love that the witchings and their abilities were connected to science and knowledge, as this is not always the case when it comes to a magic system. They basically have one ‘presenting’ power that they got after surviving the virus and it is connected to knowledge. You need to know about what you do (math, physics etc.) when you use an ability to pull it off. The first, instinctive power is related to what you knew the most of before getting infected. E.g. for Noam it was computers/hacking, which explains why he is a technopath. I found that to be very interesting, especially as learning more about physics etc. can enable you to learn more powers (even though maybe with some restraints compared to presenting powers)! I like that logical system and it really stood out to me as unique, as these abilities need knowledge to function, meaning that you have to work for them. I also liked learning about how witchings are regarded and especially their dark history, where some were used as lab rats to test them out and find out a cure. Even now there are ‘anti-witching’ states that see them as unnatural and dangerous.
✅ I did like the entire setting. The virus that I mentioned before has been a part of a huge catastrophe and I like that we have magic in a bad context: it literally kills most people it comes in contact with because normal humans bodies cannot contain it and therefore mass outbreaks are feared by society. There was also a huge war (including nuclear warfare( that bombed the majority of the United States, meaning that new ‘kingdoms’/states were formed like Carolina (our setting and pro witching), Texas (notoriously anti-witching) and Atlantia (pretty destroyed and subject to massive virus outbreaks) that are in conflict with one another. I also liked that at least the rest of the world was mentioned (something that doesn’t always happen), like Britain, who does not like witchings. I also liked the discussion of immigration that was brought up via Noam, whose parents were illegal immigrants from Atlantia, due to the horrible situation there. Of course Noam also shows us what a difficult situations immigrants are in, how easily they become scapegoats for the virus and how many that are sent back to Atlantia only to die there.
⛔ Still there are some things that I definitely need answers for, because I feel like we don’t completely know how the entire catastrophe took place, as we only get glimpses. I was also confused because it seems like we are in an alternate timeline, where witching have been around in the 1960s too instead of just having been there in the future. That part of the history was a bit vague.
✅ I did think that all the main characters were complex and well-developed. Noam is our protagonist and he is very different from the witchings that he later joins after getting his powers. I liked that we got to explore his outsider status and how being an immigrant and therefore not as privileged as his classmates impacted him. He often discusses wanting to make a difference for his people who are unfairly treated and then blamed whenever something goes wrong. I liked his dedication to his community and how he tried to use his position to make a change. Noam really struggles with feeling like he is powerless and insignificant, so he sets out to do absolutely everything to achieve something better. I liked that we see how doing the right thing can also backfire if you are too narrow-minded and not willing to see beyond your cause. I would say that makes Noam more of an anti-hero in the book. My favorite character however was Dara, who is withdrawn, mysterious and the popular, powerful boy in the group. My favorite type of character really. I liked that he had complexity and wasn’t just the arrogant boy who has everything, but hides a lot more that he has to deal with and cannot tell everyone. I felt really bad for him, as he did have a tough life and a lot of vulnerabilities, that he tries to hide behind sarcasm and closing off. Then we have Lehrer who made an interesting character. He is shown as the mentor type, powerful, a revolutionary and tortured for being a witching in the past. He is an interesting character, that I never fully trusted, as he is good at keeping his emotions in check. It was interesting to see how each of the three characters coped with trauma and their past.
⛔ Sadly the secondary characters were underdeveloped and therefore fell flat for me. While it’s great that we have 3 strong main characters, it’s always important that the minor characters are strong as well and have their own motivation/goal/conflict. That wasn’t the case here. Among all the characters Ames seemed to be the most developed and I see great potential for her to become a more important character in the second book, but even she could have been more fleshed out. Linda and Bethany had barely any distinct personality and no own goal or motivation, which is why they felt more like props in the story than individual characters. Due to the fact that the three main characters are men, we had no female characters that had any significance to the story. That saddened me, as the only important characters here were men. Ames remains the most important female character, but even she was a minor character. I really want her to become more important in the future.
✅ I did like the romance, it was a great slowburn. Dara and Noam are kind of also enemies to lovers, because they start out not liking the other very much but grow closer together. I thought that they had great chemistry, so all their interactions felt real and were very well-written. I totally bought the romance and I think that them having chemistry is so important, as that is what really gets me invested in a relationship! There was a bit of ‘I cannot tell you x, y or z’ going on, but in the end it kind of made sense that Dara could not tell Noam certain things – I totally understood his actions, so it didn’t frustrate me. What did frustrate me was Noam being a bit naive at times and a pushy when it came to Dara’s personal life.
⛔ I wasn’t a big fan of the ending. One of my least favorite Tropes is when we have finally uncovered something and there has been a big revelation (with so many important things FINALLY cleared up) … only for it to be reversed a second later. Due to spoilers I cannot say more, but if you have read the book you know what I mean. It was very disappointing to me, as this plotline stirs up more drama in the next book when we have to do it all over again, which feels very unnecessary to me. I find tropes like this to be very frustrating in the end, as the big reveal should be satisfying to read about and I feel a bit cheated that it was all undone. This also made the ending a bit confusing and messy. It didn’t turn out how I thought it would and disappointed me.
“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.”
Are you going to read The Fever King? What is your favorite book with supernatural powers?