Series Review: The Feverwake Duology

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|Content warnings: Racism, xenophobia, generational trauma, manipulation, domestic abuse, violence, gore, death, blood, rape, murder, depression mention of an eating disorder, mention of suicide and suicidal ideation, loss of a love one, fascism, addiction, ableist language, slut-shaming|

(this is combined list of content/trigger warnings for both books)

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Bisexual Jewish mc, gay POC Jewish mc/li, Jewish major sc, Black side characters, sapphic side character, queer side characters, biracial mc

The Fever King

BLURB

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.

(minor spoiler in review)

The Fever King, the first book of the Feverwake duology follows Noam, the son of Altantian immigrants in Carolina, a futuristic United States (or more accurately a part of it) from when he wakes up in a containment centre after surviving a strain of the deadly virus, Magic, marking him as ‘Witching’ and as the joins the highest ranks of witchings working for the state, Level IV. Set in this pandemic filled state, it follows Noam’s rise from a significantly powerless immigrant to one of the rarest and most powerful witchings, all the while planning the downfall of the government he works for.
The Fever King is a dark and rich novel about the complexities of power, politics and corruption, with themes on racism and xenophobia.
I find it a bit ironic that I read this book about pandemic during one, and that I also happened to enjoy it. The Fever King has to be one of the most impressive books I’ve read since the start of the year. Despite the number of times I was going to be shocked by this book and how prepared I was, it didn’t really hit me until it did…especially Lehrer.
I won’t lie, but the one thing I found most impressive about this novel and the duology in total, more than the themes of racism and xenophobia,was the villain Lehrer and his perfect manipulations. Lehrer is one of the best written villains I’ve read and even if I didn’t love this duology, Lee deserves my respect for writing him. Just when you think you had him figured out, he surprises you.
I guess another thing is that the darkness of the book and the villain more impactful is the main character. Noam is a naive character with an astonishing single minded tenacity. It’s one of the reasons he’s likeable and one reason the book is as intense as it is.
Now to the reason I didn’t rate this book above 4 stars, two reasons actually. Noam and Dara’s relationship is one of my favourite things about this book. Seeing my two precious baby gays (technically only Dara is gay and Noam is bi) together was sweet. While their relationship wasn’t entirely a smooth sailing, it was cute…mostly cute. One of the issues I had is tied to their relationship. Minor spoiler here: When Dara tells Noam he had read this mind, which was I guess inevitable because of Dara’s presenting ability, I didn’t feel right with me. Yes, I understand he can’t resist it and it’s presenting power but it felt wild and violatory to me. The second reason was the ending of the book didn’t seem to fit in smoothly into the book. It seemed more like an epilogue which I guess it’s what it actually is, but it would have been a lot better for me if it had been called an epilogue.
All in all it was a great book. Lee weaves a perfectly dark and twisty novel and I would definitely recommend it.

Rating: 4 stars (⭐⭐⭐⭐)
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The Electric Heir

BLURB

In the sequel to The Fever King, Noam Álvaro seeks to end tyranny before he becomes a tyrant himself.

Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.

Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.

Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life.

The Electric Heir, the second and final book of the duology picks up six months after The Fever King and after Noam has succeeded in helping Lehrer overthrow the sitting government. Noam has become Lehrer’s favoured pawn and has remembered what happened six months ago, but he is still yet a subject to Lehrer’s whim. Noam plays the dangerous double game of working to bring down Lehrer while remaining by his side as his perfect prodigy.
The Electric Heir is literally an extension of The Fever King, but this sequel is much darker than the first book.
Noam, our still extremely naive and stubborn main character — well now, one of the main characters —, is in a huge mess, one he had a hand in creating. Being both heavily burdened with the guilt of the things he’s done for Lehrer, under his command and trying to find a way to defeat him, while wanting him to believe he’s on his side.
Dara also is back in town, but changed. Like Noam, Dara has one main objective to take Lehrer down and maybe reconnect with the boy he loves, but things aren’t the way he left them six months and just like him, Noam has changed.
I feel the most striking thing about this book is the conversations on abuse and healing. Noam finds himself in a predatory and abusive relationship, where he has significantly less power and is manipulated by his partner, and Dara, himself, had once been the one Noam was in this relationship. While Noam struggles with being trapped in this toxic relationship, Dara is currently trying to recover from the effects of it
The Electric Heir talks about hard topics like rape, statutory rape, major depressive disorder, anxiety, alcoholism and suicidial ideation. It’s not a pretty book, its dark, darker than its predecessor and heartbreaking.
While I felt the climax of the book was a little underwhelming, I really did love this book. The twists in plots and the sheer brilliance of the villain, like I said in my review for The Fever King, once when you think you’ve figured Lehrer out, he does something to surprise you.
I loved the resolution of the book. It made me so happy to see the main characters happen, in love and recovering.
The Feverwake Duology is a definite recommend.
Rating: 4.5 stars (⭐⭐⭐⭐★)

Links

Storygraph

Goodreads

Bookshop

Book Depository

Amazon


Have you read the Feverwake duology? How did you feel about it?


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