Title: Fever Dream
Author: Samanta Schweblin
Genre: Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 192
To put it simply, Fever Dream is a really weird book. When I first started it I was really interested in how it would turn out but at the end I simply felt disappointed. The two main characters in this peculiarly written novella are a dying woman in a hospital bed named Amanda and a creepy little boy named David. The whole thing is a surreal conversation where David tries to get Amanda to recollect the events that led her to this point in hopes she will finally reach an epiphany about what happened to her.
Amanda’s nightmare started when she took her daughter Nina on vacation and met an odd woman named Carla, also a mother. David is Carla’s son but Carla insists he is no longer her child and wants nothing to do with him. David’s transformation seems to have something to do with a decision his mother made in order to save him from death when he was exposed to deadly toxins in water. Amanda is a perennially anxious woman and every part of her is telling her to go back home but somehow she can’t bring herself to leave.
At the beginning of this novella you have virtually no idea what is happening or how the characters got into this situation and I was 100% confused. If it had been a book that was quite a bit longer I might have decided to give up on it right away, but it was short enough I knew I could probably finish it in one night so I stuck with it in hopes that it would start making more sense. I gradually started understanding what was happening and got into the groove of the unusual writing style. There was a lot of creepy and suspenseful buildup throughout the story and I was expecting the end reveal to turn out to be one of those rare twists that would blow me away with it’s ingenuity.
The author withheld the book’s big realization until the last few pages but when I finally got there it was a major let-down. For one thing, there were a LOT of unanswered questions (the level of ambiguity the readers were left with is something I’m *not* a fan of in fiction.) Even the twist itself only made a little bit of sense, and mostly left me going “Huh?” The characters were also very thinly drawn, Amanda was fearful and overprotective but that’s pretty much the only trait she had that stood out. Nina was my favorite character because she was the only one that had any life in her. I didn’t think Fever Dream was a ‘bad’ book and the writing was fairly good, the author also seemed to have a lot of potential, but overall I just wasn’t all that impressed.
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