Thank you, Putnam Books, for the gifted copy of The Fervor by Alma Katsu. #partner
When I heard that Alma Katsu was coming out with a new book this year, I knew I needed to get my hands on it. The Hunger was such a creepy, disturbing book that I absolutely loved and I had a feeling The Fervor would follow suit.
Set in 1944, Japanese internment camps have cropped up over the United States and Japanese Americans are removed from their homes and considered a threat by the American government. Meiko and her daughter, Aiko, are living in a camp in Idaho, hoping to eventually return home, when a mysterious disease ravages the camp. What begins as a minor cold has victims turning violent and turning on each other. Strange doctors begin to show up at camp and it is obvious to Meiko that there is more to this disease than officials are letting on. Meiko and her daughter team up with a news reporter and a widowed preacher to uncover the truth of what is happening.
What I enjoy about Alma Katsu's writing is that she takes true events from history and adds a supernatural horror flare. The events she writes about almost seem like horror stories in and of themselves (the Donner party, the sinking of the Titanic, Japanese internment camps during WWII) yet they are based on actual true events. I knew little about the Japanese internment camps during WWII until I read this book and I highly recommend reading the afterword to get a better understanding of the different cultural elements of this book, as well as Katsu's inspiration.
The Fervor is a true depiction of fear mongering and ignorance. The fact internment camps like this even existed is astounding and such a low point in our country's history. It is something that I never remember learning in history class. Katsu takes this concept and turns it on its head with a deadly virus, as well as mysterious military balloons that being popping up around the Pacific Northwest. People who come in contact with these balloons wind up either sick with the virus or dead. Told from the perspectives of Meiko in the internment camps, Fran, a curious news reporter, as well as Archie, a widowed preacher who loses his wife due to an explosion caused by one of these balloons. There are also old journal entries from Meiko's father sprinkled throughout the book that add an interesting context. I was on the edge of my seat as I read and really had no idea what was going on, or how these two storylines would connect. The Fervor is a runaway train of racism, fear, and ignorance that leads to a surprising ending.
Personally, The Hunger still reigns supreme for me, but I appreciated the elements of race, hate, and fear in The Fervor . I also weirdly love books that have sickness/virus plotline...you'd think I'd be sick of that by now considering we have been living in a pandemic for the past two years, but part of me finds that storyline fascinating.
(Avoid this book if you have arachnophobia...spiders play a massive role in this book, you have been warned.....)
Content warnings: graphic death scenes, racism
Other Books by Alma Katsu:
The Hunger (click the title link to read my review)