Fever 1793

Book: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Publishing Info: Published by Aladdin; 256 pages in paperback

Goodreads Summary: It’s late summer 1793, and the streets of Philadelphia are abuzz with mosquitoes and rumors of fever. Down near the docks, many have taken ill, and the fatalities are mounting. Now they include Polly, the serving girl at the Cook Coffeehouse. But fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook doesn’t get a moment to mourn the passing of her childhood playmate. New customers have overrun her family’s coffee shop, located far from the mosquito-infested river, and Mattie’s concerns of fever are all but overshadowed by dreams of growing her family’s small business into a thriving enterprise. But when the fever begins to strike closer to home, Mattie’s struggle to build a new life must give way to a new fight-the fight to stay alive.

This has been on my to-read list for a while.  I’m a big fan of Laurie Halse Anderson, and I assumed I would love this book.

But I didn’t.  I’ll admit, it’s strange to be reading historical fiction by Anderson, when I’m used to reading her more contemporary stuff.  And she did set the bar high with both Speak and Wintergirls.

I was bored while reading it.  I couldn’t connect with any of the characters.  They fell flat for me, and didn’t feel like real, living, breathing people.  I felt like I didn’t know anything about the characters by the end of the book.  The setting  was pretty generic, with very little descriptions of smells, sounds, or scenery.  If I didn’t know that it was set in Philadelphia, I would never have guessed that the novel took place there.

However, it is a good introduction to the yellow fever outbreak, and Halse clearly did her research about the yellow fever epidemic.  But I felt like her characters suffered for it, and that’s a disappointment, because creating vivid, memorable characters is one of Halse’s strengths.

I have to give it a 2 out of 5.  It was just okay, and not was good as I was expecting.

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