The Fever (novel)

The Fever is a novel by American writer Megan Abbott first published in 2014 by Little, Brown and Company. It is Abott's seventh novel.

Abbott was inspired to write the novel by the 2012 LeRoy, New York Mass hysteria case.[1]


Deenie Nash, a 16-year-old girl, has sex for the first time with Sean Lurie, a boy she works with. The following day she avoids seeing her friend Lise, believing that she'll be able to tell. Before she can see Lise again Lise has a fit in a classroom and is taken away. After a second fit at her home where she hits her head on a coffee table, Lise is taken to the hospital, where she falls into a coma.

A few days later Deenie's friend Gabby has a fit and develops facial tics. She is taken to the hospital but is almost immediately released. Afterwards, Deenie goes to visit Gabby at her home with their mutual friend Kim Court and is disappointed to find another friend of theirs, Skye, already there. Deenie begins to worry that Lise and Gabby have been struck by a virus that they obtained while swimming in the heavily polluted town lake and that she is next as she went swimming with them at the same time. Her fears are assuaged when Kim Court, who was not with them at the lake, develops bizarre symptoms and is briefly hospitalized as well.

Meanwhile Lise's mother visits the Nash home early one morning and accosts Deenie's brother Eli, telling him that the boys of the town have toxic sperm and the girls have been poisoned by the HPV vaccine.

Though many parents are quick to believe that the HPV vaccine is the cause of the illness of their girls that theory is debunked as Kim Court begins releasing videos on YouTube where she first announces that due to allergies she never received the vaccine and that Deenie Nash is somehow responsible for the illness.

Police meanwhile begin investigating around the school. Eli sees digging around the bushes retrieving a pair of Lise's tights. He hears a rumour that he was in the bushes with Lise having sex sometime before her fit and realizes that he was mistaken for Sean Lurie. After confronting Sean, who admits he was with Lise but denies hurting her in any way, Eli returns to his house, where he meets Gabby. After casually telling her about Sean and Lise, Gabby abruptly leaves, but not before giving Eli a note where she says that she has been in love with Eli since she met him and that she thought that he was with Lise in the bushes.

Meanwhile, after learning that Skye visited Lise, Deenie goes to her home, where she realizes that to get to school Skye cuts through the bushes around the school. Skye tells Deenie that Gabby was always more interested in her brother than in being her friend and after Skye saw Eli and Lise together she made a concoction with Jimson weed to feed to Lise to punish her. Skye then tells Deenie that she gave Jimson weed to Eli causing Deenie to rush off to save him.

At the hospital Eli shows no symptoms of being poisoned. Meanwhile they learn that Gabby has gone to the police and confessed, Lise has regained consciousness and Skye has disappeared. Gabby admits to poisoning Lise and is given probation but tells the police that no one else was poisoned and she herself was not faking her facial ticks. The police decide the other girls were exhibiting symptoms of mass hysteria.


The Fever received positive reviews. Entertainment Weekly gave the book a B+ grade.[2] The New York Times Abott as "a skilled storyteller, and “The Fever” is a gripping and unsettling novel."[3]


  1. Brown, David W. "Writing of Rage and the Teenage Girl". Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  2. LEE, STEPHAN. "The Fever". Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  3. TENNANT-MOORE, HANNAH. "The Awakening 'The Fever,' by Megan Abbott". Retrieved 10 May 2015.
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