Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning

I’m doing a five-in-one review because I finished this series a couple of weeks ago but I was too lazy to do an individual treatment. This isn’t a spoiler, so if you haven’t read the whole thing yet, I don’t ruin anything. I think. I’m not certain I remember most of what happened in any particular book.

Encapsulate This

MacKayla Lane is just a regular twenty-something girl from Georgia. Her interests in life are pretty simple: bartending, dating, and clothes. But when her sister is murdered in Dublin, she becomes obsessed with the idea of revenge. The police in Ireland have done nothing to solve the murder, so Mac heads over there to light a fire under their collective asses. All she has to go on is a frightening voice mail her sister left on the day she was killed. One day she stumbles into a book store where she meets the enigmatic Jericho Barrons and learns that the Fae are real (Fae like fairies, not the sparkle-fart fairies, but the dangerous and powerful ones similar to those found in Irish or Scottish folklore) and that she is what is known as a sidhe-seer (a girl who can see the Fae) and also, her parents have been lying to her for her entire life. Anyway, Barrons, the Seelie, and the Unseelie (not as a cohesive group, they all hate each other) are searching for a relic called the Sinsar Dubh, a book of magic that has been MIA for a while. It turns out that Mac can sense the Book and she teams up with Barrons because he promises to protect her. She doesn’t really trust him or understand his motives, but she has precious few choices.
That’s the synopsis for the first book. The rest of the books are basically Mac and Barrons hunting the Book, finding other Fae relics, killing some people, trying to discover Mac’s actual history, killing some Fae, finding her sister’s killer, trying not to die, then a weird, implausible plot twist and The End.
Ruminate on That
Honestly, when I read about the first book, I thought Meh, this sounds kind of terrible but also maybe intriguing? But then Amazon offered it free for Kindle last year, and I figured it’s not about vampires or werewolves and I like faeries/fairies so why not? The story was just engrossing enough for me to glom the rest of the series from the library and finish them off within 10 days. But in the end, despite some interesting side-plots about the Fae and Barrons scattered throughout, the whole storyline is really character-driven, and since it’s a first-person narrator, the character we are driven by is Mac. This is problematic because a lot of the time, I don’t even like her. Whatever, I don’t really need a sympathetic protagonist. But if I don’t get a likeable character, then I want one who is going to grow over the course of the story. But Mac stays almost the same throughout the entire series. Most of her development occurs in the final book and is pretty much entirely related to Barrons. Sure, as the story progresses her powers grow (sort of?), but she makes the same mistakes over and over. (This is slightly better than her being an almighty Mary Sue, but why can’t we have a main character that is female AND smart AND self-aware AND capable? You know, like many, many ladies that exist IRL?) Yes, Mac had only been in Ireland for about 6 months and had spent the equivalent of 3 months of that time wandering around Faerie but if a person can make it through boot camp in less time with little threat of actual death, why the fuck can’t Mac learn something? She does eventually gain some insight about herself but never actually utilizes most of her new self-knowledge. She also spends an inordinate amount of her time whining about her hair, her clothes, blah blah blah. And I get that she is mourning the simplicity and safety of her past life, but really? She needs to grow up. There are people (in addition to the Fae) trying to kill her, who have killed her sister, and she is sad because she isn’t pretty? Shut up. No, really. SHUT UP. I don’t know, maybe I just feel that this was particularly annoying because I read the books in quick succession.
On a positive note, despite Mac’s off-putting characterization, I thought the writing style itself was pretty good. The whole story is told in that sort of breathless everything-is-happening-right-this-second tone that can be hard to pull off, but here it’s done pretty well. Mac’s headvoice is idiosyncratic in a manner that just feels realistic. Also, there is a dictionary in the back of each book, written as if they are actually excerpted from the journal Mac is keeping throughout the story, that adds another level of believability to the story.
Final Reckoning

ETA: 10/09/2012  I take it back. There are several new novels being published in the Fever universe. Iced comes out 10/30/2012 and sounds like it'll make up for my disappointment. 

ETA 5/03/13: Upon re-reading this series, Mac does evolve as a character. She eventually gains some perspective and maturity, I just think I dislike her so much that it's difficult to see. 

I don’t necessarily regret reading the series, I am just really, really unhappy with the finale. It was so weird that I thought maybe Karen Marie Moning got herself into a plot-hole and there was only one way out, but there was some foreshadowing that says it must have been on purpose? I have no idea. There was only one thing I liked about the ending, but even that was a little gloopy. My final recommendation would be to read the first three books and then find a spoiler-y review for the last two. You could email me too, I will be more than happy to be your reader-of-the-last-page-r. Actually, maybe just skip the whole thing. The more I think about it, the less I want to recommend it. I don’t think the investment is worth the payoff. (But if there is another novel set in this universe, I will probably read it. Ahem.)
The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning

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