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Fever    by Deon Meyer order for
by Deon Meyer
Order:  USA  Can
Anansi, 2017 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Deon Meyer is one of my favorite thriller writers worldwide for novels like Heart of the Hunter, Thirteen Hours and Cobra, all set in South Africa. Now he brings us something very different in Fever (a brilliant dystopian translated from the Afrikaans by K.L. Seegers).

The story opens dramatically with a middle-aged Nico Storm saying 'I want to tell you about my father's murder.' He starts his memoir at age thirteen as he and his father Willem drive a truck through a South Africa, where society has collapsed after most people (95%) died in a pandemic. They scavenge as they go, seeking fuel, supplies, tools, do-it-yourself books - and other survivors.

After an encounter with wild dogs leaves Willem badly injured, they hole up in Vanderkloof while he's racked with fever. Pa tells Willem that this is where he's planned to settle. When they encounter violent men who have kidnapped and raped a woman, Willem can't shoot, but Nico does, and takes on the role of his gentle father's protector.

Willem builds, and leads a sanctuary community in Vanderkloof. The author shares many survivors' stories and trials. Folk work together to rebuild some measure of civilization. When former biker Domingo joins them, Nico hero worships him. He's tough, skilled in weaponry, and organizes their defenses. After many more people arrive, including a bishop, tension erupts between factions.

The community survives attacks of outlaw gangs who prey on the weak. They regain electricity and babies are born. But Nico turns more and more from his gentle father to follow the deadly Domingo, and take an active role in the defense of Vanderkloof. He helps rescue the small boy who becomes his adopted brother, and joins Domingo's Special Ops team. Then Sofia joins their community, and changes his life.

So far, it's a regular dystopian, though a very well written one that does a wonderful job of portraying credible feelings and character development in a time of crisis. But then comes an extraordinary twist of an ending, one that makes the reader (at least this one) want to start the story all over again and re-examine every word.

Don't miss Fever. It will make you think hard about what you would do in similar circumstances, as well as about end-justifies-means decisions.

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