Book Review: "Fever Dream" by Samanta Schweblin
4/5 - Dream? More like 'nightmare'...
I was initially avoiding this book because I really was not sure about it at all. Samanta Schweblin’s books are normally those that touch on the slightly weird and freakish moments of human nature which are most likely unexplainable. Her books are usually well written and even though they may be a little far fetched, she doesn’t take it out too far. I remember when this book first came out and many people were conflicted about it. I had heard people say it was a brilliant book and then other people sad it was just a silly concept. I did not actually know what the book was about at this particular time, but there were far more people telling me it was going to be a waste of my time in comparison to people telling me that it was going to blow my mind. I would have read the book myself anyway if I could find it in a library. Unfortunately, the aspect of so many people telling me it was bad and then having to spend my own money on it made me realise that maybe, I should just skip this one instead. However, some years later, I have come to my senses and decided to read the book for myself. A character driven story, it is certainly not at all bad.
Amanda is in hospital. She doesn’t know why and she doesn’t know how. Beside her, sits a boy named David - he’s not her son and that isn’t his mother. Amanda’s kid is called Nina. David’s mother is called Carla. David gets sick from drinking horrid water. After this, they think he’s going to die and so they take him to a weird quack-like lady who performs some dangerous stuff on David but in the end, he does get better. However, that isn’t the end. After this, things begin to happen. David has changed, his mother no longer wants anyone anywhere near him. It has turned into a paranoid power play between mother and son rather than the son getting better and the mother being glad about it. Nina wants to play with David but Carla insists that for her own safety, Amanda keeps Nina away. It is a terrifying thing that has happened and yet, nobody can bring themselves to face the fact that something, somewhere, isn’t quite right. After a while of things changing, more things start to happen and other people get sick. Amanda fears for the lives of those involved but knows that in reality, if she wants them to get better, there is nothing she can do. She must visit that woman again. The question is, will she make it in time and what will happen if she does in comparison to if she doesn’t?
The book starts off pretty normal. We get introduced to characters and told what the situation is. It is only a little bit later that you realise that things are really quite off in this story. Nothing really adds up and the changes of some of the characters is absolutely terrifying. It’s a very dark book with a way of showing us the extended metaphor of helicopter parenting, paranoia in sickness and the space left between people when a child is seriously ill. Everything changes in the atmosphere so quickly that sometimes I think the book is a bit too short for the kind of story it is trying to depict. I would have liked more atmosphere, I would have liked more explanation. But in the end, it is the fast paced nature that makes it all seem a bit overwhelming.