Book Review: Scarlett Fever

July 9, 2010

The questions that Scarlett was asking herself at the moment weren’t quite that dramatic. They weren’t even that specific. What was going through her head was a querulous vibration with a questiony flavor…a general “What the hell is going on?”

scarlettfever1Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson picks up where Suite Scarlett left off:  the closing of the Hamlet show Scarlett Martin’s brother’s theater troupe has put on in the family hotel.

What I Liked

– The book is immensely readable. I don’t know if it’s the prose or what, but I found myself constantly picking it up even when I didn’t have a particular urgency to find out what would happen next. I just enjoyed being lost in the world of the story.

– Mrs. Amberson is a fantastic character. She certainly has joie de vivre.

– Interesting things happened with the characters that definitely make me want to pick up the third book. I’m thinking specifically of the developments with Lola and Spencer (her older sister and brother, respectively).

What I Didn’t Like

– Unfortunately, I don’t really care about Scarlett’s plight for the next book. It involves boys and a love triangle. Blah. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it’s just not the note I would’ve liked to end on for this book. Too many WB/CW shows in my past perhaps?)

– Scarlett has a best friend named Dakota. Dakota is awesome. Dakota is also absent for large chunks of the book.

– Scarlett spends too much time alone being mopey. In fact, the first quarter of the book is her being alone and mopey. This is only okay when people make fun of you for being ridiculous when you’re mopey over a (stupid) boy, which her friends did when they showed up, but then…well, see previous item.

– This book is trying really hard to be about class, but it doesn’t really succeed as a comment on class. This is probably because Scarlett is the point of view character and her attitude and experiences seem much more lackadaisical than if the book were from Lola or Spencer’s point of view. Both of their access to and denial of/from wealth seem much more immediate and visceral. To be effectively about class, the book would have to be from either of their points of view instead.

– This is the second book in a trilogy and it has that feel about it–things are being put in place for the next book, so while stuff happens, it mainly feels like set up for what’s coming next.

In conclusion: I’m looking forward to the third book. For one thing, Scarlett won’t be mopey.  That should help a lot. Plus, I do enjoy the characters and their world, especially the kind of positive chaos Mrs. Amberson creates.

YA Reading Challenge: 23/75

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