Fever Dreams by Samanta Schweblin

Fever Dreams by Samanta Schweblin
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Fever Dream was shortlisted for Man Book Prize International 2017, and after reading this book, I could easily say that it should have won.

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Firstly, the narrative from the first page itself attracts the reader because it is something so unique and written very well. The way the writer made me read the entire book from one person’s point of view but not through the thoughts, but through the words, it was something I hadn’t read before. It is sporadic these days to find a book with such unique styles because usually, everything a writer might try has already been done before.

Hard to put into a Category

Throughout the book, I kept trying to put it into a genre but was unable to. The writing was that of literary fiction as if it was going to leave me with many thoughts to ponder upon. The pace was that of a mystery thriller, and I kept waiting for new twists and turns after every chapter. There were elements of dark horror as well and so, even by the end of it, I couldn’t quite place my finger on a theme. I thought I knew what it was about, but I couldn’t be sure.

The end did give me an idea about what the book could be abutting, but then again, for different readers, it could mean different things. This is one book whose theme itself is open for interpretation.

To me, the book was about pesticides and dangerous chemicals, making their way into our everyday lives, slowly turning everything toxic. As such, it created the premise of an unsafe poisonous environment and a paranoid mother. One can understand what followed.

Different Interpretations

Since the most exciting thing about this book was its characters and narratives, I had one understanding of how this book could have been written. To me, it could have been the story of the protagonist’s seven-second flashback before death, where she remembers everything that had happened in her life, leading her to that point.

Throughout the book, an inner conscience is urging the protagonist to focus upon essential events because there isn’t much time and most of the things it asks the protagonist to focus upon aren’t the highlights but the detail. That may be because the protagonist already knows about the stresses after living through them and must now delve in the circumstances she never paid attention to. There were very few conversations in the book, except the protagonist talking to an unknown identity in her mind.

Protagonist Delirium

Most of the book consists of feverish dreams, thus the title of the book. The protagonist is trying to retrace the events in her past that led to her death, and it explains the elements of rescue distance, keeping a measure of every detail and all other odd quirks that made this protagonist enjoyable.

“The rescue distance is now so tense that I do not think I can separate more than a few meters from my daughter. The house, the surroundings, the whole town seems to me an insecure place and there is no reason to take risks “

The details about the protagonist aren’t precise in this book, and sometimes I think the voice she hears is the real protagonist, and she is a mere puppet.

“My mother always said something bad would happen. My mother was sure that sooner or later something bad would happen and now I can see it with total clarity, I can feel it coming toward us like a tangible fate, irreversible.”

However, it is essential to mention that Amanda is a great mother. She has all the qualities of a careful parent. However, this book shouldn’t be read by anyone who has young children. It will make them paranoid.

Supportive Argument

Its writing supports my theory for what this book’s narration is like. Even the quote “If you focus, things happen faster. Then they’ll also end faster.” kind of supports the argument because if she focuses, she’ll realize that she isn’t alive anymore and that would be the end.

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Now, most people wouldn’t agree with this theory because it is a far stretch, but a book is how it is interpreted, and my way of interpretation makes it attractive to me. There are also some magical elements in the book that I found unnecessary. However, considering that the book itself makes you feel delusional, the author could take creative freedom in adding those elements.

What’s the book about?

The book is a type of a horror story told by Amanda and David. Amanda is in a hospital, battling death. The entire book is written in feverish delirium surrounding toxins and fear. The book is unsettling and fills the reader with such dread about one’s future. It is quite a realistic dystopian.

The most fearful thing for anyone is seeing a child in danger, and there are many such moments in this book.

“Carla, children are forever.”

Something is terrifying about unusually horrifying events entering the regular life of a typical person. It makes people think that if it can happen to them, it can happen to you too.

Short and Easy Read

It is a concise book and could be read quickly and easily, but the impact it would leave on one’s mind would demand a re-read. The first few pages itself would require re-reading again and again, not because it is hard to understand but because it is fascinating. Fever Dream is read like a nightmare, one that you are afraid of because it may turn into reality.

About the Author

Pallavi Sareen is an avid reader, a harsh critic, bibliophile, and a dreamer. Accustomed to telling stories, she spends her time amidst the pages of either a book or her diary.

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