Author: Deon Meyer
Number of Pages: 532 (Hardback)
Published: 15th June 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Thriller
Nico Storm and his father Willem drive a truck filled with essential supplies through a desolate land. They are among the few in South Africa – and the world, as far as they know – to have survived a devastating virus which has swept through the country. Their world turned upside down, Nico realises that his superb marksmanship and cool head mean he is destined to be his father’s protector, even though he is still only a boy.
But Willem Storm, though not a fighter, is both a thinker and a leader, a wise and compassionate man with a vision for a new community that survivors will rebuild from the ruins. And so Amanzi is founded, drawing Storm’s ‘homeless and tempest-tost’ – starting with Melinda Swanevelder, who they rescued from brutal thugs, Hennie Flaai, with his vital Cessna plane, Beryl Fortuin with her ragtag group of orphans and Domingo, the man with the tattooed hand. And then there is Sofia Bergman, the most beautiful girl that Nico has ever seen, who changes everything. So the community grows – and with each step forward, as resources increase, so do the challenges they must face – not just from the attacks of biker brigands, but also from within…
Nico will find experience hardship and heartbreak and have his loyalty tested to its limits as he undergoes an extraordinary rite of passage in this new world. Looking back as he writes in memoirs later in life, he recounts the events that led to the greatest rupture of all – the murder of his father. – from Goodreads
Fever is a tale of survival in a world destroyed by disease. A vast proportion of the population has died out, leaving survivors to either band together or destroy each other in their bid to forge an existence in this new world.
The story begins with two such survivors – Willem Storm and his young son Nico.
Willem has a vision of a community rebuilt from the ruins, and finds a place to realise his dream, while Nico, still only a teenager, comes to realise that his childhood is over as he becomes his father’s protector.
And so, from an idea, Amanzi, a new community is created.
From small beginnings something with great potential is realised, but there are challenges along the way – the quest for food, and fuel, and threats from wild animals and rival humans who would take all that those at Amanzi have worked so hard to create.
I’ve read a few post-apocalyptic novels recently, I really enjoy them, and while some feature a supernatural/zombie/monster type element, here we’re entirely focused on a human-based story.
This is a character-driven novel and what a great cast of characters. The community is captured really well in the Amanzi History Project, chapters within the main narrative told as Willem Storm talks to the residents of the new community to record their memories and their lives before and after the fever.
Fever is vast, and there is so much I could talk about, but I’ll stick to a few of my favourite characters.
Nico Storm, the boy who realises in brutal circumstances and with anger that his father cannot protect him and that he must protect himself and his father too.
Nico’s shock and rage served as the encouragement for him to change, to move away from being like his father and more like Domingo.
Domingo. Possibly my favourite. Domingo rides into town on a motorbike, is mysterious, doesn’t give much away, doesn’t say that much, and knows exactly how to fight and protect the new, growing community. He doesn’t shy away from battle, and encourages others to see the need for drastic measures, such as attack rather than just defence.
Nico observes early on you can tell he’s a man you want on your side, that he’s dangerous. He’s certainly charismatic and his legend grows with each skirmish. A man of few enough words, who can easily hold sway with the few that he does say, influencing a vote with a simple threat to leave if it doesn’t go a certain way. It’s enough.
Domingo is intriguing.
There’s Hennie Fly, so-called because he pilots a plane and owns the small Cessna aircraft which plays a vital part in getting word of Amanzi out into the world. He and Nico go on a perilous adventure in the quest to adapt and survive in this changed world.
Then there’s the wonderfully named Cairistine ‘Birdy’ Canary, an engineer.
And Okkie, a young boy who becomes Nico’s adopted brother.
There are those who whole-heartedly support Willem Storm and his dream, and those who would question his ideas, which creates tension within the community.
The end was worth waiting for – totally unexpected. I had some ideas and happily they were completely wrong. I love a good surprise or two. Fever is a tale of survival in a changed world, and well worth a read.