Review: Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin

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📚 📚 📚 📚 📚 / 5

Book Title: Fever Dream

Author: Samanta Schweblin

Date Published: 10/01/2017

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Number of Pages: 192

 

"A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She's not his mother. He's not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family."

August is nearly upon us, and it's one of my favourite months of the year. This summer, I'll be turning 21, and trekking up to Edinburgh for the annual international literature festival. But that's not the only reason August is so exciting. August is also the home of one of my favourite month-long literary celebrations; 'Women In Translation' Month. You'll be hearing a lot more about that from me very soon. I know it's not quite August yet, but I was itching to read this book, and I thought it would be a perfect transition from one month into the next. 'Fever Dream' isn't my first book by a woman in translation of the year, but it's already one of the strongest.

Samanta Schweblin is from Buenos Aires, and 'Fever Dream' is one of the most hyped books of the year; recently being shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. At just 192 pages, I whizzed through this book in a matter of hours. The masterful tension that she creates, constantly building throughout the novel, propelled me through each word at the speed of a freight train. It really was that intense. I know a lot of people found the book confusing, but I didn't share that concern.

It was an unsettling, unique and almost suffocating read. Schweblin uses fever as a base from which to create a sense of disorientation and anxiety that rubs off on the reader almost instantly. I found myself immediately hooked. It has been, by large, my most suspenseful read of the year. The novel is structured completely in dialogue, and I think this technique worked perfectly. Schweblin uses that dialogue to create compelling and complex characters, and through their words alone, manages to create a disquieting dynamic that is impossible to escape. It's thoroughly impressive - especially considering that dialogue is considered one of the most intimidating aspects of fiction writing.

From the very beginning, there's a lot going on. But I found the writing was paced to a perfect degree; you wanted to rush through it, to find out what was really happening, but it was still relatively easy to keep up with the story. I rarely found myself doubling-back to check what I had just read. There are twists, and turns galore, and if you're looking for a book with a cosy, and neatly tied-up ending, this isn't it. Few questions are answered. On the other hand, if you love a good bit of detective work, I have no doubt that all the clues are hidden in there. You only have to look a little harder.

It's dark, and it is surreal. And it's impossible to put down. There's so little I can say without ruining the contents of the book, and I wholeheartedly believe this is a book best dived into with your eyes closed; completely blind. It's engrossing, it's horrifying and it's creepy. If you want a book that will leave you absolutely breathless, I couldn't recommend a better start to 2017's 'Women In Translation' month than this Argentinian gem.