Reviewed by Janet Walton
Deon Meyer is a South African crime fiction author and screenwriter. His books are translated into 27 languages world-wide and ‘Fever’ is one of his most powerful.
He has written 10 crime novels and this book is a move into a completely new genre. Fever is an epic post-apocalyptic survival novel. Imagine my surprise when it arrived as I had not read the description. This is far from my usual reading matter but I devoured his previous novels so decided I would give it a go. It was a riveting read! It follows a young boy Nico Storm and his father Willem through a post-apocalyptic South Africa.
The story is largely told through Nico’s eyes starting when he is 13 years old and he and his father the visionary Willem are travelling through a largely deserted South Africa in an articulated truck. They survive the fever which kills most of the world’s population to set up Amanzi a new enlightened society where with a hodgepodge of folks they start over. These include Hennie Fly, an eccentric aviator, Domingo, who has a possibly criminal past, and Pastor Nkosi, who eventually spearheads a revolt.
Nico is the child who becomes the protector as the community is threatened by murderous marauders trying to loot their food and arms. He becomes disheartened by Willem’s refusal to see bad in anyone a weakness in his mind and aligns with Domingo a strong brave warrior to build a powerful army. Trying to ensure the community is as safe as possible with the limited resources they have.
This book made me think how strange it would be to live a life with no family, friends, no busy job and especially no technology. As you get further into the book the simple way of life becomes more appealing and I could relate to the characters enjoyment of a slower pace of life.
Meyer stresses how devastation not only ruins lives but can also change them. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes for the worst. He shows how we can find ‘normal’ and what it means to be human in a life restricted by survival. In a way life goes on because it must. Deon excels in developing complex characters in a more intricate South African society. He also brings the landscape alive for the readers.
This is an epic book with an ending that is worth the wait. It was unexpected but also thought provoking. It can also be seen as a coming of age story as we follow Nico through childhood into adulthood with his emotions, loves, hero worship and disappointments along the way. I found myself wanting the best outcome for him but life does not always give us what we want. This story could’ve happen in 2017. It is not set in the future with zombies and aliens. I would thoroughly recommend this book even if it is outside your comfort zone.
Janet is a registered nurse and radio host on Mix Tape Radio International
Another article by Janet is her review of ‘Like Clockwork’ by Margie Orford