Monday, April 25, 2022

"The Fervor"

Alma Katsu is the award-winning author of seven novels. Her latest is The Fervor, a reimagining of the Japanese internment that Booklist called “a stunning triumph” (starred) and Library Journal called “a must read for all, not just genre fans” (starred). Red Widow, her first espionage novel, is a nominee for the Thriller Writers Award for best novel, was a New York Times Editors Choice, and is in pre-production for a TV series.

Katsu applied the Page 69 Test to The Fervor and reported the following:
From page 69:
She went around the room looking for more. She found it in some places, not in others. Not like dust that floated freely on the air. It was in the bed, under the covers. In the tea towel where the eating utensils rested. Sprinkled in their neatly folded clothing.

She remembered the feeling of the grit forced into her mouth.

And then she saw it: a tiny translucent spider running up her sleeve. Then a ripple of movement on the folded towels as a line of spiders ran, looking to hide in another stack of cloths.

They looked familiar, these spiders. Where had she seen them before?

She had just turned to run and find the nearest neighbor, to warn the others, when everything suddenly spun out of control. Down was up and up was down. She felt like she was being flipped like a giant omelet and now she was lying on the floor and the room was still spinning violently, in a way she’d never felt before. In a way that felt like it would never stop.

Save my daughter. She must not spend the night in this room.

But there was no one there to tell. To warn.
Page 69 is the end of a chapter, and so not a full page. It gives a sense of the threat—strange little spiders where they’re not supposed to be, and because they’re unusual you’re not sure if they’re real or not.

I don’t think it’s a good representation of what the book is about, only because the book is told from four points of view (POV), the four main characters plus journal entries from a fifth character. If you only read the chapters of from one character’s POV, you’d only one side of the story.

This piece is from Meiko’s POV. Meiko is a Japanese woman sent to America by her family to marry a Japanese man starting a business in Seattle (at that time, there were 30 Japanese men for every Japanese woman on the West Coast). Meiko falls in love with and marries her betrothed’s white friend, Jamie. Jamie, a pilot, enlists after Pearl Harbor, and Meiko and her daughter are sent to one of the internment camps. It’s here in Minidoka where Meiko encounters the almost invisible spiders and an outbreak of a mysterious disease called the Fervor.

It is a good representation of Meiko. She’s unsentimental. Practical. She can’t leave the camp, though she’d like to. She worries about her daughter, who seems to be getting more eccentric by the day, resembling Meiko’s own father, a scientist. Her first duty is always to her daughter, not herself, as we see here as she loses consciousness after being exposed to the spiders. She realizes the residents of Minidoka are being used in some kind of horrible experiment and that it’s up to her to save them.
Visit Alma Katsu's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Taker.

The Page 69 Test: The Hunger.

The Page 69 Test: The Deep.

The Page 69 Test: Red Widow.

--Marshal Zeringue