Grace and the Fever by Zan Romanoff

Grace and the Fever

In middle school, everyone was a Fever Dream fan. Now, a few weeks after her high school graduation, Grace Thomas sometimes feels like the only one who never moved on. She can't imagine what she'd do without the community of online fans that share her obsession. Or what her IRL friends would say if they ever found out about it. Then, one summer night, the unthinkable happe...

Title:Grace and the Fever
Author:
Rating:
Format Type:Kindle Edition
Number of Pages:352 pages

Grace and the Fever Reviews

  • Kevin Fanning
    Apr 09, 2017

    Many books will tear your heart into pieces, and this one does. The difference is that after Grace and the Fever breaks your heart, it gets down on the floor with you and sews every piece of your heart back together.

    If you've ever been a part of a fandom you will EXTREMELY relate to this book. But it's not just for fandom people, at all, and it's definitely not just for 1D* fans. It's for anyone who's ever just loved something, A LOT, and wondered what could ever take its place when you felt th

    Many books will tear your heart into pieces, and this one does. The difference is that after Grace and the Fever breaks your heart, it gets down on the floor with you and sews every piece of your heart back together.

    If you've ever been a part of a fandom you will EXTREMELY relate to this book. But it's not just for fandom people, at all, and it's definitely not just for 1D* fans. It's for anyone who's ever just loved something, A LOT, and wondered what could ever take its place when you felt that love starting to twist itself out of your grip. It's for anyone who's ever tried to reconcile the online and IRL versions of yourself, or felt like the friends in your phone know you better than the people in your life.

    It's the perfect book for this moment in pop culture history, when everyone is obsessed with celebrities, and anyone might be a celebrity. All it takes is one perfect moment, captured and shared, for everything to change.

    It's hilarious and insane and sad but also so, so full of hope. Grace and the Fever reminds you that no matter what happens, it is OK to love things.

    *Many people online will suggest that this book is a thinly veiled 1D fic, with Jes as Zayn, Solly & Land as Harry & Louis, and Kendrick as a Liam+Niall mashup. This is patently false, and to reduce the book to mere 1d fanfic does it a great disservice. It is actually a 5SOS fic. Jes is Calum, Kendrick is Michael, and Solly & Land are Luke & Ashton. Wake up, people.

  • Catie
    Mar 19, 2017

    Here’s the short version of my review: this is a really great book about a girl in that liminal summer between high school and college who becomes unexpectedly swept up with a boyband, the very object of her secret obsession. It’s a book that deals with all the messy, uncomfortable parts of both fandom and being a teenager, and recognizes the power and danger in both. You should read it, even if you're not into boybands or fandom, because the story is compelling (I think) beyond those facets.

    But

    Here’s the short version of my review: this is a really great book about a girl in that liminal summer between high school and college who becomes unexpectedly swept up with a boyband, the very object of her secret obsession. It’s a book that deals with all the messy, uncomfortable parts of both fandom and being a teenager, and recognizes the power and danger in both. You should read it, even if you're not into boybands or fandom, because the story is compelling (I think) beyond those facets.

    But I'm also going to write a long, inside-fandom, thing right here:

    I became a One Direction fan extremely suddenly last fall, like falling off a cliff. Many people more eloquent than I am have written about the bizarre, endearing, compelling world of 1D fandom and all its concomitant conspiracy theorizing, and I won’t try to parse that here. But I will say that to date the most accurate description of how I feel as a 1D fan comes from another fan quoted in

    : “Being a fan reminds me a lot of being a fan of Lost, actually […] Also like Lost, loving One Direction makes me feel like if I can just stick it out to the end — when the band breaks up, maybe, or when the first memoir drops — I'll be rewarded for my time and devotion with a big reveal of major gossip and secrets, or, better yet, confirmation that my own theories were correct all along." That's the trick of 1D: like with Lost, deep down we know we won't ever feel anything but disappointed by what’s behind the curtain. But we crave that knowledge anyway.

    So I was excited to read this book for—among other reasons—the tantalizing promise of Answers. I mean, I knew it was fiction. But I was still interested to see, within the constraints of a novel, which truths Zan wrung out of the colossus of 1D mythology. GRACE starts off as a comfortable, familiar “imagine”—what if an impossibly cute, tragically mysterious boyband member turned up unexpectedly in your life and pulled you right along into his? I'd be lying if I said I never entertained such a daydream, and wish-fulfillment (be it self-insert, or shipping two characters) is a popular trope in fanfic. But the very form—and potency—of fic as a whole is predicated on the ability to continually rewrite and reimagine an ending (and each individual fic often tells you upfront, via tags, which ending you're heading toward, so you can effectively choose your own most-satisfying adventure). GRACE, by contrast, forces you to see a single trajectory all the way through, with plenty of both discomfort and catharsis along the way.

    That’s the word I kept coming back to when describing this book to friends: cathartic. And I think this is ultimately because Fever Dream isn’t 1D. It wouldn’t exist without 1D, sure, but GRACE collages and reworks the familiar character traits and tropes just enough to give us all plenty of fodder to argue about who is who without being able to neatly map the boys one to one. The answers we get then, are satisfying in a way they could never be for 1D, whose own fantastical lore has outgrown any possible reality. In this book, there’s just one story about Fever Dream, which means that—until FD fandom writes its own fic, I guess—there is just one truth. And isn’t that, sort of, the dream.

  • Adrienne
    Nov 02, 2016

    I don't think there's another book quite like this, and I absolutely love it.

  • Natalie
    Apr 14, 2017

    I quite liked this and I'm still trying to pin down why. Gracefully messy, an accurate portrait of the intricacies of fandom, and full of friendships and relationships that are satisfyingly tangled and bittersweet.

  • Book Riot Community
    May 17, 2017

    Grace is a recent high school graduate who is holding on to a secret: she’s still a huge fan of Fever Dream, the boy band everyone loved in middle school. For Grace, the band is still an important part of her life. (She spends a lot of time squealing over it with strangers online.) Then she gets the chance to meet her idol, and she learns the truth about celebrity. A smart coming-of-age story about learning how to move on when you realize the things you think define you are no longer important.

    B

    Grace is a recent high school graduate who is holding on to a secret: she’s still a huge fan of Fever Dream, the boy band everyone loved in middle school. For Grace, the band is still an important part of her life. (She spends a lot of time squealing over it with strangers online.) Then she gets the chance to meet her idol, and she learns the truth about celebrity. A smart coming-of-age story about learning how to move on when you realize the things you think define you are no longer important.

    Backlist bump: A Song to Take the World Apart by Zan Romanoff

    Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books:

  • Emily
    Jun 13, 2017

    This was a really good read, and it's hard to pin down exactly why. But one thing that stood out was how much it liked and respected teen girls, not just the main characters, but, like, as a category. The author talks about girls in this fictional fandom so affectionately, and has their backs without being over-the-top defensive. And even the party girls and popular girls from school who don't have much in common with our protagonist aren't ever put down to lift her up.

    The way she puts some rea

    This was a really good read, and it's hard to pin down exactly why. But one thing that stood out was how much it liked and respected teen girls, not just the main characters, but, like, as a category. The author talks about girls in this fictional fandom so affectionately, and has their backs without being over-the-top defensive. And even the party girls and popular girls from school who don't have much in common with our protagonist aren't ever put down to lift her up.

    The way she puts some really complicated feelings into words is great, too, though it can get a bit telling-not-showing. Grace keeps a lot to herself and guards a lot of secrets in this story, so that's definitely a deliberate choice versus unimaginative writing, and I liked it plenty, but definitely a heads-up if you're not a fan of spending half your time in a character's head. Things get complicated, Grace screws up a lot, learns a lot about the boys in the band, and you get to watch her thoughts evolve as this happens.

    Overall a nuanced sendup of the "omg what if I met the boy band" fanfic wish-fulfillment trope - like, this story will really dig into those what-ifs and the answers are not all fun or predictable. Definitely doesn't require being a megafan of something - I'm not in any fandom really and still enjoyed/understood this - but getting kids-these-days internet culture in general does feel like a prerequisite.

  • Laurenhat
    May 29, 2017

    Grace and the Fever is a pretty good YA book. It’s about a girl who’s a huge fan of a boy band (Fever Dream), a blogger and a tinhat shipper — she believes two of the band members are secretly dating — who then accidentally gets sucked into their world. She finds that all is not what it seems from within the fandom, and she gets to know the bands as people in all of their various complexities.

    It’s also about a girl about to go off to college, struggling with how to maintain multiple identities

    Grace and the Fever is a pretty good YA book. It’s about a girl who’s a huge fan of a boy band (Fever Dream), a blogger and a tinhat shipper — she believes two of the band members are secretly dating — who then accidentally gets sucked into their world. She finds that all is not what it seems from within the fandom, and she gets to know the bands as people in all of their various complexities.

    It’s also about a girl about to go off to college, struggling with how to maintain multiple identities (her secret fandom blog, her everyday life, and then eventually her secret entanglements with the band), worried about growing apart from her friends as they all grow into different people, and trying to figure out who she really is and wants to be. I enjoyed all of these aspects of the story, even more than the directly fannish bits — surprising though that is.

    Grace is not my favorite kind of protagonist, based purely on personal preference; she tends toward the passive, non-communicative, and non-introspective ends of those spectrums. She spends a lot of her time worrying and insecure, in ways that feel real but are not what I prefer to read about. (This prompted me to start an essay I’ve been meaning to write for a while in which I try to hash out what kinds of protagonists I do like, but it’s far from finished, so I won’t share here). I did appreciate the ways she grew over the course of the novel, though. And so, on the whole, I liked her and the story pretty well.

    Some of the things I enjoyed most were the bits about Grace’s relationships with her friends from high school and from fandom, and eventually with her new college roommate — and with her mom, especially toward the end. (Though none of the characters other than Grace have as much complexity or are as fleshed out as I would like.) I also enjoyed the descriptions of how it feels to a conspiracy theorist when not all aspects of the fans’ conspiracy theories turns out to be exactly true. (That’s really not a spoiler; the whole point of her interacting with the band is that everyone and everything is more complicated than she thought. Unshockingly.) I think my enjoyment of that aspect may have largely been schadenfreude, though, after weathering some absurd tinhat conspiracy theories recently that turned my own fandom & ship upside down and made it thoroughly infamous across online fan spaces.

    I was surprised how little I related to a lot of the fandom stuff, given how deep in fandom I’ve been, and I’ve been trying to figure out why. I mean, I’ve even been a fan of singers/bands (though I think it turns out to be different to be a fan of Peter Gabriel, and a shipper of me/Peter Gabriel, than to be a fan of the band dynamics as a whole, and to ship two band members together — and to do so in the 1990’s vs the 2010’s…. very different fan cultures in a number of ways.) And I’m sure I related to all of it way more than people who aren’t at all fannish. But maybe I partly don’t feel a deep connection because the book doesn’t really talk much about how Grace participates in the fandom, aside from a very occasional excerpt of a blog post, and references to watching videos of the boys and listening to their music and obsessing over the meanings of their tattoos. What makes her heart pound the hardest? When she runs (as she does a lot), is she remembering her favorite fanfic plots about them, or thinking about how every line of the music she’s listening to might relate to her ship? When she’s working at her summer coffee shop job, does she imagine the boys in a coffee shop AU (alternate universe), or imagine them showing up as surprise customers one day as she works there? I wanted to see more squee moments, to feel her squee more, I guess, to really “get” her fannish experience and buy into it. I think perhaps to get the most enjoyment of these parts of the book, it helps to be in the One Direction fandom, which this was clearly based off of, because then you can get where she’s coming from with fewer references.

    The other thing is, I’ve never been a conspiracy theorist, or had sympathy for that aspect of fandom. I’ve always found the conspiracy theorists who are buried in their confirmation biases about encoded messages in wardrobes and wallpapers and so on to be pretty unrelatable, and often terrible to other fans, and/or to the creators of whatever they’re fannish of. (And often very smug about it all.) Grace, at least, is mostly not any of these things. But she does talk about "having faith" in the ship in a way that sounds rather religious (and similarly nigh improvable), and also sounds like the conspiracy theorists I've seen. I guess since that’s never been my part of fandom, I wasn’t feeling familiar twinges, and was instead battling some pretty severe judginess. Though I did really enjoy all the authentic sounding “Lolly” (Land/Solly) shipper Tumblr posts and other fan communications that were included in the story for their style, if not substance; I’ve always been a sucker for good multimedia storytelling, and texting/social media in stories.

    All in all, this book was a bit less substantial than I would have liked in a number of dimensions, but a quick and enjoyable read. I'm very curious to hear what any of my non-fandom friends think if they end up reading it, because I at least probably have a lot more context just by hanging out on Tumblr. :)

  • Kim Selwyn
    Jun 16, 2017

    This book was good enough to make me want to fall headfirst back into fandom. That doesn't sound like a lot, but boy oh boy is it!!

    Reading "Grace and the Fever" was like peering into a time warp, staring at myself four years ago and remembering what it was to care so fully about something, about five boys you've never met and never will meet. About what it feels like to know every inch of their public lives, to know their voices so intimately you can pick them out of a harmony like dissecting a

    This book was good enough to make me want to fall headfirst back into fandom. That doesn't sound like a lot, but boy oh boy is it!!

    Reading "Grace and the Fever" was like peering into a time warp, staring at myself four years ago and remembering what it was to care so fully about something, about five boys you've never met and never will meet. About what it feels like to know every inch of their public lives, to know their voices so intimately you can pick them out of a harmony like dissecting a frog in high school science class. Loving something so intensely and wholly is a beautiful thing, and something I miss; sometimes I think life is a little dimmer without it.

    But listening to One Direction while reading this book felt like a love letter to who I used to be. It was tender and confused and confusing, wrought with pain and struggle and loss. Deeply bittersweet, this is a coming of age story that grips you by the heartstrings and tugs and tugs and tugs until you feel yourself fully immersed. Maybe it's just because Grace is a shadow of who I used to be, but I found myself forgetting that the novel was written in third-person. Grace was just so REAL to me, so fully realized and present, that it was hard to remember it wasn't written in first-person. I was so immersed that I literally only stood up from the couch once during my marathon reading session, and it was to help my mum set the table. #benicetoyourmum

    More than just reminding me of little-Kim, this book had SO MUCH GOOD in it!!! Which is why I had to essentially live-blog it here and on Twitter, because I just wanted to TALK about it, to share it with people. There are beautiful discussions of growing up and feeling lost in your own body, of fearing you'll leave your childhood friends behind and fearing the little voice inside that's maybe excited about that prospect.

    There are especially beautiful passages about the importance of viewing people complexly, as real human beings with thoughts and fears and dreams, rather than the public facades they present. It felt like a distillation of Erving Goffman's theories about the presentation of the self, about the personalities we present in the front stage (our public personas, who we want the world to see) and the personalities we keep hidden backstage. Nowhere does this theory present itself more clearly than in the realm of celebrity, and this novel did a good job of exploring Goffman's theories through that lens. Simultaneously, it played with ideas of the Rashomon-like impossibilities of knowing what is "real" or "true" -- after all, as Romanoff says, "Something can be real, and not at all true."

    (Can you tell from that last paragraph that I went to the elite liberal arts school Grace winds up at in the end?! Because yes, my secret favorite part of this novel was all the KENYON SHOUTOUTS, hellooooooo alma mater!)

    And underneath it all, underneath the layers of identity questioning and adolescent love, was this, the true thesis of the book (imo): the immense power of young girls. Girls are amazing, they're magical, they're passionate and remarkable and FULL in a way that sometimes women don't allow ourselves to be. Young girls who latch onto the things they love like a limpet, refusing to let go no matter hell or high water... They're the real heroes here, the ones who deserve to be protected and loved and everything. #girlalmighty indeed

    (that's a 1D joke, if you don't get it. If you're not cool like me.)

    Highly, highly recommended to anyone who's an obsessive nerd such as yours truly, and perfect for middle/high school readers who often feel like they don't quite "fit in" with classmates and retreat instead to a primarily online existence. This one's for you, teens and tweens, and trust me: it's a good one.

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