I just read these two books and they were eerily similar. Almost like Howe and Abbott were hanging out together and this was a writing prompt.
I read Conversion first, and I really liked it!! I didn't get all the answers I wanted, but I still really enjoyed it.
Conversion: In Salem Village high school girls fall one by one to mysterious seizures and other weird symptoms, such as coughing up various items like twigs and other things you really wouldn't be coughing up. Hysteria ensues, the HPV vaccine is blamed, sexuality in teenage girls is blamed, PANDAS is blamed. All of this is taking place while the main character Colleen is reading The Crucible. The reader also gets flashbacks to the Salem Witch trials, which is really interesting. In the end, the reason for the outbreak is simple, but not what you would expect. I really liked this book a lot, especially with all the Salem history in it, fictionalized or not. This book was supernatural, where The Fever is not, however.
The Fever I read afterwards, and I just didn't like it that much. I am a huge Abbott fan, so I was excited, but once I began reading it, it was like deja vu. High school girls suffering seizures and other weird symptoms. Hysteria ensues, the HPV vaccine is blamed, sexuality in teenage girls is blamed, PANDAS is blamed. We are led to believe the cause is one thing, but it really much more simple. And very similar to the reason in Conversion, give or take. I thought this version of the similar story was less interesting than Conversion, and I had a hard time finishing it.
It was odd to read two books that were so alike. I am sure it was not on purpose, but it was weird. Maybe if I had read The Fever first, I would have liked it more, but I don't think so. I think the supernatural aspects and the Salem history made Conversion the better read.