After reading Sever, the third and final book in this series, I can say without a doubt that The Chemical Garden trilogy is one of my all-time favourites. Every book has direction and is incredibly strong and each book I've enjoyed equally so much so that I couldn't pick a favourite if I tried. One thing I will say for Sever is that Lauren DeStefano is at her best in this book, in a word her writing is glorious.
Characters old and new are reunited in this final instalment and I felt like every single character became fully developed and we saw a different side to them. Cecily has come on leaps and bounds and has developed into a loving mother and wife and a headstrong, brave, young woman. After the events in the last book Linden finally sees his father for who he is and finds the courage to stand up to him.
The villains in this book Vaughn and Madame are also shown in a new light as we see a more humane side to them. Vaughn in particular is so emotionally complex and I ended up feeling a wide range of feelings toward him by the end of this book. I love a well-developed villain and Vaughn has got to be one of my all-time literary favourites.
The only issue I have with this book is one I've always had with the series and it's that the romance isn't great. I've never really been a fan of Rhine's love interest Gabriel - I was hoping that something would happen to make me love him in this book but with him not making an appearance until the end this didn't happen. Needless to say if you're a fan of Gabriel you might not be impressed by the lack of him in this final instalment. The love story to this series could have been so much more than it was especially when you read the gorgeous love stories between Cecily and Linden and the beautifully described memories Linden shares of his late wife Rose whose memory is brought up often in this book and is very cherished. I just don't understand why Lauren DeStefano didn't take the time to develop Rhine and Gabriel in such a way.
I don't want to talk about the plot too much in this review as it is so easy to spoil what happens. But rest assured that everything is resolved and tied up nicely with plenty of shocking twists that I didn't see coming at all but now that I look back the clues were there all along. I also really loved how DeStefano went into how the world ended up this way in detail something a lot of dystopian authors brush over - if discussed at all.
Overall I thought that Sever was a stunning if brutal conclusion to what has become a beloved series of mine. I loved that the author wasn't afraid to make harsh decisions in the name of staying true to the heart of this series and the book ends on a hopeful and beautiful message. I'm not ashamed to say I wept several times whilst reading this book and stayed up until the early hours to finish it. I'm so sad to say goodbye to this world and its characters and will be picking up anything that Lauren DeStefano writes in the future without hesitation.
on 1 March 2013
I read and enjoyed both Wither and Fever (though the latter was weaker in my opinion) and last night I saw Sever was on sale on Amazon. I downloaded and read in one sitting.
Lauren Destefano is a talented writer. First person present tense is difficult to pull off, but she manages to without bogging the reader down with unnecessary actions and thoughts. This is YA literature, and while dystopia in nature -it also crosses over into literary fiction and highlights human nature and behaviours - what we do to survive if you will.
Sever lost some of the magic for me. The last half felt rushed, the explanations hurried and given the depth we had in the other books, this lightly skimmed the surface of science and the emotional connections between the characters felt lazy. It felt as though the reasons for the virus were never really explained, and nor were the experiments and 'cure'.
The last quarter was terrible. I should have felt pain and sadness, really experienced Rhine's emotions at the death of a character; but instead I was empty. There was nothing.
There are other nitpicks, and I appreciate that this is YA and not 'adult' literature and so not my demographic, but for a professionally edited book (copy and content) from a major publishing house- I expected that house to push the author from 'ok' to 'excellent' with the content and instead I was unimpressed.
For note - I would give Wither 4 1/2 stars. Fever 4 (being generous) and the first half of this 4 - but the last quarter was 2 - so this levels out to 3 stars.
I am however looking forward to reading whatever it is Destefano has in the works!
on 16 February 2013
I can't believe I've just turned the last page in Sever; the third and final book in Lauren DeStefano's Chemical Garden series (sob sob). I was expecting great things from this book and even now, I'm still in awe by Lauren's ability to deliver a finale that was so unpredictable, and one that had such a fantastic and enthralling conclusion.
In this thrilling finale, we see Rhine trying to escape Vaughn's evil clutches and trying to continue her search for her brother; Rowan. But of course, things are as rocky as ever, as more secrets are revealed, revealing Rhine and Rowan's place is more important than ever to finding the Cure.
Sever was a brilliant finale and I honestly can't fault the story one bit. I've always been a fan of Rhine's and this time around, I thought she did a lot of growing up during the story. She realises that the fate of her own life is controlled by Vaughn and while he's in the way, she will never have the life she wants. I've always found Rhine to be a great narrative, I don't find her whiny or boring and I really enjoy her as a character. Sometimes I wish she'd speak up more for herself but she's always thinking ahead and knowing that sometimes thinking aloud can get her in more trouble. One thing I admire about her is her relationship with her sister wives, especially Cecily. No matter how many times Cecily betrays her, they still remain close and she cherishes the time she has with her. It's very touching to see that these two girls came together in a difficult situation but now at the end, they have each other forever.
Linden, my sweet Linden. I do love him so very much. After Fever I wasn't sure who I wanted Rhine to end up with but while I was waiting for the release of Sever, I decided I wanted her to be with Linden (even knowing it would probably never happen). Maybe if they'd met like to two normal people, they could have had a chance at happiness but in a world where all your choices are taken away from you, they never stood a chance. What I loved about them together was they had a deep bond, they clearly loved each other, maybe not in a lover way but still what they had was some kind of love. I never really understood the relationship Linden had with Cecily though (and I'm not just talking about the age difference) there's relationship just didn't click for me, I always thought Rhine was a better choice for him.
And Gabriel again, he's more like a secondary character, the same as the previous books and to be honest, I didn't miss him at all. He's a big part of Rhine's life and the only thing I can fault the author on is Gabriel. He just wasn't what I wanted in a love interest. He's.......oh, forgive me Gabriel fans for saying this but he's just so boring. He doesn't have any sex appeal about him and I think he lacks personality. Least with Linden I had something to root for...and really, Linden had sex appeal.
There's so many other characters that play roles in this series and we're introduced to new characters like Reed; Linden's Uncle who fast became a favourite of mine, and because the characters were so great, it's one of the things that I'm going to miss most.
And the ending; even though I see why what had to happened, happened. I'm still sad about it for one character. I guess I just wanted a happy ending for everyone. But despite the ending, I still loved this book because again, I see why it had to happened. Lauren DeStefano creates a series that is unique and so brilliantly crafted that it's hard not to love it. She definitely manages to deliver a fantastic ending and it's one I definitely won't forget.
on 3 March 2013
I'd read the first two books and found them to be clever, fast paced and full of suspense. I loved them. I truly wanted to love this book. It didn't happen. It felt like the story was constantly trying to get going. Even when key events happened in the book they seemed to fall flat. Yes, some key important facts were revealed but I'm not really sure that any of them helped the story - just tie up some apparent loose ends with little plot. This book could have been the highlight of a great trilogy. I finished the book feeling like that it was a few hours of my life that I can't get back. It's readable, but buy it in a sale or better yet, get it from a library. I wouldn't recommend buying.
on 3 August 2014
I have read the whole trilogy now, finished within a week, book 1 is by far my fave, book 2 was good but felt a little lost & hollow but it did get me excited again to read this 3rd part. come characters are brought back from book 1 which was a relief for me but sadly it still fell short to book 1 :( some characters who were set up in the previous books to be one way were now told what we thought was wrong which was done poorly as having read the other two so closely together it didn't feel right for me, felt too far fetched. some characters don't get a look in & others grow far to quickly, it is a wee bit repetitive on the story, even the fact women dye at 20 men age 25 was mentioned too often for my liking it felt a waste of reading time, the ending left me cold, nothing gone into depth, it was set up far to simple to work out the resolve to the reason why they die young, they go somewhere it made NO sense at all that this other place had no idea that was going off with everyone dying young with no explanation as to why they don't know?!?!? I did like the intro to Lindens uncle he was interesting & was nice for some Linden moments again but all very short lived, it is quite medical, rushed ending, bit twee & happy ever after yet no real genuine details to the characters unlike say book 1 you know her every thought/feeling but didn't feel that in this book. a lot was placed on her virginity & that was not even mentioned to the end either is she dating Gabriel ?? it just left me wondering. shame really but I did enjoy reading them all on the whole but I wouldn't read again :( this genre is always growing so I'm sure someone else will add the sister wives element oh on that note it was not done anywhere near as good as the handmaids tale !!! if you have read it you will know why that book is light years a head of this one.
on 7 January 2014
Oh my goodness. I have no idea how to review this book without wrecking the series for those that haven't completed it yet. I have loved this series from start to finish. I can safely say that The Chemical Garden trilogy is one of my favourite trilogies and Lauren DeStefano has become one of my favourite authors. I shall definitely check out her new book Perfect Ruin as soon as possible. Lauren's writing is beautiful. It just gets better and better.
I loved that in this instalment characters old and new are reunited. Every character seems to become even more developed and we learn something new about them. I still really liked Rhine. I know she's not everyone's cup of tea, but I think she's a great protagonist. I preferred Cecily in this book too. She was more headstrong than before. Still utterly dependent on Linden, but more determined to protect those that she cared about. I really liked the introduction of Reed, Linden's uncle. The `bad' characters Vaughn and Madame are shown in a completely different light in Sever. I think this was incredibly clever of Lauren DeStefano, because it meant that my feelings for those characters became very conflicted. Vaughn in particular, is an intense, complex character. I think he could potentially be one of the most intriguing characters in a series that I've come across.
If you're looking for a series with a good romance then I don't think The Chemical Gardens trilogy is for you. The romance in the book isn't the main focus. (I rejoiced, romances in dystopian reads quite often make me cringe!) I don't think we ever knew enough about Rhine and Gabriel's relationship to really buy into it.
I won't say anything about the plot, as I really don't want to ruin it. I highly recommend that you check The Chemical Gardens trilogy out. It's very different, but beautifully written. I can't wait to read more from Lauren
on 13 May 2013
Sever begins where Fever left off, with Rhine stuck back in her home with husband Linden and sister wife, Cecily after being subjected to Vaughn's awful experiments. Rhine is still determined to go and find her brother, who has been a part of a range of bombings. He believes that Rhine is dead and she wants to prove him wrong. She also wants to get away from the marriage she was forced into and her terrible father in law who does things like stick needles into her eyes. Who wouldn't want to get away from that.
In this book, both new and old characters play a big role in Rhine's life and her decisions. Although not mentioned before now, we get to meet Linden's uncle Reed, Vaughn's brother. What I loved about this new character was that he was so different from Vaughn, who is terribly scary. Reed has been kind of outcast from the family, living in a run-down house with his inventions. Reed's house becomes a safe haven for Rhine but through this, we get to learn more about both Vaughn and Linden, and their lives before Rhine.
Vaughn has to be one of the most well developed characters throughout this trilogy. To begin with, in the first and second books, we see him as only the villain. He does some terrible things in the first books and torture/ experimenting are two of his favourite pastimes. However, up until this point, we have never been able to understand his actions or the reasons behind them. In Sever, we get to see a completely different side to Vaughn which made me have a completely different opinion of him than I did before. I never thought Vaughn could be anything other than evil but there is a lot more to him than originally thought.
Sever's plot spends most of its time answering mysteries that have previously been unanswered. We finally get to find out what the deal is with Vaughn, what Rhine's brother is really up to and we get to find out what happened to Gabriel and also how everything ends. I found the plot to be fast paced and really exciting. The setting changed constantly, which made the story really interesting for me. I liked how there were so many places to see and how different each of them were to each other. Each different setting also gives up a variety of answers and it was like pieces of a puzzle finally fitting together.
One aspect lacking throughout the whole series, and especially in this book, is romance. There have been, and are, romantic aspects but none have ever been enough for me. To begin with, Rhine falls for Gabriel but the passion was never really strong enough. I never believed the feelings that were supposed to be there. Also, Linden is clearly torn between Cecily and his feelings for Rhine but again, they weren't absolutely believable. I would have loved for there to be a lot more romance in this book, especially as everything was being wrapped up so nicely.
Sever is a fantastic end to a really good series. If you haven't read any of these yet, I urge you to. The Chemical Garden world is beautifully created, written and explained. There is so much intrigue and mystery in this unique series.
on 30 March 2013
After having completely mixed feelings about the second book in this series, I was quite worried about reading Sever. After all Wither was an incredible debut but Fever fell really flat for me, I was hoping Sever would be like Wither. Although it isn't as good as Wither it is still a superb addition to the series and a perfectly written finale to a beautiful trilogy. I was so glad to have the answers to the questions that have been nagging me since the first novel, and seeing how they will affect Rhine and her friends. Although I did think some things were slightly too easy or exaggerated. It had its flaws but I enjoyed it nevertheless.
The novel begins right where Fever left off; Rhine is in hospital recovering from the horrible things Vaughn did to her. As soon as she is discharged she wishes to go find her brother but Linden will not let her until she is fully recovered. Instead he takes her to his eccentric uncles where she stays for a while. She soon realises that Reed is nothing like his brother and she feels at ease in his copy. She learns more about Vaughn's childhood and what made him the way he is today. Reed has many things lying about his home and Rhine helps him fix these. Only when she is fully recovered she leaves with Linden and Cecily to find Rowan. The thing is no matter how far they go, her past follows, people she has known both good and bad will resurface. Rhine must find her brother before he does something drastic or before her time runs out.
We get to see Rhine cope more independently in this novel. Before she was either in the house or with Gabriel and here she is left alone with Reed and her mind. Its here she formulates her plan on how to get to her brother and how to stop him before it is too late. Rhine does a lot of thinking in this book and for the first time we see her coming to terms with her short life and the evil Vaughn wants to do to her. She realises that her life will never be safe when Vaughn is alive and I think she comes to terms with this. We see her as a character grow and finally accept the life she is living. She's still the considerate Rhine we all know from Wither and Fever but she just develops as a character.
I still have so much love for Linden and I like how he separates himself from his father and tries to help Rhine on his own. Cecily is a mother now and she goes through a lot of heartbreak in this novel, I just wanted to give her a hug. Gabriel on the other hand was completely absent from the novel except from the very end and even then he didn't leave an impression on the reader. Reed was a great addition to the cast and I loved how he played a big part in the finale.
The plot begins quite slowly as pick up where Fever ended and while Rhine is recovering from her injury. But as soon as they leave get to Reed's things really begin to pick up and it isn't long until disaster strikes. I was so devastated for Cecily at one part and even now it makes me feel so upset and I just want to hit Vaughn across the face. From there things just get worse so Rhine takes matters into her own hands and decides Rowan is their only hope. Answers begin to be told and secrets are unlocked all while the beautiful prose carries the reader along to the finale.
Sever is a beautifully written finale to a unique series. We soon got all the answers we wanted even if the ending was a bit farfetched and too easily fixed. I just don't agree with it. Despite this Sever is a good novel but it doesn't have the magnificence that Wither had. I think Lauren DeStefano is a really promising author and I can't wait to see what she produces next.
There comes a time when you cannot take being teased anymore. I kept hearing about reader's shocked reactions to the ending of Sever (chapter twenty four in particular) and I decided there and then that I had to read the book. I mean, I was going to read it anyway but I have to admit that I wanted to know what all the fuss was about so it got pushed to the front of the TBR pile. You'll be pleased to know that I was a good girl and didn't race ahead to the particularly life altering chapter, I just took my time and found myself easily immersed back into Rhine's world. It didn't hurt to read a few final chapters of Fever beforehand but it is by no means a prerequisite to reading Sever.
You may remember that at the end of Fever, Rhine was back at the house of horrors, being experimented on in the basement by Vaughn. Great. She'd been taken away from Gabriel and Rhine has no idea what's real anymore. Is Cecily really visiting her? Does Linden know what's going on? Also, her twin brother Rowan, the very person she has been searching for throughout the entire series has been found but can she get to him? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? *collapses in a heap*
I can't even begin to talk about the plot for fear of giving something away but it really is a case of `All will be revealed'. Something about Fever that really bugged me was the fact that Rhine continued to wear her wedding ring throughout the book, despite the fact that she had run away from that life. I didn't understand why and it was a question that plagued me until Lauren provided the answer in Sever. THANK GOODNESS. There are some pretty shocking twists to the tale, revelations that will make you curse out loud and a particular incident that will change everything. Lauren Destefano hits you hard in this book and Does. Not. Stop. Until she knows you're down for the count. After reading, I knew I needed time to think about the book and I actually think she depressed me! Evil author *grumbles*.
I have to say that it was nice to see some of the old characters again like "ze crazy Madame" as well as some of the regular's like Vaughn, Rhine, Gabriel, Linden and Cecily. I find it interesting that the absence of Rose contributes massively to her presence throughout the book and indeed the series. For a dead character, she's very much alive in the hearts and minds of the characters and indeed, the reader.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and it may come as a shock to you to learn that my favourite character is actually Vaughn. He is darkly complex and whilst in the beginning I thought of him as some evil, twisted excuse of a man, I came to understand him and realise his intentions were actually quite noble. I loved how Lauren challenged me as a reader and made me change my mind about him. In the end, I actually felt sorry for him. Yes, you read that right.
Overall, this is an explosive end to a great series and Lauren has definitely made a fan out of me. I'm already planning on pre-ordering her next book as soon as it's available. I'm kind of sad to say goodbye to these characters but I know I can visit them anytime I want to.
I've liked the way Lauren DeStefano writes throughout the entirity of her trilogy and again, wasn't disappointed with the delivery of "Sever". I have to admit though that although I found "Wither" to be a fantastically new idea with some really outrageous and brave ideas, I thought she'd lost some of her edge when it came to "Fever". Thankfully, "Sever", this final installment in the Chemical Gardens Trilogy (a title I hadn't understood until this book) is a massive step in the right direction - I loved it.
The story begins pretty much where "Fever" left off in which Rhine is searching for her brother after the cliffhanger of the second book. As you'd expect there's quite a lot of interference, and a bunch of twists and turns, when it comes to finding him because good old Vaughn has got his evil cluthes sunk right into Rhine and her sort-of family. Surprisingly we do still see quite a bit of Cecily (Rhine's youngest sister wife) and Linden (Rhine's husband) which was great because I thought that we'd only get glimpses of them now that Rhine is off looking for her brother. The introduction of a new character in the form of Reed, Vaughns brother, is lovely and refreshing. I actually liked him a whole lot more than many of the previous characters and felt the part he played was completely unexpected.
I was a bit suprised that Gabriel really only gets a bit of a cameo in this book, considering he's the love interest and all I figured he'd get a bigger part but actually he'd become quite a boring, verging on annoying (even more than Cecily was in Wither? Maybe not.) character and I can't see I especially missed his part that much so DeStefano played it well. What was brilliant was the small revisit to the Carnival to see Madame and what has become of Lilac after losing Maddie to her grandmother in the last book. Additionally, it was fantastic to see what has become of the rest of the world and the human population - I especially liked how this was tied in to the lose of a couple of American States and that the reason for this was finally explained.
BUT what we all wanted to know when reading this book was: Is there going to be some sort of miraculous cure? Has Vaughn been conducting all of these gruesome experiments for nothing? Will Gabriel and Rhine be reunited? Where did the virus even come from? And all of those questions are extremely well answered. I can happily say that after turning the final page of "Sever" I knew everything I needed to know...which isn't to say I liked all of the answers.
I think the important thing for this book was for DeStefano to tie off all those loose ends, to give us a riproarer of an ending and to leave her fans happy with the ending of the Chemical Gardens Trilogy. I think that she did just that and I can't wait to see what her next story entails. Read this book!