Sever (The Chemical Garden #3)
With the clock ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed. She takes refuge in his dilapidated house, though the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them.
Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for her future—and about the past her parents never had the chance to explain.
In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.
This is the most likable that any of the characters have been: Cicely has matured, Linden shows some spine, and even Vaughn is a more well-rounded character. Plus, there is almost nothing about the bizarre South Carolina carnival that dominated too much of FEVER. Rhine is not in a drug haze or ill in Sever, so she can be the strong heroine we want her to be. There are also a lot more plot twists and fun characters in this novel.
One thing didn't work for me: Gabriel. While I have always found him to be a bit of a drag, there is nothing in SEVER that would explain Rhine's devotion to him. I didn't really care if Rhine ever ended up with Gabriel, so was not invested in his storyline.
It's sad to end a series when you've enjoyed it, although I am eager to see what Lauren DeStefano comes up with next.
The characters are at their best
A satisfying end to the trilogy
I'll admit this book wasn't as exciting as the previous one, Fever. It got off to a slow start, but then, all of a sudden, I was hooked. I read 70% of the book in one sitting because I just couldn't put it down. I think Sever is by far the most interesting book in the series. There are so many bombs dropped--literally and figuratively. I accidentally read a few spoilers beforehand, but I was still shocked when certain events took place. Another thing that I really liked about this one was that we were finally offered an explanation into the dystopian world and Vaughn's mind. I'll be honest, the worldbuilding isn't flawless. It's not all that intricate, and there are holes, but I found it sufficient enough. There were no glaring errors that got on my nerves or anything. Then again, worldbuilding is not really my focus when I'm reading.
This is also the first book in the series in which I felt a real emotional connection. I actually cried a little in this book! In the past two, I had a hard time feeling connected to any of the characters, but something shifted in this book. Gabriel was basically not in the book, and I have to say, I didn't miss him at all (his ending is one of the only ones I'm not particularly fond of). I did, however, really enjoy Linden's presence in the novel. I wasn't exactly sure how to feel about him before this novel, but he really won my heart in Sever. He was going through a lot and he had a hard time processing the reality of the world he lives in. But the way he cared for Cecily and Rhine, even though she wronged him in so many ways, was adorable. I can't say any more on my feelings about Linden without revealing spoilers, but know that I loved him.
We get to know two new characters in this novel, both of whom I enjoyed. It took two and a half books but finally it happened. We got to meet twin brother Rowan in the flesh. Some people didn't like him, but I did. The way he interacted with Rhine just made my heart happy. Maybe it's because I have always been super close with my brother, but I just adored how much he obviously cared for his sister. Then there is Reed, Vaughn's way less maniacal brother. I loved him a lot too. He is a unique one, that's for sure. Maybe he isn't great with people, I could tell how much he ended up caring about Rhine, Cecily, Bowen, and of course Linden. I wish we got to know him a little better, but I loved the way this story ended for him.
Everyone grew so much over the course of the series. Cecily...Cecily. She has come so far from the first novel, and I hate the she had to experience so much tragedy and was forced to grow up so quickly, but she is such a dynamic character and never dull to read. Rhine is so much stronger and much more independent. In this final novel, I felt like I finally connected to her. She finally let herself feel something other than sorry for herself.
I'm so glad I read this series. With beautiful, gorgeous, completely stunning writing, and a seemingly hopeless world, DeStefano has gifted us a dystopian story that stands out from the rest of the pack. I really enjoyed this final installment. I didn't like everything that happened in it, but I think it ended the way it needed to, and it left me with a fluttery feeling as I closed the book. I'll miss these characters and this world. It was a good run, and I can't wait to read anything else DeStefano graces us with.
The conclusion to the chemical garden trilogy was as happy as it was sad. After recovering in the hospital, Rhine goes to Lindens uncle Reed's house. I really enjoyed this character, and I thought Destefano did a good job showing how much polar opposites Reed and Vaughn were compared to each other. Rhine continues the search for her brother, Rowan, before something happens to him because of his reckless behavior, and later for her search for Gabriel. Cecily did alot of growing up in this book, and I was happy to finally really witness her character fully develop. You also learn more about Rhine and Rowans parents which I thought was interesting and well put. I also liked how in the end, you are left to decide whether Rhine's parents and Vaughn were justified in their actions. That was still a tough decision for me because of the cruel nature of the experiments done by Vaughn...and Rhine's parents...and even though some were crueler than others, you are left to wonder if the ends justified the means. You also learn more about Madame, who is another character who will also puzzle you in the end in whether she is cruel or just sad about her daughter. Destefano did a marvelous job in intertwining all of the characters to each other and in creating a world that is unique and original, one that can never be created no matter how hard someone tries. I finished this book very quickly because I was desperate to find out what happened but not desperate to end. I would have ended quicker but I kept stalling because I didn't want to say goodbye. The ending was very well said and not over done. I liked how no one had babies (any more than they had) or got married....so it is up to you to decide what really happens. Rhine is ultimately a character I will never forget, from her name, to her eyes, to her incredible strength (on the inside) that she has inside herself. It was truly a fantastic book, and an even better series, one that I was glad to read. Destefano is an artist with her words and from within her mind she creates a world so beautiful and heart-wrenching, that the praise I give it will not ever do justice. And did you know that Linden Ashby is not just a character in these novels, but the name of an actor, more notably he plays Allison Argent's Father on Teen Wolf on MTV?
I went into this book emotionally unprepared to say goodbye to the series, but the way she wrapped it up, it was more that I could have asked for. Amazing, and yes it made me cry, only series that I can honestly say that all 3 books,Wither, Fever, & Sever, made me cry.
Considering that lacklustre world-building was a common complaint from readers of both Wither and Fever, it was about time that the issue was finally adressed in Sever. So while I appreciated being given some answers, I took issue with how it was presented; that is, I disliked having all of North America’s history thrown at me in one info-dump speech, given by Vaughan, towards the end of the book. And the worst part was that for readers who were paying attention when Reed talked about things not being as they seemed during the first few chapters of Sever, the explanation given by Vaughan in this info-dump wasn’t even surprising. DeStefano’s use of foreshadowing really took away most of the suspense surrounding North America’s history, and the reasons behind the virus infecting everyone from Rhine’s generation. And while the explanation we’re given explains away most of the most ridiculous parts of the premise, parts that many readers took issue with in Wither, the explanation served only to replace the first with something that was just as unrealistic and unbelievable.
I could have gotten past DeStefano’s weak attempt at explaining her dystopian world had I enjoyed reading about her characters. Unfortunately for Sever, while the characters I missed the most from Fever (Cecily and Linden) are back, everyone is stuck in a bleak and dreary place, making for a very stagnant and tiring read. Linden is trying his hardest to be angry with Rhine, to hate her, so he spends much of Sever blank-faced as he works through reconciling his head with his heart. Cecily has grown up significantly since Wither, and while she’s still hot-tempered, she’s much more sombre and much less prone to outburst – I missed her passion! As for Rhine, she talked – a lot – about her great plan of finding her brother, but most of what she experiences is something that is forced on her, or something that someone makes her do. She was very much a passive force in Sever, and even her voice became one of hopelessness and defeat. While I understood that the last year had not been easy for Rhine, I just couldn’t empathize with a character who truly didn’t care about her own future.
Even my favorite villain wasn’t spared. I remember being truly terrified of Vaughan in Wither, and his influence was palpable in Fever even though he wasn’t physically present for most of the book. But in Sever, Vaughan is just as tired as the rest of the characters. He gives a rather logical explanation for most of his behaviour, shedding new light on his seemingly diabolical plans, which made his scheming, somehow, much less ominous. But his character doesn’t actually change, or experience the kind of development required for me to alter my perception of him. Much like the world-building was just taken at face value in Wither, I am expected to take Vaughan’s noble intentions at face value in Sever, regardless of who he has had to sacrifice or hurt in the process.
And as much as I couldn’t get behind Sever’s characters, I also couldn’t enjoy the writing. Perhaps I’m just not a fan of Lauren DeStefano’s style, but I found it much too flowery considering Sever’s pacing and that Sever is very much a character-driven story. There was too much attention given to what Rhine was thinking during her deepest moments of depression, that even when something plot-related was happening, I couldn’t muster up enough energy to care because I was so bored with Rhine’s bleak outlook and philosophical thoughts about life and death.
So why is Sever getting two stars, instead of just one? Because despite its faults, I still read it in just one sitting. So it obviously had something going for it that I enjoyed enough to make sure it got read. I think that while I didn’t like how the flowery prose bogged down an already slow-moving plot, it was still pretty. And that’s gotta count for something…right?
I got caught right back up into Rhine's world. Cecily is grown so much, and it was quite a journey in Sever to see her develop so much more. She is such a unique type of character, and I can't really describe how reading about her has effected me. She has some heartbreaking scenes in this one, and I didn't know how I would handle it.
Linden is as sweet and generous as ever, if still blinded to what is around him, but luckily the women around him and Reed, his uncle who I adored by the way, help to make him see the world and his father the way it really is.
I love Reed's inventive and curious nature, as well as appreciating him offering his house and protection. The conversations he had with Rhine were great, and I loved his teasing nature. I wasn't expecting him as a character, but he turned out to be great.
Rhine's search for her brother, and figure out the truth or not about what he is saying. She wants to show Rowan that she is alive, and also get some of the answers that he seems to hold about her past, and hopefully the hope that they cling to for their future.
I flew through this and did not want to put it down to eat or sleep, and did so only reluctantly. The characters are beautifully written and captivating. Rhine's emotions and motivations are easy to relate to. I still had a hard time with her pushing Linden away, but I knew that she had to find Gabriel. So, in essence for most of the book, you know until THAT thing happened, I was still torn over who she should be with,and who I would pick for myself. Linden is a hard one to choose though because of the sharing and sister wives deal.
The ending floored me, it was things that I wasn't expecting, hoped against hope wouldn't happen, but there was also hope and good things that happened. I know that it is a good and fitting ending, but I am still kinda in shock over the events, and dealing with some loss.
I can't believe that I have to say goodbye to these characters.
Bottom Line: Bittersweet conclusion to an amazing trilogy.