Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sever (The Chemical Garden #3) by Lauren DeStefano

* * * 3/4

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.

I remember Fever felt like such a head trip I wondered how easily I’d fall back into this dysfunctional and creepy world. I didn’t have a problem at all.  No longer a runaway, Linden, unsurprisingly welcomes Rhine back into the fold even if he’s a bit cold or distant towards her. The guy really is too good to be true. He’s angry at her for leaving, confused by their friendship, yet tries to protect her from his overbearing father. Cecily, her sister-wife is also happy to have Rhine back in their lives. They do make an odd family and it gets even more bizarre once they meet up with Linden’s uncle, Reed. Where Housemaster Vaughn is a manipulative, untrustworthy control freak, Reed expresses more personality and prefers you not get in his way.

I really wasn’t sure how the story was going to develop. I was surprised by what I thought was a lack of urgency on Rhine’s part to get out there and find her brother.  It just felt as if she’d lost some of her spark. May be it’s because she’s recovering from Vaughn’s induced illness, maybe she just genuinely wanted to make peace with Lindley and Cecily, who knows, but something just felt off about her staying in place.  But what really bothered me was how many seemingly unrelated events were connected. It seemed almost too convenient.  

I guess I was expecting complications throughout the book because that’s what I remembered about Fever. Rhine and Gabriel were either on the run, caught and held captive or in hiding. So when things in Sever moved at a less frenzied pace, I just felt antsy and cautiously waited for something to jump out at me from the corner. That didn’t quite happen. That being said, I still enjoyed reading Sever. I think one of the best parts of it is Rhine’s eye-opening discovery of who her parents really were.  That turns her on her head and shifts her beliefs.

The Chemical Garden Trilogy has been such a pleasure to experience. Lauren DeStefano has laid out an incredibly detailed description of a world gone desperate. So desperate that it would gamble with its children’s futures leading to such disastrous consequences.  Sever brings to end a very long and hard-fought year for Rhine.  It’s definitely worth the read.  And if you’re into dystopian novels with a sense of the dramatic, or even enjoyed The Masque Of The Red Death like I very much did, then this entire series is perfect for you!

~ Bel

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