Review: Sever

Sever (The Chemical Garden #3) by Lauren DeStefano
Release Date ~ February 12, 2013
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN13: 9781442409095
ARC received from Simon & Schuster Canada at the Ontario Blogger Meet-Up

Goodreads Synopsis:

Time is running out for Rhine in this conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Chemical Garden Trilogy.
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.

For some reason, I was never dreading the end of this trilogy but I was immensely curious to see how things turned out and how the books would be wrapped up. Fever had a number of big reveals for us, and I was anticipating learning more about those reveals.

The Chemical Garden trilogy is one that has shocked me from beginning to end, and I applaud Lauren's thoughtfulness in writing these books. Yet they failed to completely resonate with me, and left me wanting more from them in the end.

  1. Rhine finds her independence:

    YAY! Awesome. I love that Rhine really has more of an opportunity in Sever to step out on her own, without really needing to rely on someone else (more specifically, without relying on any one boy). I don't think we see enough of this in YA, and I appreciate that Rhine takes the time to step back from relationships for a little while to figure out what her plan is, and then figures out who will be a part of that along with her. (I will add, however, that it takes a while for her to really get into this role, and the lead-in was far too slow. It takes her a little while to break those chains.)
  2. The introduction of additional, fascinating characters:

    I, for one, really loved both Reed and Rowan (how many people in this book have names that begin with "R"?) - I thought they both really added to the story and gave the plot a bit more depth. They both shed a bit more light on the world, and specifically on Vaughn. Plus they change Rhine's perception of people and her situation, and frankly I wish we had seen more of them earlier on in the series because they ended up being two of my favourites. They pulled at my heartstrings, and all those warm, fuzzy feelings (in sad ways). 
I finally realized why this series hasn't resonated with me the way I expected it to though. So much of this book feels very adult-oriented to me, particularly with regards to its themes and issues. I have a much harder time relating to the characters because of this, and as interesting as it is I just feel disconnected in the end.

The very nature of the world is one that forces Rhine (and other characters) to grow up far too quickly; there essentially is no childhood experience. And for that reason, I realized in Sever that I have a harder time connecting with this book and the series overall. We still see some evidence of Rhine's young age, with her conflicting feelings towards other characters. But this has dragged on for so long (the back and forth between the boys (especially), her sister-wives, and even Vaughn) in the series and in Sever in particular that I just stopped caring altogether.

And while I found many of the reveals to be fascinating, the ending felt like it was rushed and wrapped up too quickly. It surprised me, because very few things were left as open as I expected given the circumstances. And frankly some of the plot twists didn't shock me like they should have, because it seemed to me that they didn't have very big of an impact and weren't written as poignantly as the situation deserved.

Sever is a wild ride for sure, full of shocks and twists, and leaves you with a surprising amount of hope considering the dark world the characters live in. I loved that it isn't entirely a dreary experience, and that there can be some goodness found at the end of the all for Rhine and her story. It just lacked the punch it should have had as the end of a trilogy, but the introduction of new characters and an intriguing world were enough for me to still enjoy Sever.


Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

I've been putting this book off because like you, this series just hasn't really called out to me all that much. I'm happy to hear that Rhine finally gets her independence in this book! But some of the characters just haven't really captured me like I want from a book. Great review!

Kelly said...

I was really quite disappointed by both Fever and Sever; I felt like Fever did nothing to progress the plot and Sever took too long to get going! It seemed like I was almost done the book before Rhine got going. I did love the inclusion of Reed though - he was a really nice addition!

Alexa said...

I know people have had mixed reviews as this series went past Wither. I still haven't read it yet even though Wither is on my shelf. I do hope that I end up liking the story and I believe I could really enjoy it since I read a lot of adult books inbetween YA reads and if this is a mix between the YA world and the adult book world then it might be perfect for me.

Thanks for the great review, sorry this series didn't completely work out for you.

ChristasBooks said...

I know I eventually need to read this and finish off the series but I have been dragging my feet. I never really connected with Rhine and had a lot of issues with the story over all. I am VERY happy to hear that she gains her independence in this book and I am curious to see how this wrap up.

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