Friday, February 22, 2013

Sever Book Review

Rawr Reader,

   So this is my first review on a book in a series. Yay! Lately I'd been reading novels and I thought it was about time I got around to a series. (Though I'm sorry I don't have a review for the first two books Wither and Fever.) I've been waiting for this book since I finished the second one not long after it came out--about a year ago--so I was soo excited when it finally came out. This is Sever by Lauren DeStefano, the third and final installment in the Chemical Garden Trilogy. Here is the synopsis, as always, from Goodreads:

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.

It was about a year ago I was watching YouTube videos and I don't remember which video led me to it, but on the right side where the recommendations for other videos similar to it are there was a video book review on Wither,the first book in this series. 

(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)

    Alright, imagine that you're on a boat on a nice sunny day just a mile or so off the coast. Now, this is the perfect day so the boat rocks slightly to the waves but it isn't anything to make you queasy. This book was like this boat. It's nice, not jam packed with action or suspense or dramatic love romances--that was the job of the first two books. However, just like on a boat sometimes you would be lucky to see dolphins jumping several meters, sometimes there would be some nice moments that would make me be like, I really like what I saw. But it wouldn't last long, and continue on with it's steady and slow story.
    I picked up this book, almost a year after reading its predecessor so I'll admit I can't remember everyone's name, but I remembered the main characters. I still don't know if it's I was excited to see how this trilogy concluded that I found myself reading fast because it was a really fast read. The font isn't large so maybe that might have contributed to it... But I digress. There were moments in this book I wanted to tear at the characters, I just down right, plain hated them--if you read this book you'll know who I'm talking about. But then there would be moments of revelation, where DeStefano would completely twist how I'd view a character and it surprised me that she did that. One thumb up for making me like characters when I never thought I would.
     One thing to note is that DeStefano focuses on the ugly side of life that many don't like to focus on. Polygamy, prostitution, death, dystopian society, young life expectancy. While it isn't pretty and it's rough to read especially since this is happening to a 17-year-old who's been separated from the only family she has left, it makes me realize how fortunate I am in my society. Yes, this is a fictional dystopian future for America, but there are still places around the world that still suffer from oppression or fear of being taken from their family to be sold for who knows what. I think DeStefano constructs an America that is stripped of all the privileges we live with and don't value today, and left to squander for the hope of the future that it would be better than the present. Honestly, while it clearly doesn't include the same sort of action and dramatic romance as other dystopian series *cough* *cough* The Hunger Games *cough* *cough* I think DeStefano actually excels in creating a future that isn't hopeful, yet not hopeless.
     DeStefano was able to achieve what I feel like in my last review of The Book of Lost Things, John Connolly would drag on talking about, which is details. DeStefano would include just enough so I could get sense of the world. And she made the second book far more important thinking back on it, since it doesn't feel as much now as filler story.
   My favorite part about reading was the relationships between the characters. I probably could write on and on about how much I feel that DeStefano accomplished with these relationships. First off there's the awkward Rhine-Linden duo, then sibling Rhine-Cecily bond, Rhine-Rowan, Rhine-Vaughn, and finally the Rhine-Reed relationship. Gabriel, Rhine's true romantic interest doesn't appear but for a small portion of the book which while I missed him, I felt it was smart DeStefano stuck to the emotional relationships of friendships and alliances over the more romantic. Cecily grew to be the character I admired the most-- which is shocking even now after finishing. I don't know if maybe that was because DeStefano spoke about her the most aside from Rhine, but I really saw her grow from the naiive 13-year-old she was two books ago in Wither.  She is still a 14 year old, no matter if she's past halfway through her life expectancy, and she grew to be a wife, sister, and mother and she accepted her responsibilities like a woman. Yes, she was whiny, but she had reason to--being not the prettiest or most eye-catching or oldest--she felt she wasn't important. And with nothing else to attribute to her qualities than the ability to love with her full heart, it would make me worry too, especially if you were in the acquaintance of the likes of Vaughn. Linden is a sweetheart, even though it took me three books to realize it, he truly only wanted the best for all his wives. He was like Cecily in that respect, he just wanted to be loved back the way he loved others. Reed was a comical guy--as comical a character can be in a dystopian novel that is-- and nothing like his brother which showed a nice balance to Linden's family--while he was never mentioned to the best of my knowledge in the prior novels. Rowan is the brother I wish I had. A twin no less, and only living relative to Rhine, her connection to him was the strongest, romantic partners brought into the picture or not, and I really enjoyed reading the scenes between them. They would do anything for each other and how could you not admire that?
   Although, Rhine's and Rowan's reunion was rushed. A minor bump in what I would have found a more heart-melting scene--I had to reread that part several times to made sure I read that part right. It;s been a year since they last saw each other, and while I don't want it to be very dramatic, I wish I didn't have to reread that paragraph so many times. It was too subtle, like DeStefano wanted to sneak that part in.
    The ending, while I won't reveal what happens, is probably one of my favorite endings of all the books I've read. (It takes into account that this was a dystopian series.) I'm still thinking about this novel after finishing the book an hour or so ago, and authors always want that sort of impact on its readers. :) It isn't action packed like The Hunger Games and not centered on romance like Twilight. It's a story of redemption, hope and love (though not only the romantic kind, but familial and companionship as well) and I believe that to be the best themes to set a dystopia on.
    Overall, I admire DeStefano's style of writing-- a simple, slow-paced yet fast, and story-intriguing read and I would definitely be interested in reading another one of her novels/series. I'd recommend this series to those who like to read dystopian novels.

I give this book 4/5 stars. I think as a conclusion to the series, DeStefano did a remarkable job.

Author's Quote:
"I'm wondering if there's any truth to this word I hear sometimes: god. People say it when they're frustrated or when they're sad. It implies that there is something, someone greater than us. Greater than the presidents we used to elect or the kings and queens we used to throne.
I like the idea of something greater than us. We destroy things with our curiosity. We shatter with our best intentions. We are no closer to perfection than we were one hundred years ago, or five hundred years ago."

- Lauren DeStefano, Sever

If You'd Like To Check Out My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower I) by Stephen King

River Song's Spoilers's:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
   Cecily had such a major role in this book I regrettably admit that as I read I was just waiting for her to leave. She was so clingy and annoying and I couldn't understand how anyone could like her. So when she "died" I was sad-- wait what? No, I was relieved when she came back to life, she's too much of a fighter too be rid of so easily. Like I said in the review I admire how much she grew in this story and while I didn't certain moments (when Linden, Cecily and Rhine are in the Jeep and she makes Rhine go to the back since she felt Linden and Rhine were having a moment... or when she just goes with Linden and Rhine leaving her baby behind because she didn't want Rhine to be alone--though also she didn't want Vaughn to take her away) Cecily is a strong soul and was consistent.
    Rhine to me was crying most of the novel. Anyone else catch that? No? Anyhoo, she seemed to always be discontent, even when she was with her brother. I wanted a little more happiness in that reunion. I mean, after the moment of hugging it wasn't as filling as I wanted. Like I said Rowan's return in her life was too quick and subtle as it was but the fact she sort of just said a quick goodbye to Jared then left with Rowan without asking him all the questions she's been wanting to ask for the past year-- ESPECIALLY since at the time she only had about 3 years left to live. If it were me, I'd be constantly asking what he'd been up to as soon as we were by each others side, I mean if they were as close as she said they were.
    Linden's death. Okay, let me just take a step back and relive my thoughts after reading that sad scene. Yep, that was pretty much it. It was sad. I felt while yes it was sudden and I was waiting for him to be miraculously saved liked Cecily was, I felt it was an inevitable death that just became what he felt in his heart. He had suffered so much, Linden has the softest heart of them all. He isn't the one to go guns blazing and duel anyone who dare insult his name or his woman. No, he's a lover and the deaths of his love Rose, and still born daughter and then his miscarried baby (which I still think it's horrible they never found out if it was a boy or girl) was too much and I think in a way he wanted to die. He didn't want to suffer anymore and while I believe he loved Cecily, he wasn't able to handle living anymore. 
    Also I think DeStefano just wanted to kill off one of the characters the reader cared about Linden just didn't make the cut </3
    The cure confused me, because it was one described in very small detail and just didn't make sense what I read. Was the cure basically sucking the iris our of the heterochromatic eyes? And did Rowan and Rhine keep the color of their eyes afterwards? I mean no one said anything about it-- neither did the author-- but I'm assuming they did since she only said their eyes became the color of their pupils so I'm assuming their iris' returned to their natural colors.
    I would like to really express my thoughts about the ending. Okay, DeStefano did a remarkable job in ending this series. It focuses on the hope of a future where it didn't seem to be. Research & labs throughout the country are being destroyed, symbols of hope and prosperity for the young are meant to kill the spirits to eliminate any false hope, but in fact it is with their destruction in the screwed up land of America that makes it justified. They can't be cured by the devastation and chaos of America, only in labs in Hawaii where people still live to natural old age and where the promise of hope and restoration is possible. Especially when DeStefano reveals that Rhine lived past twenty, that hope is still possible no matter how dire circumstances in life can become. The family which made no sense in their world as much as this grew to be a loving one that valued time because they understood the value of it, and that every moment alive is every moment that they should treasure. It isn't something to be taken lightly, and it's something that Rhine and others are not going to take for granted.

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel


  1. I've heard such great things about this series. So excited to see that you read it and liked it! Definitely on my TBR list.