Kim’s Review of Sever (The Chemical Garden #3) by Lauren DeStefano

sldsAs I’ve said before, the third book in a trilogy is usually my least favorite.  This is mainly due to the fact that expectations become so high that it becomes extremely difficult to meet them, if not exceed them.  After reading the spectacular first two books in the Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano, Wither and Fever, I knew that the stakes would be just as high for her third and final book, Sever.

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.

In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.

After reviewing many a suspense/thriller novel over the years, one of my favorite attributes of the genre is the plot twist.  I love a good plot twist.  There was no question that Sever fit in this category, as the plot twists came hard and fast.  When I thought I had a plot line figured out, DeStefano went in a whole new direction.  When I thought I knew what one character would do, a completely different character did it.  More than that, DeStefano was able to make these changes on the fly, making the plot seem like a jumbled puzzle that came together at the last second.  Even though the pace seemed frantic, the plot development was well-paced and the overarching storyline was moving along well, that is until I got to the end.  I felt as though there was enough time to bring the book to a great conclusion, but instead it felt rushed and abrupt.  Although it was the only fault I found with this book, it did put a damper on my feelings upon finishing.  Despite this, however, DeStefano should be lauded for her ability to create such a great ending piece for an amazing trilogy.  You can definitely count me in as a huge DeStefano groupie that will be eagerly awaiting her next series, The Internment Chronicles.  Book one is entitled Perfect Ruin.  Exciting!

4 out of 5 Stars

Sever by Lauren DeStefano
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers (2013)
Hardcover 371 pages
ISBN: 9781442409095

Winner Announced in the Wither Giveaway!

One person has been chosen the winner in the Wither Giveaway!

Congratulations to: Mona who left a comment on March 10th for being the lucky winner!!

Please contact me with your mailing address by Friday March 23, 2012 to claim your prize.  Shipment is to the US and Canada only.

Thank you to all who participated and left comments!

#19 A Review of Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano + GIVEAWAY

Twitter is an amazing resource.  Not only does it allow me to connect with authors and other bloggers, but it gives me an opportunity to find out about books that are creating buzz in the literary world.  One such series, The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano, was brought to my attention this way.  Everyone was talking about Fever, the second book in the trilogy, so much so that I ran out to my local Barnes and Noble (which coincidentally is Lauren DeStefano’s local B&N also!) and picked up signed copies of book one (Wither) and book two (Fever).  Fabulous decisions!

Imagine a world where the lifespan for a man is 25 years, while a woman’s is 20 years.  This is the world of Wither.  A world where a generation was genetically mutated in order to cure cancer.  The offspring of this “perfect” generation are the ones affected by this shortened lifespan.  Obviously, the social impact of this on society is enormous.  Crime is prevalent, women are sold into “marriages” that are little more than outright polygamy.  The population is flooded with orphans, and women are under constant pressure to produce more children to replace the shortened life-cycle of the rest of the population.

Rhine Ellery is one of these women, 16 years old, kidnapped, and newly married to a man named Linden.  Although she would like to hate him, Linden loves her with all his heart, and Rhine soon becomes intrigued by the world of magic and mystery that surrounds him.  To add to this, she must wade through the eccentric actions of her father-in-law, a doctor who hordes bodies in his basement to attempt to find a cure to the genetic problem.  As well as living with the fickle actions of her sister wives, she also must deal with her growing feelings for a servant named Gabriel and her quest to find her twin brother Rowan.  Now imagine dealing with all of this knowing that you have four years to live?  Will she be able to escape her “marriage’ and get back to her home in NYC?

I LOVE dystopian novels.  The worlds that are created within them are so incredibly exciting and captivating.  They fascinate me because of the way issues are raised that parallel current discussions in our society.  In Wither, the discussions bought to the forefront are over what kinds of cells should be used to eradicate disease as well as a discussion about genetically engineering children to be made to order.  Obviously this extreme doesn’t occur in our current society, but the underlying issues of gene manipulation and gene therapy apply in both cases.  These are issues that could spiral out of control very rapidly if left unchecked.  DeStefano does a great job at showcasing the extremes of these discussions, presenting both pros and cons, allowing the reader to decide for themselves which side they wanted to be on.

Besides the fantastic ethical questions that DeStefano raises about the science in the novel, she creates this world that is a cross between a high-tech holograph-heavy future and a dilapidated depression-era past.  It’s a unique combination and was written exquisitely and vividly.  Not only are the settings incredible, but the characters are as well.  Rhine is an absolute force to be reckoned with.  She doesn’t let anything stop her; she’s intuitive, smart, strong, quick-witted, and highly adaptive.  She finds a way to deal with any situation that she’s thrown into.  As counterparts to Rhine, Linden and Gabriel are each a different side of the same coin.  Where one is slightly shy and looking for comfort and love from Rhine (Linden), the other is aggressive and willing to do what he must for Rhine (Gabriel).  They both care/love for Rhine in their own ways, which made it really hard for me to pick a “team” to be on.  (If I HAD to choose though I think I’d pick Linden)

I CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS BOOK ENOUGH.  Make sure you have time when you sit down to read it…you won’t be putting it down until it’s finished.

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my sixth completed review for the Around The Stack In How Many Ways Challenge

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Simon and Schuster (2011)
Hardcover: 368 pages
ISBN:  9781442409057


One lucky person will have the opportunity to win their own copy of Wither by Lauren DeStefano.  Simply leave a comment below by midnight on Friday, March 16, 2012.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Saturday, March 17, 2012.  Giveaway open to residents of US and Canada only. Good luck! 

The February Round-Up

February was a fairly lackluster month outside of the reading front.  I continued with my strong reading pace adding another 13 books to my total for the year! (Currently at 28 for the year which is about 25% of my total goal!!!)  Nothing big has happened this month besides Todd’s skiing accident (more on this later).  Besides our weekly bowling sessions we’ve kept busy with some trips to NYC again this month.  Staff blogger Adam had his birthday this month, so a trip to NYC to celebrate was a must!  Our first day in the city I met up with my sister to run some errands for her wedding.  We had lunch at Eataly which was absolutely sublime.  If you have never been to/heard of Eataly you are missing out 100%.  Mario Batali collaborated with other chefs and food industry professionals and created an Italian haven.  There are sections of Eataly where you can stop and eat whatever your heart desires ( all within an Italian style of course).  Besides all of the munching stations you can buy TONS of imported food from Italy – pasta, sauce, oil, cheese, etc.  You can easily spend $100 in there in 5 seconds flat.  Everything made me reminisce about my trip to Italy this past spring, so you can bet your bottom dollar I bought a bunch of Italy home with me that night.  Before heading out to Adam’s birthday celebration at a bar on the Upper East Side called Off the Rails, Todd and I went to dinner with my sister and her fiancée for our first taste of Korean food! It was delicious and I can’t wait to get it again!  Adam’s party was a great way to catch up with friends from college, and a good time was had by all!  Of course before heading back to Connecticut a trip to The Strand was thrown in.  I picked up some exciting YA reads and was able to get some of them completed this month already!

Me and Grandma!

Other than our trip to NYC the only other exciting thing to happen this month was a celebration for my aunt and grandma’s birthdays!  Grandma hit the big 90 this year!  Very big milestone!

Now as I mentioned earlier in my post, Todd unfortunately had a skiing accident this past weekend.  He slipped on some ice on the mountain, hitting his head and causing a serious concussion, which wound up causing a seizure.  Fortunately besides a shoulder injury and some facial cuts he is doing much better.  He has some follow-up doctors appointments to attend, but we’re hoping for the best.  If you notice his lack of posting in the coming weeks, it’s due to his needing rest (both mentally and physically) to recoup.  He says to tell you all hello though!

On to the bookish front!  I tried to keep my choices eclectic again opting for fiction, historical fiction, and some young adult dystopias.  As always I’m still behind on my reviews (OY). I’m hoping to catch up in the next two weeks.  My favorite read for the month was definitely Wither by Lauren DeStefano. Wither is the first novel in her Chemical Garden trilogy; book 2 Fever just came out last week!  I was lucky enough to snatch up signed copies of BOTH from my local Barnes and Noble.  (I have an unsigned copy of Wither to give away with my review, so keep an eye out!)

As always we have some interesting reviews coming up in the blog front.  We’re taking part in two blog tours in March – one for The Book of Lost Fragrances, the other for Dinner With Lisa.  Besides the books I’m reading and reviewing Adam has some historical fiction novel reviews coming and Charlie is reviewing Steve Jobs’ biography near the end of the month.  Todd also has  few books in the queue once he’s feeling better.  In the coming days there might be a new staff announcement as well!! (So excited about this!)

Anyway, that wraps up another month.  Where has 2012 flown by to??  I hope your February was a great one.  Leave any book recommendations you have below!

As Always – Happy Reading!