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.
About the Author
Lauren DeStefano is the author of The Chemical Garden Trilogy, which includes Wither, Fever, and Sever. She earned her BA in English with a concentration in creative writing from Albertus Magnus College in Connecticut. Visit her at LaurenDeStefano.com.
Read an Excerpt
IN THE ATLAS the river still flows. The thin line of it carries cargo to a destination that no longer exists. We share a name, the river and I; if there’s a reason for this, it died with my parents. The river lingers in my daydreams, though. I imagine it spreading out into the greatness of the ocean, melting into sunken cities, carrying old messages in bottles.
I have wasted too much time on this page. Really I should be in North America, charting my way from the Florida coastline to Providence, Rhode Island, where my twin brother has just bombed a hospital for its pro-science research on embryos.
I don’t know how many are dead because of him.
Linden shifts his weight restlessly. “I didn’t even know you had a brother,” he’d said when I told him where I was going. “But the list of things I don’t know about you is growing longer every day, isn’t it?”
He’s bitter. About our marriage and the way it ended. About the way it’s not really over.
My sister wife looks out the window, her hair like light through autumn leaves. “It’s going to rain,” she says quietly. She’s here only at my insistence. My once-husband still doesn’t quite believe she was in danger in his father’s, Vaughn’s, home. Or maybe he does believe it; I’m not sure, because he’s barely speaking to me these days, except to ask how I’m feeling and to tell me I’ll be discharged from the hospital soon. I should consider myself lucky; most of the patients here are crammed into the lobbies or a dozen to a room, and that’s if they’re not turned away. I have comfort and privacy. Hospitalization of this class is reserved for the wealthy, and it just so happens that my father-in-law owns nearly every medical facility in the state of Florida.
Because there is never enough blood for transfusions, and because I lost so much of it when I sawed into my leg in a maddened delirium, it took me a long time to recover. And now that my blood has regenerated, they want to take it a bit at a time and analyze it to be sure I’m recovering. They’re under the assumption that my body didn’t respond to Vaughn’s attempts to treat the virus; I’m not sure what exactly he told them, but he has a way of being everywhere without being present.
I have an interesting blood type, they say. They wouldn’t have been able to find a match even if more people donated their blood for the meager pay the hospital gives.
Cecily mentioned the rain to distract Linden from the nurse who has just sterilized my arm. But it doesn’t work. Linden’s green eyes are trained on my blood as it fills up the syringe. I hold the atlas in my blanketed lap, turn the page.
I find my way back to North America—the only continent that’s left, and even it isn’t whole; there are uninhabitable pieces of what used to be known as Canada and Mexico. There used to be an entire world of people and countries out there, but they’ve all since been destroyed by wars so distant they’re hardly spoken about.
“Linden?” Cecily says, touching his arm.
He turns his head to her, but doesn’t look.
“Linden,” she tries again. “I need to eat something. I’m getting a headache.”
This gets his attention because she is four months pregnant and prone to anemia. “What would you like, love?” he says.
“I saw brownies in the cafeteria earlier.”
He frowns, tells her she should be eating things with more sustenance, but ultimately succumbs to her pouting.
Once he has left my hospital room, Cecily sits on the edge of my bed, rests her chin on my shoulder, and looks at the page. The nurse leaves us, my blood on his cart of surgical utensils.
This is the first time I’ve been alone with my sister wife since arriving at the hospital. She traces the outline of the country, swirls her finger around the Atlantic in tandem with her sigh.
“Linden is furious with me,” she says, not without remorse, but also not in her usual weepy way. “He says you could have been killed.”
I spent months in Vaughn’s basement laboratory, the subject of countless experiments, while Linden obliviously milled about upstairs. Cecily, who visited me and talked of helping me escape, never told him about any of it.
It isn’t the first time she betrayed me; though, as with the last time, I believe that she was trying to help. She would botch Vaughn’s experiments by removing IVs and tampering with the equipment. I think her goal was to get me lucid enough to walk out the back door. But Cecily is young at fourteen years old, and doesn’t understand that our father-in-law has plans much bigger than her best efforts. Neither of us stands a chance against him. He’s even had Linden believing him for all these years.
Still, I ask, “Why didn’t you tell Linden?”
She draws a shaky breath and sits more upright. I look at her, but she won’t meet my eyes. Not wanting to intimidate her with guilt, I look at the open atlas.
“Linden was so heartbroken when you left,” she says. “Angry, but sad, too. He wouldn’t talk about it. He closed your door and forbade me from opening it. He stopped drawing. He spent so much time with me and with Bowen, and I loved that, but I could tell it was because he wanted to forget you.” She takes a deep breath, turns the page.
We stare at South America for a few seconds. Then she says, “And, eventually, he started to get better. He was talking about taking me to the spring expo that’s coming up. Then you came back, and I thought, if he saw you, it would undo all the progress he’d made.” Now she looks at me, her brown eyes sharp. “And you didn’t want to be back, anyway. So I thought I could get you to escape again, and he would never have to know, and we could all just be happy.”
She says that last word, “happy,” like it’s the direst thing in the world. Her voice cracks with it. A year ago, here is where she’d have started to cry. I remember that on my last day before I ran away, I left her screaming and weeping in a snowbank when she realized how she’d betrayed our older sister wife, Jenna, by telling our father-in-law of Jenna’s efforts to help me escape, which only aided his decision to dispose of her.
But Cecily has grown since then. Having a child and enduring the loss of not one but two members of her marriage have aged her.
“Linden was right,” she says. “You could have been killed, and I—” She swallows hard, but doesn’t take her eyes from mine. “I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself. I’m sorry, Rhine.”
I wrap my arm around her shoulders, and she leans against me.
“Vaughn is dangerous,” I say into her ear. “Linden doesn’t want to believe it, but I think you do.”
“I know,” she says.
“He’s tracking your every move the way he tracked me.”
“He killed Jenna.”
“I know. I know that.”
“Don’t let Linden talk you into trusting him,” I say. “Don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re alone with him.”
“You can run away, but I can’t,” she says. “That’s my home. It’s all I have.”
Linden clears his throat in the doorway. Cecily bounds to him and ups herself on tiptoes to kiss him when she takes the brownie from his hand. Then she unwraps its plastic. She settles in a chair and props her swollen feet up on the window ledge. She has a way of ignoring Linden’s hints about wanting to be alone with me. It was a minor annoyance in our marriage, but right now it’s a relief. I don’t know what Linden wants to say to me, only that his fidgeting means he wants it to be in private, and I’m dreading it.
I watch as Cecily nibbles the edges of the brownie and dusts crumbs off her shirtfront. She’s aware of Linden’s restlessness, but she also knows he won’t ask her to leave. Because she’s pregnant, and because she’s the only wife left who so genuinely adores him.
Linden picks up the sketchbook he abandoned on a chair, sits, and tries to busy himself looking through his building designs. I sort of feel sorry for him. He has never been authoritative enough to ask for what he wants. Even though I know this conversation he’s itching to have will leave me feeling guilty and miserable, I owe him this much.
“Cecily,” I say.
“Mm?” she says, and crumbs fall from her lips.
“Leave us alone for a few minutes.”
She glances at Linden, who looks at her and doesn’t object, and then back to me.
“Fine,” she sighs. “I have to pee anyway.”
After she leaves, closing the door behind her, Linden shuts his notebook. “Thanks,” he says.
I push myself upright, smooth the sheets over my thighs, and nod, avoiding his eyes. “What is it?” I ask.
“They’re letting you out tomorrow,” he says, taking the seat by my bed. “Do you have any sort of plan?”
“I was never good at plans,” I say. “But I’ll figure it out.”
“How will you find your brother?” he says. “Rhode Island is hundreds of miles away.”
“One thousand three hundred miles,” I say. “Roughly. I’ve been reading up on it.”
He frowns. “You’re still recovering,” he says. “You should rest for a few days.”
“I might as well get moving.” I close the atlas. “I have nowhere else to go.”
“You know that isn’t true,” he says. “You have a—” He hesitates. “A place to stay.”
He was going to say “home.”
I don’t answer, and the silence is filled with all the things Linden wants to say. Phantom words, ghosts that haunt the pieces of dust swimming in beams of light.
“Or,” he starts up again. “There is another option. My uncle.”
That gets me to look at him, maybe too inquisitively, because he seems amused. “My father disowned him years ago, when I was very young,” he says. “I’m supposed to pretend he doesn’t exist, but he doesn’t live far from here.”
“He’s your father’s brother?” I say, skeptical.
“Just think about it,” Linden says. “He’s a little strange, but Rose liked him.” He says that last part with a laugh, and his cheeks light up with pink, and I strangely feel better.
“She met him?” I ask.
“Just once,” Linden says. “We were on our way to a party, and she leaned over the driver’s seat and said, ‘I’m sick of these boring things. Take us anywhere else.’ So I gave the driver my uncle’s address, and we spent the evening there, eating the worst coffee crumb cake we’d ever tasted.”
It’s the first time since her death that he’s brought up Rose without wincing at the pain.
“And the fact that my father hates him just made my uncle that much more appealing to her,” Linden goes on. “He’s too pro-naturalism for my father’s taste, and admittedly a little strange. I’ve had to keep it a secret that I visit with him.”
Linden has a rebellious side. Who knew. He reaches out and tucks my hair behind my ear. It’s done out of habit, and he jerks his hand back when he realizes his mistake.
“Sorry,” he mumbles.
“It’s all right,” I say. “I’ll think about it.” My words are coming out fast, bumbling. “What you said— I mean— I’ll think about it.”
Reading Group Guide
A Reading Group Guide to
By Lauren DeStefano
1. To what extent would you go to save a loved one?
2. What does the title of the final book in DeStefano’s Chemical Garden Trilogy suggest about the plot?
1. When the story opens, Rhine is in the hospital and is being visited by her husband, Linden, and her sister wife, Cecily. Why is she in the hospital?
2. Who is Reed and why does Linden suggest Rhine stay with him for a while?
3. Compare and contrast Cecily’s relationship with Linden and Rhine’s relationship with him. Would you say, or do you think, that Rhine is jealous of Cecily?
4. Is Cecily a good mother? Why or why not? Support your answer with evidence from the text.
5. Describe Reed’s house and the mood the description evokes in the reader. Identify words in the story that the writer uses to create this mood.
6. How does Reed’s house contrast with Vaughn’s house? How does this contrast contribute to the mood?
7. What role does Reed’s airplane play in the story?
8. Why does Vaughn come for Cecily? What power does Vaughn hold over her?
9. Why do Linden and Rhine rush Cecily to the hospital? How does the author create tension in this scene? Identify passages and/or dialogue that help build this tension.
10. Why does Reed wonder if Vaughn knows that the Ellerys are Rhine’s parents? How does he assist Rhine?
11. What does Rhine learn about her brother? Why is she unsettled by his work? Why does she decide that she has to find him?
12. How does Linden’s attitude toward his father change and why?
13. Linden, Cecily, and Rhine pass through Madame’s carnival on their way to find Rowan. When they are taken to Madame, what do they learn about her connection with Linden and Rose? How does the writer create a more sympathetic character in Madame in the final volume of the trilogy?
14. How does Rhine find her brother? Describe the scene in which they first come together. How does the author use dialogue to evoke emotion when they reunite?
15. What surprise is in store for Rhine when she is reunited with her brother? How does she manage the shock?
16. Where does Vaughn fly Rhine and Rowan? Why? What does Rhine discover about this place?
17. Why does Rhine return to the mansion with Vaughn? What does she learn about Gabriel?
18. Why does Cecily believe that Vaughn plans to murder her?
19. After Rhine learns the truth about Vaughn and his relationship with Rowan, Rowan says to her, “I’ve always worried about you. It’s dangerous to become attached to anyone in our world. To trust anyone.” Does this statement accurately describe Rhine? Why or why not? Is Rowan as stoic as he presents himself? Support your answer with evidence from the text.
20. How are Rhine and Gabriel reunited?
Questions for Further Discussion
1. In the first two books in the Chemical Garden Trilogy, Vaughn is determined to keep Rhine prisoner and/or hunt her down. How does he change in the third installment? What contributes to this change? For what reason does the author make this change?
2. When Rhine learns that her brother is still alive, she insists on finding him. How has he changed since they were separated? How has Rhine changed? Are they able to reconcile their torn relationship?
3. How does Linden feel about Rhine? Is the feeling mutual? Explain. How is Linden similar to and different from his father?
4. What happens to Linden? How does Rhine deal with this loss?
5. DeStefano uses imagery to create a dystopian world. Identify two examples of strong imagery and explain what they contribute to the story.
6. By the end of the trilogy, the reader gains a clearer understanding of Vaughn’s scientific mission. Is Vaughn good or evil? Explain and support your answer with evidence from the text.
7. How does Cecily grow throughout the story? What contributes to her maturity? How do her feelings change toward Vaughn and why?
8. Does Vaughn love his son and grandson? Support your answer with textual evidence. Does the story have a satisfying ending? Why or why not?
9. What does Rhine learn about her parents and how does this information change her?
Guide written by Pam B. Cole, Professor of English Education & Literacy Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA
This guide, written to align with the Common Core State Standards (www.corestandards.org) has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I for one loved the first and second books. I found them to be beautiful and well wriiten, Heart wretching and bitter sweet! This one however, was disapointing to me. I felt the book to be a bit boring and anti-climactic. Nothing happened the whole time and I feel cheated. I feel as though Rhines has taken 3 steps backwards. The whole time i was reading this book I just kept thinking "been here done this". SPOILER ALERT*** her big reunion with Rowan wasnt even big, not to mention Gabriel is in the book a total of five pages. The ending is also just thrown together and it all happens very hastily and unvonvincingly. Also it turns out the 'villian' in the previous books isnt really too much of a villan at all. And her parents who I once admired her relationship with, I found myself hating. I do not regret reading this book because I needed to know how Rhines story ended, I do however regret getting so caught up in this series only to have it end like that.
I had been waiting for this book for a while. So glad that I finally got it! Although, the roles of certain characters surprised me. I'm sure that I'll be suffering from a bad case of book hangover (the inability to leave a book's world and move on with your life) for a while. All in all, it was a great ending to a wonderful trilogy!
I finally found the effort to write up a review of this novel and all I can come up with is I dont know. The whole story seemed interesting, and surreal. Women die at 20, men at 25. Humankind is desperately searching for a cure that makes their lives end as soon as it really begins. Riveting premise huh. The first novel was good. The second novel, okay. The third....not so great. I can see how people love the trilogy. The writing is beautiful and the world itself captivating but I just couldnt get into it. I feel that after the first novel everything just went from there. Do you notice how everything just goes in circles and Rhine always ended up back at the places and with the people she was running from? She ran from the mansion only to end up back there. She ran from Madamme only to end up back in her clutches. She ran from Linden only to end up back with him and she ran from Vaughn only to end up consenting to be around him. Maybe it was supposed to be like that. Maybe it was a lesson that you cant run away from your problems but to me, it was annoying. Then there is the romance. It's a strange thing in this novel. I cant really tell whose love is real. I know for a fact Linden loves Cecily and Rhine and that Cecily loves him back but who does Rhine love? She loves her brother but who else? People say they love Rhine and Gabriel together but I dont think they love each other. Why did he even run with her in the first place? He wasnt facing a threat and they werent that much in love yet. During the third book Gabriel is mentioned so little and when he is mentioned, you dont get a hint of Rhine having any fierce longing for him or anything. Its just "oh I wonder if Gabriel is okay" and then she moves on to the next thought. Psh. Love, my ass. There was barely any action in this one and I felt that DeStefano just caused that specific death to have something shocking in the end and because she didnt know what to do with his character. Better to just get him out of the way. It was shocking though, and abrupt and uncalled for but whatever. It didnt make me sad anyway. I never did care for him that much. The real shocker was Rhine's parents' notes and what were written in them. That added an even more sad note to the already depressing novel. Anyway, I wouldnt recommend this to anyone, sorry. Just not good enough. If you want to read it, borrow it from the library.
While i love the series i felt the ending was abrupt and dissapointing*
My Rating: 1.5 Stars It was hard for me, at first, to figure out why everyone seems to love the second and third books in these series and the first one got awful reviews. Because, to me, all three of them were pretty awful. Then it hit me. The first book was so bad, that only the diehard fans read the sequels. And then me. The writing in these books is beautiful. If Lauren DeStefano wanted to write a sappy romance novel, she would probably hit it off pretty big. The thing that brings these books down to the level that they are is that there is absolutely no believability in this world. A dystopian future where girls die at 20 and boys die at 25 (exactly). On their 20th and 25th birthdays respectively, their body somehow succumbs to a virus that kills them. This is just so ridiculous. Maybe if they had been suffering from this virus their whole lives, and then around that age their body's normally gave way, but it can't be exactly. You can't live to be 19 years and 364 days old and then drop dead from a disease. These books also feature polygamy. I didn't find this part so hard to read, like over reviewers. The thing that stunned me about this was that we are expected to believe that in this day and age, we have digressed enough to the point where, once again, men are considered the superior gender and women are only useful for child-bearing. We are supposed to believe that women just sat down and took this and didn't fight it at all. The biggest fault of believability in these novels was the idea that North America was the only continent left in existence. The polar ice caps melting and World War 3 has left everyone but NA underwater. First, the main part of the novel takes place in Florida. If this were true, Florida would be one of the first areas in North America to sink. Secondly, what happened to the higher altitudes? The Alps just sunk underwater? North America is still on the surface while Sweden is at the bottom of the ocean? Seriously? Now I know this whole North America being the only thing left thing is explained away by the end of the series, but the fact that so many reviewers didn't believe it leads me to believe that maybe, just maybe, the Americans wouldn't believe it either. Maybe some people in America aren't so gullible that they'll let their president take away their history books and replace them with his own ideas? Maybe some people in America aren't so gullible as to blindly believe that North America is the only place left standing? Maybe, just maybe, all American's aren't complete idiots. The one other quam I had with these books was that each book took one step forward and two steps back. In the first book, it took Rhine the entire novel (and the timeframe of a year) to finally escape. That time was filled with images of pretty wives, dresses, candies. In the second book, Rhine finally escapes and by the end, ends up exactly where she started. In the third book, she escapes again, and once again, ends up exactly where she started. These books are less about Rhine's adventures and more about her changing her mind and not doing the things she is so set on doing. This is not a post-apocalyptic adventure, it is a distorted vision of a gifted author's sad fantasy.
Good ending to a good trilogy. I read this in one day. I didn't put it down from 7 AM, through school, after school (who needs homework), and during dance. I was afriad it would have a bad ending but it was very good. I was a little sad by some of the things that happened, and I think everyone was sad, but great ending. I am hoping for a new series, sequel series, or an ebook from, hmm, maybe Gabriel's or Rowen's POV!
This book did not turn out how i wanted it to, but i refuse to give it less than five stars. Lauren Destefano has ended her trilogy with a bang. After reading the entire book in one sitting, an explosion of emotions hit me. I will never fully stop living in the world of Rhine Ellery. Characters died, new ones were introduced. With the death of an important one, i found my grief the same. Ms. Destefano has a way with words, i will tell you that. One of the best books in the world, a trilogy that ended far from perfect. Yet, oddly beautiful.
First of all, I love Lauren deStefano's prose in the entire Chemical Garden Trilogy. She definitely paints a vivid world and provides great metaphors and analogies in all three of her books. i had mixed feelings about the main character. I preferred her in the 2nd book. I felt her too placid to be considered a realistic teenager (i.e never shows any outward signs of emotion even after being kidnapped and seeing girls gunned down in the street). Cecily became my favorite character, and she showed the most growth through the Trilogy. Agree with Equizotic where he/she states that Rhine ended up right back where she came from. some things about the world were unbelievable. I did enjoy the scenes where Rhine made connections with people on the outside like Madame and Uncle Reed. I preferred those over the interaction between her and Linden, which felt very forced, and i didn't appreciate her willingness to take the blame and self loathing in the 3rd book even though she was forced to marry him and his father experimented on her after giving her a virus. She is not a particularly strong heroine who stands up for herself, but she is compelling in other ways simply because of how she sees the world and those other connections she makes other than Linden ie Gabriel or Cecily. it is an emotional and tough subject to wade through because of the polygamy. I think things could get that bad, but that is just me. I would recommend these titles to others.
It is always bittersweet finishing a series. There is this feeling of depression that you won't be with the characters you've came to love, rooted for, and swooned over. There is also, at least for me, a feeling of accomplishment and closure (provided that the author delivers.) And Lauren definitely delivered in Sever. 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.
I could not wait for Sever to be relased. I enjoyed the book until the end. Yes it was a suprise and I did not see it coming but I am not a fan of how the Series ended. I adored Linden in fact he was my favorite character through out all three books. What happened to Linden in the end of the book made me not want to finish the book. I was very disapointed in the outcome of Linden's character. I did finish the book becasue I had to know what happened.
The book was quite good but it felt very rushed at the end but an overal great book i would highly recomend.
So, a lot of people didn't seem to like the way the book ended. I'm not one to post spoilers in my reviews, so I'm just going to say that I wasn't upset. I like books that don't end the way you think they're going to. I like series that tie things up, but don't tell the whole future, just infer a promise of something better being possible on the horizon. It was sad, I'll give them that, but it's a dystopian book, come on. There's bound to be some death, there's bound to be some twists that don't make everyone happy. I liked some of the shocks in this book, how we come to find out that seemingly random things were actually all tied together from the beginning. I have a new found hatred of Vaughn...I didn't think it was possible to dislike him more, but DeStefano has created an epic villain here. I enjoyed the whole series and it was definitely a series that I wanted to keep reading each book, had difficulty putting them down, and that is something I crave when I'm reading
Okay i cried poor cecily and linden and rhine but the ending was a little weak but i still gave it five stars cause tge storyline is fantastic!!!!!
I love it already and i am only on the second chapter!!!!!!!
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. Reasons to Read: 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.) The introduction of additional, fascinating characters: 2. 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. ARC received from Simon & Schuster Canada for review; no other compensation was received.
A friend who loves dystopian novels recommended I read WITHER. I actually enjoyed it. Some of it angered me, some depressed me, but overall, the writing kept me entertained. Along came the sequel, and I cringed. I enjoyed none of it and gave the book away. Somehow, I thought SEVER would be better. I also have to finish a series if I start it. I really hated this book. The characters annoyed me. Each and every character. Rhine had to be the worst. I don’t mind passive characters – those who let others lead them around the novel – so long as they learn and are lovable. Rhine aggravated me with her actions. The author tells us how amazing she is, and other characters say how amazing she is, but she never proves to be amazing. She accepts everything too willingly, even the more horrible things. She says she fights for what she believes in, but other than running away with assistance, she never seems to fight. Linden made the only interesting character. He had flaws, but he fought against them. The world isn’t very believable, but that doesn’t bother me. It’s a fantasy novel, so I expect things to be outrageous. What did bother me was the fact that Rhine got nowhere. She ended up back at the carnival. Seriously? She ended up back at the mansion. Again. Rhine got nowhere, and despite an intricate new world, I could never picture it well. At the end, I felt no sense of fulfillment. The book saddened and depressed me. It had so much potential, but then fell short.
This has been such an amazing series and I am sad to see it go because I have loved every single moment of it. It has been a series that has made me cry and that has made me think. It has been one of those series that stays with you long after you have finished. It is also going to be one of those that is reread often. This book was intense, so much happening and changing for all of them. After the previous books, it is hard to imagine that anything else could happen to Rhine. Or to Gabriel, Linden, and Cecily, for that matter. But, as has always been the case, Rhine's father-in-law Vaughn is always there. He is never that far away and they all live in some level of fear because of him. There was a lot to surprise in this book, none of which can I delve into too much, for fear of spoilers! Rhine's twin Rowan comes back into the picture and he was become someone I ever expected. We learn a lot more about Linden, who was always somewhat aloof with his ladies. I had a hard time really feeling for him throughout the other books because he was so separated from the reality of the world he lived in, but that changes with this book. Vaughn, too, as much as I love to hate him, shows a side that is far more human and compassionate than ever before. The biggest surprise is Cecily who has finally grown up and come into her own. And then there was Reed, Vaughn's brother and Linden's uncle. He takes Rhine in, and later Cecily and Linden, too. He is a survivalist and a bit of an eccentric, dismissed by Vaughn as crazy. I think that he was the most sane one of the bunch, becoming the unlikely ally of Rhine. He was a strange duck, but one I loved. Things to love about Sever... --The intrigue. There are so many twists and turns in this book, so many times that everything turns upside down. --The characters. Once again, the characters challenge the reader to put themselves in the situations and decide. --The story. So powerful, so beautiful. Things I wanted more of... --Answers. There were still some questions about the future that are left to our imaginations as the readers. After all they had been through, I wanted to know if there was an HEA. --Maddie. I wanted to know if she was going to be okay. --Cecily and Gabriel. I wanted to know how their stories continued My recommendation: Absolutely stunning read!
Loved the book! I am so sad that it is over. Hope to read another awesome series from this author again in the future!