Sever by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden Trilogy #3
Genre: YA, futuristic, romance
Published on February 12, 2013
Published by Simon & Schuster
Read From: 3.23.13 - 3.24.13
After enduring Vaughn's worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, and 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.
Cover Blurb: Yes or No? No. I love the dress (so pretty!), and how the little things on the cover are connected to things in the story - I've always liked that about the covers. But now the character impersonator is leering at the Reader! I don't like that.
Characters: My feelings for Rhine have settled into being lukewarm: I don't dislike her, but I don't like her either. I just plain don't care. Cecily went up five notches in my eyes in this installment, for the simple fact that she's the only character who actually does something in the end - and she's not afraid of guns. What is it with these protagonists who act like if you look at a gun crosswise, it's going to go off? The gun isn't the enemy; it's the person holding the gun who can be. Cecily, however, takes initiative, learns how to handle one, and eventually has occasion to use it. She's also not quite as bratty anymore, and she's a bit more aware of what's going on. Linden, on the other hand, is just dense. Here his father lied to him about Rhine, has kept Rhine in the basement, to conduct experiments, and Linden still trusts this guy? Seriously? Oh, sure, Vaughn just gets "carried away" sometimes, but he's a villain. Please. Gabriel is hardly in Sever, and when he is, he's sedated - again. This guy never gets a chance to be a character; I almost feel sorry for him. With Rowan, I felt like I should be attached to him because he's Rhine's twin brother, but I found that I wasn't. When we meet him, he's a crazy fanatic, and we don't ever get to know the Rowan that Rhine knew. As for Vaughn . . . Originally, I found him genuinely creepy. But now he's just ineffectual and lame. He shows up, makes a few threats in sweet, sugary tones, then disappears. Only to show up again to do the exact same thing, and then leave without actually carrying out any of his threat. And then the Author tries to justify what he's doing; tries to get the Reader to sympathize with him. Um, excuse me? This guy has been experimenting on people, which often results in death, and he murdered one of his own grandchildren, then lied to his son about it. You can't sympathize with someone like that.
The Romance: It's pretty much nil for this installment. Gabriel isn't there long enough for Rhine to go all gooey-eyed over him, and Linden . . . Well, her relationship with Linden is complicated, and he spends a lot of the book mad at her, and then looking like a lost puppy (which didn't, by the way, endear him to me). So no real complaints in this quarter.
Plot: Wither had an idea with potential. It was kind of slow, but I enjoyed becoming acquainted with Rhine's world, and then once she escaped, I was like, Yes! Now something will happen! Well . . . Fever felt like a massive drug trip, and nothing happened beyond Rhine becoming addicted to drugs, getting off them, and then spending the rest of her time in a lab and then a hospital. Maybe Sever will pick things up, I thought. Um, no. More hospitals, more sleeping, and a pointless return to Madame's carnival. For a moment, when this happened, I wondered if maybe the whole point to Madame's carnival would be made evident. Turns out the only point behind it was so Rhine and Co. would discover Rose's past, and that had absolutely no bearing on the story. The rest of the book is spent with Cecily and Rhine trying to convince Linden that Dear Old Dad really isn't as good as he thought, and then the Author trying to convince the Readers that maybe Vaughn's methods weren't the best, but he really was trying to do what was right. In the end, I realized that there are no sympathetic characters. You can't pick a side in this story. On the one hand, you have pro-scientists, who are like Vaughn. And then you have the pro-naturalists, who are a bunch of terrorists. The book just kind of meanders through all of this with no real purpose, until it reaches the climax, and I have a fair bit to say about that.
Believability: Not applicable.
Writing Style: The same as all the others: present-tense, works fairly well for the story itself, but still very modern and not to my taste. The Author does love to write about pregnancy. I'm a girl, and even I don't like to read about that. It's just . . . No.
Conclusion: Can we say some of the most abrupt and pointless deaths in literary history?! [Spoiler] So Linden dies. He's not murdered and he doesn't sacrifice himself to save someone else. No, what happens instead is this: when his "oh-so-lovably eccentric" uncle takes Rhine, Cecily, and Linden up for a spin in his newly renovated plane, they discover that oh-so-lovably eccentric uncle doesn't really know how to land a plane. So it's a bumpy ride, Linden hits his head on the windshield, and suddenly - and I mean suddenly - Linden's gushing blood from his nose, his mouth, his eyes, his ears. And he's dead. Just like that. [End spoiler] Seriously! What was the point? I'm fine with characters dying, but there has to be a point behind it beyond, "Oh, this characters needs to go." And the deaths have to be good deaths. [Spoiler] Vaughn's demise was pretty good, but it was still very sudden. And I love how no one really investigates. A super famous scientist has just died mysteriously by gunshot; shouldn't we wonder how this happened? [End spoiler] And as for the final "revelation;" there were so many hints and nudges that it didn't come as a surprise at all. If it had been a surprise, I might have thought it was kind of a good twist. But as it was, no. All in all, Sever did nothing good for the trilogy, and I've decided to not waste my time with it ever again.
Recommended Audience: Girl-read, fourteen-and-up, fans of benign dystopian novels.
Others in The Chemical Garden Trilogy: