The Chemical Garden Trilogy: Sever
By Lauren DeStefano
Age: Young Adult
Series: Final book in the Chemical Garden Trilogy
Contains: Discussion of drug use. Mild swearing. Mild discussions about sex (not explicit). Terrorism. Death. Slavery/prostitution.
“When we’re alive, life consumes us. But when we die, all of the color and the motion is gone so quickly, it’s as though it can no longer stand to be wasted on us.”
Similar to: I like to think of the seriesas a darker version of The Selection. Like, the first time I read The Selection I thought, “Huh. So this is what Wither would feel like if made by the WB.”
Review by Bronto Incognito
So since this book is the last installment in the series, I figured my spoiler-free half of the review would be about the series in general, and then move on to book 3.
BOOK 1: WITHER
The setup: A hundred years ago or so people in the US thought they could cure their babies of all disease. Taadaa. No common cold, no leukemia, nothing. They’d even age slower. But surprise, surprise it went badly and the children of these children die young. Girls by 20, boys by 25. The rest of the world is gone from some war, and now the country lives in chaos.
Rhine is “gathered”, i.e. kidnapped off the street to be sold to be a rich man’s wife.
Or, more specifically, one of the rich man’s wives.
That’s right, Linden has one wife already and along with Rhine is planning on marrying 3 more. 4 wives for Linden. But this is normal…for him. Many of the rich men have multiple wives in the hopes of one day producing offspring that will survive past their expiration date.
Cheery, huh? Rhine is trapped in the lap of luxury, married to a man she’s never met, and trying to navigate his dangerous father and her new sister wives, one of whom is only 13.
Linden is nice and so is the mansion, but a gilded cage is still a cage. One Rhine desperately needs to escape so she can return to her twin brother.
I love the artwork on all of these covers. See the way the ring, the girl, and the bird in the cage all connect. Get it? GET IT???
Okay, you get it. Moving on.
BOOK 2: FEVER
You guessed it, everything in the second cover tells part of the story, too. I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t read it, but book 2 covers the idea that escape from something doesn’t mean freedom from it. Leaving a person behind doesn’t mean they’re not still living in your mind and heart and starting a relationship with someone doesn’t always mean it’s going to last.
Or should last.
There. Cryptic enough for ya?
To book 3!!!!!
BOOK 3: SEVER
So…the beginning of this book. I was a little disappointed. I really thought we’d get some more nice creepiness with Rhine being trapped in Vaughn’s basement of experimental horror, but no. Instead it’s been a couple months since Rhine came back, Vaughn experimented on her, and Cecily was not as loyal to Rhine as she should have been.
Though, to be fair to Cecily, she’s pregnant again and has a young son to worry about, all before age 16, so she does have a lot going on in her life.
We start with Rhine in the hospital (a real hospital) where Vaughn’s terrible experiments have landed her, and while Linden is now willing to believe some bad things about his dad, he still refuses to let go of him.
Which is why Linden can get SOOOOOO frustrating!!!! Everyone’s been trying to protect him for so long that when he gets the slightest of bad info he crumbles. The fact that he’s such a good guy and so nice and caring is the only thing that keeps you from reaching into the book and punching him in the face sometimes!
Sigh. If only, am I right? Stupid Umbridge…
And that brings us to Vaughn! Gah I hate that guy! If there was ever a character that deserved to die as much as Delores Umbridge, Vaughn Ashby might be it. The most frustrating thing with those two characters I think is the fact that no matter how clearly evil they are, people still seem to fall under their power. No matter how many evil things Vaughn does, he still finds ways to hang onto everyone involved in this story—including Rhine.
And speaking of secrets hiding in the basement, you’ll never guess what Vaughn has cooking this time! Or what Rhine’s brother’s been up to or who he’s connected to. Or how Madame comes back into play. Or why Cecily, though still sometimes whiny and demanding, has become one of my favorite characters in the series.
Though, if you know my strong affection for frivolous characters who become deeper, you might begin to make guesses on that one.
(I’m listening to the Wicked soundtrack as I write this in fact! Cecily it totally a Galinda–with a Gah!)
So…without going on too much longer, or spoiling more for you I will say this: I could have used MUCH more Gabriel time in this book. He didn’t come back nearly soon enough for me, though with only 30 pages left to go in the book I still had no idea how they were going to wrap everything together in the amount of time they had, but Lauren DeStefano did an amazing job as always.
Also, if you don’t follow her already, you totally should. She’s on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Also, she is hilarious. And takes pics of her cats. And crochets. Which makes her all kinds of awesome in my book.
Get it? Book? Get it???
Okay, I’m done. You got it. I’m out.