This is going to be hard as I have A LOT OF FEELINGS upon reading the final, last, DEFINITE conclusion to the trilogy that’s kept me awake many a night. I'm not really versed in writing reviews, but I was lucky enough to get an ARC (thank you goodreads and Simon & Schuster) so I'm going to give it a go. And never fear, I’m not going to spoil anything that goodread’s summaries haven’t already spoiled. PROMISE.* You are safe to keep reading.
If you haven’t yet started this series now is the time – instant gratification and all. Like my cousin who refused to invest in another series in which she’d have to wait for months or years for the next book, she will now be dropping everything to experience it all in one week (god help her). But good. It’s like I said when I passed along this ARC: I WILL NOT BE GOING THROUGH THIS ALONE.
This is a series that demands to be talked about.
Sever (via 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.
The verb I really want to stress here is ‘alarming.’ Also, ‘breathtaking’ - because that’s really what the whole series was for me.
DeStafano is a masterful world-builder. (Did I mention Lauren DeStefano, the author? I probably should have brought her up sooner as she is the person responsible for all of this.) I mean it. Everywhere she takes us – a ghostly mansion, a broken carnival, a lush orange grove, a rundown city – we can feel the sun and taste the strawberries and smell the chemicals. (Side bar: a pool with underwater holograms--that’s pretty much something I never knew I always wanted. So thanks for that, DeStefano.)
The writing is beautiful as well. (So beautiful in fact that I’m going to spend too much time quoting non-spoliery passages from Wither and Fever on Tumblr). Really lyrical and transcendent, and at times delightfully creepy.
I don’t really know where to begin with talking about the amazing characters in this trilogy and the complicated lives they lead. There are many shades to the villain, a narrator who might be unreliable sometimes and admits it, and all of the questions about life and death and love intermingle into one terrible dilemma.
Full disclosure: Linden Ashby is probably one of my favorite characters. Ever. For me he was really the tour de force driving Rhine (and by extension, us) to examine in this sad dystopian word, what do you make of a short life, what do you risk, and is it ever better to just be ignorant?
So the end – and throughout actually, if I’m being completely honest – I cried. For me it was a put-down-the-book-for-a-second-to-get-a-Kleenex, then invite-your-70lb.-dog-onto-the-bed-where-he-is-absolutely-not-allowed-just-so-you-have-someone-to-hug kind of ending. Which, in case you couldn't tell, is the best kind.
And DeStefano is at it again. Her next series, The Internment Chronicles, begins with Perfect Ruin in Winter 2014. We should all be fully recovered from Sever and back to living normal lives by then. :)
*(P.S. Life will punish you for revealing spoilers. It will, in weird unavoidable ways and you don’t need that on your conscious. So don’t do it, and especially don’t do it in the comments. But please feel free to email me should you want to discuss this book or any others that I mention on this blog.)