Wither: By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. Together with one of Linden’s servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?
Fever: Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind. In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price – now that she has more to lose than ever.
Sever: In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.
***SOME SPOILERS AHEAD***
—Disclamer, the post below is very much my own and personal opinion, I am in no way trying to discourage people from reading the books—
So this trilogy left me with VERY conflicted thoughts, a bit more than half of me is still pretty much sitting here like:
Because in all honesty, the “science” part of the books (the word science being used very lightly in this particular case) was not thought out very well – let’s just face it: there is no way in all the nine circles of hell that people just start dropping dead THE MOMENT they reach a certain age because neither biology, nor disease works like that.
Another thing that really bothered me was the fact that America seemed practically unscathed by the ‘oh so terrible war and conflict’ that apparently went on previously. I mean apart from a few places being submerged in water (those being the areas which were actually quite high above sea level go figure) and ending up in poverty (which was actually rather believable so big thumbs up on that) there was absolutely nothing wrong with the place! (I guess it is explained in the end, but it still bugged me)
The main character also very much irked me to the point where I felt like tearing through the pages to take her by the shoulders in order to shake her – I mean yes, she was captured and unwillingly taken to an unfamiliar place – but holy mother of babies everywhere IT WAS A FREAKING MANSION. With people waiting on each and every of her needs, not only that but two lovely girls who she found a very hard time in trusting (of course, she turned out to be partially right, but that is all to be blamed on Cecily’s innocence which she was very quickly stripped of – thanks Vaughn). Of course, the natural reaction to being given a home within a beautiful house would be to seek freedom at every cost – but that quite frankly may just be my opinion. Throw in the good ol’ love triangle (or pentagon as it seemed) and we’re set for a disaster.
Fever managed to suffer from the weirdest case of the infamous middle book syndrome, whilst it wasn’t a slow-paced read (DeStefano’s writing style kept it from completely falling into a ten foot deep hole) the plot didn’t really go any further than Rhine being her usual inept self. It did nothing to appease my growing annoyance with the story. Within Fever, DeStefano almost normalizes the concept of rape by her use of the brothel run by a very pretentious lady who goes by the name of “Madam”. Whilst I respect that it is DeStefano’s world, and given the circumstances many people would not care about rape or prostitution, the idea more than bugged me….
By pure luck and the help of a little disabled child and her mother, along with a bodyguard who coincidently warms up to them – Rhine manages to escape the camp a whole three quarters of the book later but doesn’t realise that her actions can be and were tracked by none other but Vaughn himself
I mean in a world where technology is advanced enough to make people who live and prosper for insanely long periods of time, and given the fact that she was knocked out cold for days having arrived at the mansion, I would’ve thought that maybe, just maybe Rhine may have considered the possibility of the potential that there may just be a tracking device within her body… Especially with her father-in-law being a scientist and her tendency to annoy him by trying to run away.
So by Sever, I was really wondering whether the book was worth reading which is not something I usually do – and quite honestly having read it, I am not sure if it was worth the effort. While the protagonist had clearly wanted to find her brother since the beginning of the first book, she does nothing in order to actually accomplish that, instead she decides to hide and engage in activities such as cleaning, gardening and relaxing – because whyever not. Linden’s uncle and his odd sense of humour was probably the only thing that made the book bearable.
HOWEVER, the third book did evoke some positive feelings in me, I think that throughout it, I managed to understand Cecily a lot more, and thought that the eventual addition of Rowan (who A- wasn’t very considerate and B – seemed to stop caring that his sister was actually alive a chapter after having met her, but I am completely willing to look past that) did make it a whole lot more interesting. Within Sever, Vaughn’s character gets some pretty BIG development. The devil-incarnated, pure evil of a monster that we were presented with for more than two books is somewhat forgiven his wrongdoings at least partially without question, which in turn made me very confused.
Apart from DeStefano’s original and very effective writing style, another thing I actually enjoyed was the ending of the trilogy, which really gave the books some closure and for that I was grateful as from experience, some authors are just incapable of giving their stories the conclusion they deserve.
All in all, the trilogy did result in a bit of a downfall and disaster for me, however I will be looking to read DeStefano’s other series to see whether it was just these particular subjects which deserved a bit more research on the author’s part. I would recommend these books to any avid readers of dystopian fiction who are looking for an original read.
My Rating: 1.5/5 Stars (and only because it evoked really really strong emotions as you can probably tell by the length of this post)
“Because even if the lie is beautiful, the truth is what you face in the end”