Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: Sever by Lauren DeStefano

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.
Hardcover, 371 pages

Published February 12th 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
(info grabbed from GoodReads)

I wasn't planning on writing a review for Sever as I haven't written one for Wither or Fever, but I could not contain myself.  I also take pride in not having spoilers in my reviews, but today I'm throwing that out the window.  I don't care if anything is spoiled, since I really don't recommend reading this book.  I do want to start with saying that I very much so liked Wither, and I did initially rate Fever high.  However, though I was excited at the end of Fever as to what Sever would continue in the story, I was pretty unhappy with the story a majority of the book.  The world was bleak, but instead of being a gripping and exciting read, I thought most of Fever was filled with a whole lot of nothing important.  I was interested to see how these seemingly not important parts of the book would be made eye-opening and provide some insight into the mysterious illness or ... something.  I was ultimately disappointed.  Sever ended littered with plot holes and with me sitting there thinking "What the hell did I just read in those three novels?"

I don't know if I've ever read anything that had so many unanswered questions.  And, I mean, big questions. 

Plot Hole #1: Why were Rhine and Rowan so important?  It is mentioned that their DNA is different -- that there is a secret within it.  Retinal analysis is done on both twins, and then BAM! a cure is found.  A bit of explanation in between those events would have been nice.  The way it was written felt like the writer was being lazy and had no idea what to put.  It felt like words were missing.  There was no connection between the cure and the twins in the words on the page.  There were details leading up to the procedure, but they were vague at best.  These details include their parents were scientists who probably altered their DNA when they were born.  And that's it.

Plot Hole #2: Why was Rowan blowing up labs and why was Vaughn (Rhine's father-in-law) paying him to do so?  It seemed to me that this was a cheap plow to bring attention to Rowan so Rhine could find him and to simultaneously link Rowan to Vaughn.  After Rhine and Rowan are reunited, Rowan's arson escapades are never mentioned again.  It's not like he set fire to one building to get Rhine's attention; he was literally trekking around the country, giving speeches and rallies, and ending them with the explosion of large research facility.  And we the reader are supposed to believe he was just doing this... why?

Plot Hole #3: How did Linden die?  Seriously.  How?  Most people don't have a seizure and hemorrhage from a bumpy plane landing.  Especially when everyone else involved is unharmed, save for a few bruises.  If Linden had some kind of fragile brain or whatever, why wasn't it mentioned?  And his dad is supposedly a physician, but nothing medical was ever discussed.  I can only choke this up to laziness on the author's part -- there should have been more research into the medical aspect of this book.  I'm not just talking about Linden's death, but with the "virus" as well.  The only medical information that is revealed is that it is not a virus really, it's just that's what they call it since they weren't quite sure what it was in the beginning.  There's no further discussion on it.  My point being, if you're going to write a book and have it focus on any medical topic (or topic outside the author's normal expertise), do some research.  It's not hard to find a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional to talk to about speculating the possibilities of the future.  That's one of the things in science fiction that is so cool: speculating what could be.  This is where The Chemical Garden Trilogy really let me down, as it promised so much brain food for me in Wither, but didn't really provide anything beyond its promises in Fever and Sever.

I was not impressed with the writing in Sever.  I thought it to be filled with all the wrong words.  I was not impressed with the prose or storytelling; I found the writing choppy and sloppy.  I was not overwhelmed with feelings for any character, potentially least of all Rhine, our main character.  I was not particularly anything throughout the whole third book and continued to read mostly out of obligation since I already had read (and own) the first two in the series.  I have read a lot of books (I started blogging after as well) since reading Wither and Fever, so I think it's likely my tastes have grown and evolved.  I can't say that I would go back to Wither and love it as much as I did the first read through.  What I do know is I would not recommend the trilogy as a whole to anyone, at this point.  I don't really like saying that, as it is a very harsh thing to say about someone's work but also because I have already recommended this series to friends before I read Sever. 

Final Thought: "I-don't-even-know" out of 5 toadstools

If I think about this book any further, I may scream

This review is also posted on GoodReads

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