Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sever: A weird finish

"Wither" caught me by surprise. "Fever" added to that surprise. I liked both books with some caveats, but overall I enjoyed them more than I didn't.

I don't know what to think about "Sever".

On the one hand, it has all the things that enjoyed about the first two books - nice prose (yes, I am one of those people,) an abundance of female characters, very light on the romance and heavy on other relationships, a psychological view on dystopia and the effect of a deadly genetic flaw on young people which dooms them to a short life and a violent early death. We even get some worldbuilding kinks ironed out, which made me really happy. 

On the other... oh, dear.

Let's just say that maybe the ending was a bit too much.

Short review: it's an okay ending, but not overwhelming. 

Long review contains spoilers.

I don't think I can adequately review this book on its own - as the ending to a series, I feel like I ought to see how it fits in with "Wither" and "Fever" and rounds everything up. And this is the problem - on its ow, "Sever" makes sense. As the final book in the "Chemical Garden Trilogy", it contradicts the overall tone of the series and possibly the characters.

Rhine's story continues as she recovers from the events of the last book. She's still dead set on finding her brother, but now she has Linden and Cecily to alternatively distract her and help her out. Meanwhile, Vaughn is weaving his webs to create a cure, but a cure that only he will administer. Arbitrarily, of course.

Here's the thing - there were hints dropped throughout the last two books that Rhine and Rowan's parents had been developing a cure and that the twins were somehow instrumental to it. So the ending of the book - where the cure is found and Rhine and (mostly) everyone she loves gets it - doesn't come completely out of left field.

But... well, I guess this is another case of me "not liking happy endings" because it just goes against the tone of the earlier books.

"Wither" and "Fever" had all the characters acting like the world was ending, and with a good reason. The world we see is in shambles. Cures don't work. Girls are taken off the street and sold into prostitution or arranged marriages, children are left to roam parentless and loveless, and bombings are going off at research facilities because people are just so damn disillusioned. If there was a chance that the people could be cured, wouldn't the scientists and the government be more open about their research, spreading hope and appeasing the new and old generations? In fact, the hush-hush nature of it all was the reason why Vaughn managed to get away with committing all the atrocities he did. Do you think he would have been allowed to do what he did if the general public knew what he did to his test subjects? No, I bloody don't think so.

Rhine and every other character act as if there is no hope and the cure is a magical fairy tale. I'm not saying it would have been great to have a bleaker ending, but at least it would have been more consistent with the overall tone of things.

That said, this book does continues to show off the love and camaraderie between the main female characters. I like the nuanced relationships and I like how there seems to advocate emotional fulfillment beyond romantic love. I really like that about Lauren DeStefano's writing, and I'm actually curious to pick up her next series.

Read as part of the 2014 prequels/sequels challenge.

Image via BookLikes. 

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