This is a review for the final book in The Chemical Garden Trilogy and so may contain spoilers from the previous books.
Sever by Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release: 14th February 2013
Genre: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, YA
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Goodreads Summary:"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."
After reading Sever, the third and final book in this series, I can say without a doubt that The Chemical Garden trilogy is one of my all-time favourites. Every book has direction and is incredibly strong and each book I’ve enjoyed equally so much so that I couldn’t pick a favourite if I tried. One thing I will say for Sever is that Lauren DeStefano is at her best in this book, in a word her writing is glorious.
Characters old and new are reunited in this final instalment and I felt like every single character became fully developed and we saw a different side to them. Cecily has come on leaps and bounds and has developed into a loving mother and wife and a headstrong, brave, young woman. After the events in the last book Linden finally sees his father for who he is and finds the courage to stand up to him.
The villains in this book Vaughn and Madame are also shown in a new light as we see a more humane side to them. Vaughn in particular is so emotionally complex and I ended up feeling a wide range of feelings toward him by the end of this book. I love a well-developed villain and Vaughn has got to be one of my all-time literary favourites.
The only issue I have with this book is one I’ve always had with the series and it’s that the romance isn’t great. I’ve never really been a fan of Rhine’s love interest Gabriel - I was hoping that something would happen to make me love him in this book but with him not making an appearance until the end this didn’t happen. Needless to say if you’re a fan of Gabriel you might not be impressed by the lack of him in this final instalment. The love story to this series could have been so much more than it was especially when you read the gorgeous love stories between Cecily and Linden and the beautifully described memories Linden shares of his late wife Rose whose memory is brought up often in this book and is very cherished. I just don’t understand why Lauren DeStefano didn’t take the time to develop Rhine and Gabriel in such a way.
I don’t want to talk about the plot too much in this review as it is so easy to spoil what happens. But rest assured that everything is resolved and tied up nicely with plenty of shocking twists that I didn’t see coming at all but now that I look back the clues were there all along. I also really loved how DeStefano went into how the world ended up this way in detail something a lot of dystopian authors brush over - if discussed at all.
Overall I thought that Sever was a stunning if brutal conclusion to what has become a beloved series of mine. I loved that the author wasn’t afraid to make harsh decisions in the name of staying true to the heart of this series and the book ends on a hopeful and beautiful message. I’m not ashamed to say I wept several times whilst reading this book and stayed up until the early hours to finish it. I’m so sad to say goodbye to this world and its characters and will be picking up anything that Lauren DeStefano writes in the future without hesitation.