11 Following

Radiant Shadows

Sever (Chemical Garden Trilogy)

Sever - Lauren DeStefano Having loved Wither and having been disappointed by Fever, with Sever I was hoping that Lauren DeStefano would redeem her trilogy for me, by concluding it with the sense of wonder and hope I had been given with Wither. While certain world-building questions were finally addressed, I couldn’t get past Rhine’s bleak outlook on life and DeStefano’s tendency to wax philosophical at every turn.Considering that lacklustre world-building was a common complaint from readers of both Wither and Fever, it was about time that the issue was finally adressed in Sever. So while I appreciated being given some answers, I took issue with how it was presented; that is, I disliked having all of North America’s history thrown at me in one info-dump speech, given by Vaughan, towards the end of the book. And the worst part was that for readers who were paying attention when Reed talked about things not being as they seemed during the first few chapters of Sever, the explanation given by Vaughan in this info-dump wasn’t even surprising. DeStefano’s use of foreshadowing really took away most of the suspense surrounding North America’s history, and the reasons behind the virus infecting everyone from Rhine’s generation. And while the explanation we’re given explains away most of the most ridiculous parts of the premise, parts that many readers took issue with in Wither, the explanation served only to replace the first with something that was just as unrealistic and unbelievable.I could have gotten past DeStefano’s weak attempt at explaining her dystopian world had I enjoyed reading about her characters. Unfortunately for Sever, while the characters I missed the most from Fever (Cecily and Linden) are back, everyone is stuck in a bleak and dreary place, making for a very stagnant and tiring read. Linden is trying his hardest to be angry with Rhine, to hate her, so he spends much of Sever blank-faced as he works through reconciling his head with his heart. Cecily has grown up significantly since Wither, and while she’s still hot-tempered, she’s much more sombre and much less prone to outburst – I missed her passion! As for Rhine, she talked – a lot – about her great plan of finding her brother, but most of what she experiences is something that is forced on her, or something that someone makes her do. She was very much a passive force in Sever, and even her voice became one of hopelessness and defeat. While I understood that the last year had not been easy for Rhine, I just couldn’t empathize with a character who truly didn’t care about her own future.Even my favorite villain wasn’t spared. I remember being truly terrified of Vaughan in Wither, and his influence was palpable in Fever even though he wasn’t physically present for most of the book. But in Sever, Vaughan is just as tired as the rest of the characters. He gives a rather logical explanation for most of his behaviour, shedding new light on his seemingly diabolical plans, which made his scheming, somehow, much less ominous. But his character doesn’t actually change, or experience the kind of development required for me to alter my perception of him. Much like the world-building was just taken at face value in Wither, I am expected to take Vaughan’s noble intentions at face value in Sever, regardless of who he has had to sacrifice or hurt in the process.And as much as I couldn’t get behind Sever’s characters, I also couldn’t enjoy the writing. Perhaps I’m just not a fan of Lauren DeStefano’s style, but I found it much too flowery considering Sever’s pacing and that Sever is very much a character-driven story. There was too much attention given to what Rhine was thinking during her deepest moments of depression, that even when something plot-related was happening, I couldn’t muster up enough energy to care because I was so bored with Rhine’s bleak outlook and philosophical thoughts about life and death.So why is Sever getting two stars, instead of just one? Because despite its faults, I still read it in just one sitting. So it obviously had something going for it that I enjoyed enough to make sure it got read. I think that while I didn’t like how the flowery prose bogged down an already slow-moving plot, it was still pretty. And that’s gotta count for something…right?