Kim’s Review of Sever (The Chemical Garden #3) by Lauren DeStefano

sldsAs I’ve said before, the third book in a trilogy is usually my least favorite.  This is mainly due to the fact that expectations become so high that it becomes extremely difficult to meet them, if not exceed them.  After reading the spectacular first two books in the Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano, Wither and Fever, I knew that the stakes would be just as high for her third and final book, Sever.

From Goodreads: 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 reviewing many a suspense/thriller novel over the years, one of my favorite attributes of the genre is the plot twist.  I love a good plot twist.  There was no question that Sever fit in this category, as the plot twists came hard and fast.  When I thought I had a plot line figured out, DeStefano went in a whole new direction.  When I thought I knew what one character would do, a completely different character did it.  More than that, DeStefano was able to make these changes on the fly, making the plot seem like a jumbled puzzle that came together at the last second.  Even though the pace seemed frantic, the plot development was well-paced and the overarching storyline was moving along well, that is until I got to the end.  I felt as though there was enough time to bring the book to a great conclusion, but instead it felt rushed and abrupt.  Although it was the only fault I found with this book, it did put a damper on my feelings upon finishing.  Despite this, however, DeStefano should be lauded for her ability to create such a great ending piece for an amazing trilogy.  You can definitely count me in as a huge DeStefano groupie that will be eagerly awaiting her next series, The Internment Chronicles.  Book one is entitled Perfect Ruin.  Exciting!

4 out of 5 Stars

Sever by Lauren DeStefano
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers (2013)
Hardcover 371 pages
ISBN: 9781442409095

2012 – A Year in Review

fireworksAnd with it being  January 1st, 2013 we can officially end 2012 and all its reading goals.  I’m very happy to say that I have succeeded in reading my 110 books for the year and exceeded that goal by a whopping 74 books!  With the success of this year I’ll up my reading goal again for 2013.  Keep an eye out for my annual New Year, New Challenges post for a breakdown of what I’m looking to accomplish.

2012 has definitely been a year of eclectic reading for me.  It’s difficult to pick my favorite books of the year since I read so many, but here is my best go:

  1. The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley
  2. The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley
  3. Dangerous to Know by Tasha Alexander
  4. A Million Suns by Beth Revis
  5. The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
  6. When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
  7. The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
  8. Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer
  9. In A Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener/The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
  10. Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Damn. That was difficult.

My reading challenges wrap up is as follows: I once again blew through the Historical Fiction challenge (woot woot!).  I also succeeded in my first year participating in the Around the Stack challenge!  Now for the bad parts. The TBR challenge and the Audio challenge both got only one completed review each out of me.  I know I failed the audio challenge because of 1Q84 (AH SO LONG), plus my addiction of reading newer books killed any hope I had of finishing the TBR challenge.  A 50% completion rate for the challenges isn’t terrible, but I’d still liked to have completed 100%.

Even though it’s 2013 I still have some books to review that I finished in 2012, so keep an eye out for them.  You can also see a listing of EVERYTHING I read this year, including review links, here.

Well, there you go folks.  My 2012 year in review.  Enjoy the rest of your New Year’s and join me again tomorrow as we kick off a new year and new challenges!

#29 A Review of Fever (The Chemical Garden #2) by Lauren DeStefano

With all the buzz recently regarding The Hunger Games movie adaptation, I felt that it was definitely appropriate to review what is fast becoming my favorite new dystopian series, The Chemical Garden Trilogy. (as a side note, if you haven’t seen The Hunger Games yet, do it!)  I’m always interested in new dystopian novels, and the premise plus the awesome cover art drew me into the first book in the series, Wither (see review here).  Naturally I had to continue on, so when book two, Fever, was published at the end of February I jumped at the chance to continue reading.

We are again thrust into the surreal world created by Lauren DeStefano where a genetic mishap ensures that women live to 20 and men live to 25.  We are reunited with Gabriel and Rhine as they make their escape from the mansion and the housemaster Vaughn.  Although one would hope that they would finally reach a safe haven after the terror of the first novel, it is not to be.  Gabriel and Rhine find themselves trapped in a carnival of sorts that employs a legion of young girls against their will.  Just when Rhine thinks that she is beginning to understand her situation and has Gabriel to help her, she is thrown into another period of chaos and terror that shakes her faith in the world in which they live.  Their only beacon of hope is Manhattan, where Rhine’s twin brother Rowan lives and can offer them shelter from the terrors they endure.  The only problem is in getting there.  What will happen to Rhine and Gabriel?  Will they ever be able to reach safety again?

WOW. Just……WOW.  Wither was stellar, leading me to have extremely high expectations for Fever.  I can 100% say that I was not disappointed at all.  Readers are given new locations and new horrors to deal with in this futuristic society that are just as bad as the ones Rhine and Gabriel left behind at the mansions.  I thought that DeStefano did a great job at continuing to bring us a world with multilayered, action packed conflicts.  Just when Rhine and Gabriel think that they’re on the path to freedom and safety, they’re thrust into a world that I think is worse than the one that they escaped from.  The carnival that they’re trapped in is hands down the creepiest location that we’ve seen yet in this series.  The fact that drugs are used to a. keep Gabriel in check, b. the girls of the carnival subdued to “perform”, and c. force Rhine and Gabriel to perform in cages together for the benefit of the crowd is quite sickening.  What makes the carnival so scary is the loss of free will.  Sure, there are times when others in the camp help aid in their attempts to escape, but the time spent there is frighteningly dark and DeStefano does a fantastic job at really getting this darkness right.

I really like the character development in this novel, but most especially with regard to Gabriel.  We only get to see him for small periods of time in Wither, so it was refreshing to learn more of his back story as well as see him grow as a person and a man in Fever.  Rhine, too, grows and learns that sometimes in order to protect the people around her, she must give in to those who make her life hell.  She becomes less selfish and more selfless in Fever, which greatly added to the respect that I have for her as a character and a heroine.  For those of you who are new to the series, I definitely recommend adding it to your to-read pile.  Frightening, fascinating, and completely unpredictable, The Chemical Garden Trilogy is definitely a series you need to jump on board with.

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my eighth completed review for the Around The Stack In How Many Ways Challenge

Fever by Lauren DeStefano
Simon and Schuster (2012)
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN: 9781442409071

The February Round-Up

February was a fairly lackluster month outside of the reading front.  I continued with my strong reading pace adding another 13 books to my total for the year! (Currently at 28 for the year which is about 25% of my total goal!!!)  Nothing big has happened this month besides Todd’s skiing accident (more on this later).  Besides our weekly bowling sessions we’ve kept busy with some trips to NYC again this month.  Staff blogger Adam had his birthday this month, so a trip to NYC to celebrate was a must!  Our first day in the city I met up with my sister to run some errands for her wedding.  We had lunch at Eataly which was absolutely sublime.  If you have never been to/heard of Eataly you are missing out 100%.  Mario Batali collaborated with other chefs and food industry professionals and created an Italian haven.  There are sections of Eataly where you can stop and eat whatever your heart desires ( all within an Italian style of course).  Besides all of the munching stations you can buy TONS of imported food from Italy – pasta, sauce, oil, cheese, etc.  You can easily spend $100 in there in 5 seconds flat.  Everything made me reminisce about my trip to Italy this past spring, so you can bet your bottom dollar I bought a bunch of Italy home with me that night.  Before heading out to Adam’s birthday celebration at a bar on the Upper East Side called Off the Rails, Todd and I went to dinner with my sister and her fiancée for our first taste of Korean food! It was delicious and I can’t wait to get it again!  Adam’s party was a great way to catch up with friends from college, and a good time was had by all!  Of course before heading back to Connecticut a trip to The Strand was thrown in.  I picked up some exciting YA reads and was able to get some of them completed this month already!

Me and Grandma!

Other than our trip to NYC the only other exciting thing to happen this month was a celebration for my aunt and grandma’s birthdays!  Grandma hit the big 90 this year!  Very big milestone!

Now as I mentioned earlier in my post, Todd unfortunately had a skiing accident this past weekend.  He slipped on some ice on the mountain, hitting his head and causing a serious concussion, which wound up causing a seizure.  Fortunately besides a shoulder injury and some facial cuts he is doing much better.  He has some follow-up doctors appointments to attend, but we’re hoping for the best.  If you notice his lack of posting in the coming weeks, it’s due to his needing rest (both mentally and physically) to recoup.  He says to tell you all hello though!

On to the bookish front!  I tried to keep my choices eclectic again opting for fiction, historical fiction, and some young adult dystopias.  As always I’m still behind on my reviews (OY). I’m hoping to catch up in the next two weeks.  My favorite read for the month was definitely Wither by Lauren DeStefano. Wither is the first novel in her Chemical Garden trilogy; book 2 Fever just came out last week!  I was lucky enough to snatch up signed copies of BOTH from my local Barnes and Noble.  (I have an unsigned copy of Wither to give away with my review, so keep an eye out!)

As always we have some interesting reviews coming up in the blog front.  We’re taking part in two blog tours in March – one for The Book of Lost Fragrances, the other for Dinner With Lisa.  Besides the books I’m reading and reviewing Adam has some historical fiction novel reviews coming and Charlie is reviewing Steve Jobs’ biography near the end of the month.  Todd also has  few books in the queue once he’s feeling better.  In the coming days there might be a new staff announcement as well!! (So excited about this!)

Anyway, that wraps up another month.  Where has 2012 flown by to??  I hope your February was a great one.  Leave any book recommendations you have below!

As Always – Happy Reading!