February 7, 2013

Review: Sever by Lauren DeStefano

Title: Sever (The Chemical Garden Trilogy #3)

Author: Lauren DeStefano
Release Date: February 12th, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Page Count: 384
Source: ARC provided by Lauren's literary agency because I interned there last summer. But I PROMISE that has nothing to do with why I love this series so much.
Rating: ★★★★
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.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

THIS IS THE END YOU GUYS. THE END OF THE GREATNESS. *Takes deep breath* Okay. I'm ready. I'll try and keep my feels together. But no promises.

Let's break this down:

So the story picks up where the last book left off (just like it did between Wither and Fever): Rhine in the hospital, plotting how she's going to get back to her brother. It's kind of been the plot of this book since minute one, but the motives are different now. Rhine might WANT to go back to what once was, but she now knows that's not possible. Actually, she now knows it probably wasn't ever possible and it's time to move forward, not try and go backwards. Which is some serious character growth.

But that's not all for Rhine's character growth. This series isn't one of those loud, comic book onomatopoeia type series. The action doesn't smack you in the face. Instead it kind of creeps up on you in the form of Lauren DeStefano's lush, velvety prose, wraps itself around around you and overwhelms the I don't even know what outta you. As such, Rhine's growth in this book is similarly slow and soft. It's kind of like when you're trying to do some awful terrible math problem and you keep trying different ways to solve it but it's just not working. Then suddenly the teacher walks over, explains that they taught you how to do this one thing wrong and is sorry for not being more clear in class. Then you have this quiet "aha moment" in which you're not embarrassed, per say, but upset that you'd wasted all this time being frustrated for no reason.Your understanding might have changed, but every time you think of that math problem, or Rhine thinks of the similar-to-math-terrible situation she's been put in, that sadness returns and you wonder how things got so colossally messed up in the first place.

(Was my math metaphor a little dramatic? I don't even care. I hate math.)

But not only was Rhine's development wonderful. Rowan, her twin, also provides a very compelling story arc. He's probably got the fewest lines in the book, but we know him because Rhine shows us him (I like to think she's not biased because she really sees him, the way she believes he really sees her). I also really enjoy Linden and Cecily's transformations. It's so hard to believe they're the Linden and Cecily of Wither but they are and the development is truly gradual and logical in such a way that they feel like people I know in real life instead of characters on a page.

The rest of the characters in this book flourish wonderfully as well. They're all interconnected in the most bittersweet of ways. I was totally surprised at how Madame fits into everything, when we found out the truth about Jenna and when it became VERY clear what Vaughn's been up to for the entire series. I guessed how the world building issues I had with the first book would be solved, but I never thought Vaughn would be so involved with that solution. What a sneaky man.

But all of these very important factors aside, I think I loved this book most because of the larger theme: Utilitarianism. When I studied philosophy in college, I hated Utilitarianism. It drove me crazy (I loved that class and professor, though, for the record). But the way this series - and especially Sever - deals with this concept is truly gut wrenching. I honestly felt conflicted the whole way through. And like I said earlier, this book isn't an epic. I wasn't pulling my hair out and writing strongly worded letters to Lauren DeStefano. Instead I sat silently, just thinking about the world in a way I haven't since that philosophy class two years ago. This really is one of those series where being against the whole "the many over the few" idea becomes so difficult to wrap my head around. 

Oh man. I think that's as specific I can get without spoiling the book. I will say that I'm a LITTLE sad there isn't more Gabriel in this book, but ultimately I'm not so much because I like that this book (and series as a whole) is more about the sibling relationship than the romance. That's what should be important right? Blood's thicker than water and all that.

Uhm. So. On that note. This series is DONE. I'm sad, I'm happy, I'm I DON'T EVEN KNOW. But I will say that I think it's gonna be okay because Lauren DeStefano's next trilogy was announced today and IT SOUNDS LIKE IT'S GONNA BE AMAZING. So check that out, yeah?

The long and short of it?

Plot: The whole thing just makes sense at the end of it all in a way I never thought it could.
World Building: Utilitarianism at it's best. Or worst >.<
Character Development: A delightful build I absolutely adore.
Prose: Do we really have to review my love of Lauren DeStefano's writing again?
Would I Recommend This Book?: If you like dystopian, philosophy or excellent plots twists, read it. The whole series. Please.

It's over. I cry. Do you cry? Were you as excited about this one as I was? Did you love it as much I did? PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FEELS!