Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: February 2012
Series: Chemical Garden Trilogy #2
Page count: 341 pages
"Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but they’re still in danger. Outside, they find a world even more disquieting than the one they left behind. Determined to get to Manhattan and to find Rhine’s twin brother Rowan, the two press forward, amidst threats of being captured again . . . or worse.
The road they are on is long and perilous—and in a world where young women only live to age 20 and men die at age 25, time is precious. In this sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price—now that she has more to lose than ever."
Well... where the heck to I start? I picked up this book a long time after reading Wither, so I didnt remember all of the little details from it. I do recall being a little bored but I did still enjoy the story enough. I didnt have this blog back then, but I would say I would've given it somewhere in the 3-4 star range.
** If you havent read Wither, I would recommend reading it first or reading someone else's review on it before you read this review. Also, please be advised there may be some little tiny spoilers for Fever in this review, if you havent read it already**
I was already pissed off that Rhine had run off with Gabriel at the end of Wither. I was not a fan of Gabriel. I felt like Rhine liked him because he was nice to her and they could relate in their imprisonment, whereas she could not relate with Linden (except much later she realizes he's a prisoner of his own sort and she COULD relate to him, but that is besides the point). I was sort of rooting for Linden from the middle of Wither and either way, I was never rooting for Gabriel. Especially in this second installment, when I felt the entire time that Gabriel was a shallow idiot who resented Rhine for bringing him to freedom, just because the world wasnt beautiful or easy.
So anyhow, they're running away from the mansion, which is totally fine, because Rhine obv wants to be reunited with her brother, but then not FIVE MINUTES after they get out of whatever body of water they sailed over and swam through, did they make stupid decisions and were thwarted by a mad woman running a CARNIVAL OF PROSTITUES!! Okay, I'm sorry, some people were excited by the carnival aspect, but I was genuinely annoyed and kind of creeped out by the whole weird thing. The carnival part of the story was so slow for me, I just didnt get it, I hated Rhine and Gabriel while they were there and I just wanted it to be over! I actually felt like I connected more with Jared and Lilac in the carnival more than I did with the main characters!!!
Like I said, I found the first half of the book incredibly slow and boring for me, but I was pleasantly surprised by the turn of events and pick up in the pace as they began getting ready to escape the carnival.
I know it almost sounds crazy, but this book was a little TOO dark for me. I mean, its dystopian, so what do I expect, right? But still - look at Cinder - hysterically funny while still being dark and dystopian-y. I couldnt even connect with Rhine and Gabriel's relationship the way I at least was able to with the other darker dystopian I've read, Pandemonium.
Another problem I had was how GROSS this novel was. I guess its a testament to DeStefano's writing that she can literally make me sick to my stomach with her descriptions of rats and eating old moldy food and what not. I literally found myself skipping brief descriptive portions like these because I thought I was going to puke. So, yay DeStefano, but eh... my stomach is too weak.
On that note - DeStefano is an amazing writer. Her prose.... wow. Just... wow. By the latter third of the book, when she was detailing Rhine's trips in and out of consciousness... it was just beautiful. Dark... and crazy.... but beautiful.
Okay, I ramble. My bad. Anyhow, by the second half of the book, I was much more interested and things were moving slightly faster. I wasnt totally sold on it, because the main characters did nothing for me and the plot hadnt been very great so far.
But then the unthinkable happens... Housemaster Vaughn... Okay I wont say it so this review wont be completely spoiled. Anyhow, after we reach this point in the story, I'm drawn back in. Soon returns the whole cast of the polygamous marriage crew and attendants and I'm back in the game!!
Somehow, I'm still rooting for Linden, and somehow I still hate Cecily. Little bi.... Okay, I'm sorry, I'll stop. Anyway, Rhine and Linden FINALLY come alive for me after a book and three quarters and I was so mad because I was determined not to like this book!! But I think I went into this with the preconceived notion that I didnt like it because I didnt love Wither and I would have rather been reading Requiem but it wasnt out yet. So in all fairness, I hadnt given it a chance. I still didnt love it, but DeStefano TOTALLY redeemed herself and her characters at the end of this book.
SUMMARY OF MY THOUGHTS:
Somehow, the ending redeemed the whole thing for me, and I cant wait to pick up Sever. The writing was absolutely beautiful, the plot was slow moving at first and a little better towards the end, and the characters (until the last 10 pages) were stagnant and boring - almost borderline annoying - for me. I did like this book, however, there were many things about it that I did not like.I would recommend this to anyone who has read Wither already, or those of you who can stand a not so great book to get to something better because something tells me that Sever is going to deliver.
RATING: ★★★ 1/2
I've given this one a total rating of 3 1/2 stars. If I was breaking it down (just to give you a better idea), the first half of this book would get a 2 star rating at best, and the second half would get a 3 1/2, then the last 15-20 pages would get a solid 5, because the book finally came alive here. So with that being said, on average, we fall back to 3 1/2. Also, I did like this book, but I didnt love it. It somehow didnt seem like it deserved a 4 but I didnt want to go as low as a 3.
Have any of you read this one yet? If you have - Do you agree or disagree with the points I made? If you havent - do you think you will be picking this one up any time soon?
Cant wait to hear what you think!