Release Date: 12 February 2013
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Page Count: 371
I’ve been putting off writing this review because I don’t want to look too deeply at the book’s merits and weaknesses. I don’t want to ruin this book high by methodically combing through what I liked and disliked. Know that I thought it was amazing and I’m finding it hard to put into words why I loved it so much.
Well, is it a book high if you want to hug the book to yourself, weeping from the sheer bittersweetness of it?
The two biggest questions I had from the previous books were answered. Without spoiling, let’s just say that DeStefano hasn’t scrimped on her world building nor is Rhine the ‘special snowflake’ many people might mistake her for. All of this was planned from the beginning and only now are the final answers unfurled like a rosebud opening in bloom.
Rhine was slightly more passive than I wanted her to be. After the kick-ass girl of the previous books who fearlessly escaped life-threatening situations, in Sever she suddenly seemed much more accepting of things she didn’t agree with or want to do. She let people boss her around for no particular good reason and often didn’t fight back. In fact, the climax of the novel was ever so slightly disappointing because Rhine continued to be a passive character acted upon rather than taking her own life into her own hands as she had the previous two books.
DeStefano is a brilliant writer who knows how to navigate the technicality of prose with subtlety and aplomb. I find her narrative easy, clean, and utterly beautiful, and her descriptions and metaphors always break my heart. She has the ability to make me weep over a character I neither care for, identify with, or sympathise with. That’s gotta be the mark of a genius, right?
This is a perfect, if bittersweet ending for the Chemical Gardens trilogy. It couldn’t have ended any other way.