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Sever by Lauren DeStefano

Sever (The Chemical Garden, #3)

Sever by Lauren DeStefano
My rating: 1.5 of 5 stars

My Rating: 1.5 Stars

It was hard for me, at first, to figure out why everyone seems to love the second and third books in these series and the first one got awful reviews. Because, to me, all three of them were pretty awful.

Then it hit me.

The first book was so bad, that only the diehard fans read the sequels. And then me.

The writing in these books is beautiful. If Lauren DeStefano wanted to write a sappy romance novel, she would probably hit it off pretty big. The thing that brings these books down to the level that they are is that there is absolutely no believability in this world. A dystopian future where girls die at 20 and boys die at 25 (exactly). On their 20th and 25th birthdays respectively, their body somehow succumbs to a virus that kills them. This is just so ridiculous. Maybe if they had been suffering from this virus their whole lives, and then around that age their body’s normally gave way, but it can’t be exactly. You can’t live to be 19 years and 364 days old and then drop dead from a disease.

These books also feature polygamy. I didn’t find this part so hard to read, like over reviewers. The thing that stunned me about this was that we are expected to believe that in this day and age, we have digressed enough to the point where, once again, men are considered the superior gender and women are only useful for child-bearing. We are supposed to believe that women just sat down and took this and didn’t fight it at all.

The biggest fault of believability in these novels was the idea that North America was the only continent left in existence. The polar ice caps melting and World War 3 has left everyone but NA underwater. First, the main part of the novel takes place in Florida. If this were true, Florida would be one of the first areas in North America to sink. Secondly, what happened to the higher altitudes? The Alps just sunk underwater? North America is still on the surface while Sweden is at the bottom of the ocean? Seriously?

Now I know this whole North America being the only thing left thing is explained away by the end of the series, but the fact that so many reviewers didn’t believe it leads me to believe that maybe, just maybe, the Americans wouldn’t believe it either. Maybe some people in America aren’t so gullible that they’ll let their president take away their history books and replace them with his own ideas? Maybe some people in America aren’t so gullible as to blindly believe that North America is the only place left standing? Maybe, just maybe, all American’s aren’t complete idiots.

The one other quam I had with these books was that each book took one step forward and two steps back. In the first book, it took Rhine the entire novel (and the timeframe of a year) to finally escape. That time was filled with images of pretty wives, dresses, candies. In the second book, Rhine finally escapes and by the end, ends up exactly where she started. In the third book, she escapes again, and once again, ends up exactly where she started. These books are less about Rhine’s adventures and more about her changing her mind and not doing the things she is so set on doing.

This is not a post-apocalyptic adventure, it is a distorted vision of a gifted author’s sad fantasy.

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Filed under Sever Lauren DeStefano Wither Chemical Garden Fever 1.5 Stars beautiful writing horrible plot

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Wither - Lauren DeStefano

Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)Wither by Lauren DeStefano
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Before the opening page, there is a quote from a zombie novel I read a while back. I instantly knew I had read it before even before I arrived at the credit.

“This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.”
— T.S. Eliot, Hollowmen

Do you know how many post-apocalyptic books have copied this exact quote? Either stolen it and put it in the novel as works of their own, or quoting it at the beginning of the novel or a chapter. Can we be a bit more original please? Way overdone.

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Right off I get the feeling that this author is attempting to write way above her skill level. The sentences are overly cryptic and forced.

“They keep us in the dark for so long that we lose sense of our eyelids”

Umm… what? I don’t even…

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First grammar mistake? *ding, ding, ding!*

Second page; author uses ‘its’ as possessive.

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Even Microsoft Word will tell you that’s wrong.

Looking past the author’s blatant disregard for common grammar laws, we move on the the main character being ‘noticed’. Oh how swell, this would be a boring story otherwise.

“His eyes, green, like two exclamation marks, meet mine.”

Umm… what?

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“The strange color of my eyes is the first thing anyone ever notices”

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Screaming; “LOOK, I’M SPECIAL!”

Apart from the grammar mistakes in this quote, it’s obvious the author wants us to know just how Mary Sue her character is. HER EYES, HER EYES, OMG HER EYES!

I get to the part where Rhine is ‘chosen’ with two other girls. The guards then shoot all of the girls who were not chose. Tell me this… in a post-apocolyptic world where women don’t live past age 20 (don’t even get me started on this idea) what good could it possibly do to kill a dozen or so sixteen year olds? The only thing I see them doing is killing off potential breeders.

I just died. Might stop reading this sad excuse for a novel, all it is doing is pissing me off and boring me.

We move on and Rhine (along with the other pretty-but-not-as-gorgeous-as-Rhine) brides get married to their mysterious gold-teethed fiancé (and that is supposed to sound attractive? Eew)

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This whole (what, 10%?) of the book is useless and boring. I had to stop myself from putting it down. It’s filled with “I went upstairs”’s “she led me down the hall”’s and “yet another”’s. I’m bored.

“The other brides are dressed in black and yellow versions of my outfit, respectively.”

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Ok… does the author not know how to use the term ‘respectively’? You can’t put it at the end of a description without previously determining who was listed first. And of course, little miss “I have pretty eyes” get’s the only good color dress… red.

I find the author goes off on these tangents. A secondary character will say one sentence and Rhine will bloom into thought about how she used to eat bananas before taking her evening dump. Very obtrusive.
Every time I happen upon one of these, all I can think is “Here we go again”

She is also contradictory to the point of confusion, for example; Rhine mentions she didn’t know much geography at all when asked if she knew what Japan was. Then, not even 3 paragraphs later, she is explaining about how her father was a “world enthusiast.” and had an atlas, where Japan was a favorite of hers. (Why Japan? Just cause? Oissh, of course, the Geisha’s, the only thing anyone in the US seems to know about Japan.)

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Another time, she says Linden did not come into her bedroom. Next sentence; “But in the early hours of the morning, I’m awakened by the turn of the doorknob.” Umm.. ok, who could it be? Linden…

Get your story straight.

How about this… these girls are stuck up in this mansion for a year with all the food they can imagine, sucking on candies all day long… wouldn’t they get fat? I know I would.

And Rhine whines and whines about wanting to leave, but she never actually makes an attempt at it. What does she have to go back to? I’m sure her brother would be fine without her, and it’s not like she had a job or friends. And I’m sure, with Linden head over heels for her, he would be fine with her sending a letter to her brother telling him where she is and that she is fine. Maybe he could even live with them and work in the house, I don’t know, cause she never tries it!

As much as other reviews say that Gabriel is practically nonexistent, he does seem to be around a lot in the first half of the book. And he does seem to have an awful lot of ‘rare’ smiles…

The author goes on and on throughout the novel about how Vaughn is dissecting the bodies in the basement. She assumes this because she saw them wheeling Rose’s body down the hall on a gurney…
Her body was being taken down the hall…
God forbid…

And she is always saying how one day they will all be corpses lines up for his experiments. Excuse me, but how long do you think a body will last? Bodies need to be dissected within weeks of death. By her math, it will be at least 6 years before all four of the sister-wives are dead, I don’t think anyone would want to keep a rotting corpse in their basement for 6 years for study, even someone mad as Vaughn.

I feel I have overdone the face-palm GIFs on this one…

Overall though, the book tied together really well. The polygamy was so farfetched with where we are in today’s society, I wanted to punch the author for even having such a ridiculous plot idea. And I’m sorry, but girls getting some sort of ‘virus’ right after their 20th birthdays, and men doing the same at 25? That’s just fucking stupid. You can’t be healthy your whole life and then BOOM, as soon as you turn 20 you get TB. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

If this took place in a parallel universe, or in the past, where polygamy was common, I would have enjoyed it much more. And it wouldn’t have taken away from the novel much at all because they don’t seem to have computers in this story at all… or phones… or surveillance cameras (don’t you think someone like Vaughn would put up cameras in his basement/laboratory?)

After I got past the boring parts, I enjoyed the book, albeit the massive amount of “OMG, WTF?!”’s.

However, if you care about believability, I wouldn’t bother with it. If you are one who can just brush off a pile of super-important-plot-related-crap that makes absolutely no sense, enjoy yourself. :)

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Filed under Wither Lauren DeStefano crap 2 stars