Sever by Lauren DeStefano
The Skinny: After ending up in the hospital after Housemaster Vaughn’s experiments on her, Rhine finds refuge with Linden’s uncle, who is Vaughn’s slightly eccentric estranged brother. Rhine’s brother Rowan is becoming more involved in the resistance, his actions becoming more public, and she is determined to find him to convince him to stop his destructive actions. With the help of Linden and Cecily, who have finally come to realize how evil Vaughn actually is, Rhine sets off, retracing her path to her brother. But her reunion with her brother is more than she expected in the worst sort of way.
BFF?: My opinion of Rhine has been pretty steady throughout the series, weaving and flowing a little as she’s changed, but ultimately I think she’s been one of my favorites. I love the fact that she isn’t kick-ass. She doesn’t know how to shoot a bow and arrow, she doesn’t lead rebellions, she doesn’t become a hero… she’s just a girl trying to make it to her 20th birthday. She’s dealing with so much and handles it with a grace and strength that I don’t think many could. I’ve loved watching her grow and become more and more likable, able to handle things I know I wouldn’t be able to!
Readability: This series has been so beautiful to read. It’s smart and poetic, emotionally tearing. In places where the story could be weak, it’s strengthened by the prose, which I love.
Crush Level: 8
I’ve loved Linden in this series, I really have. He’s like this sweet guy who makes you want to pinch his cheeks, but underneath you know he’s really a tiger. Okay, maybe that’s lame, but seriously, I loved him. I’ve loved getting to know him. And I wanted Rhine to end up with him despite knowing it could never work. But then there’s Gabriel, who really is wonderful. He’s not quite as developed as Linden in the grown-up department, but still super romantic and swoony and… well you get the picture. While this should have been a hard choice, it really wasn’t.
Also, comment on the crush levels for this series – I know it’s easy to think you can only love one person and you have to end up with one of the people in the love triangle, but… maybe I should save this for the commencement speech!
Not to get all spoilery on you, but the phrase “history is written by the winners” (okay, that’s probably a total misquotation of this phrase) is really explained in this novel. It was exciting and shocking to see the truth about Rhine’s world come out!
We all know that Housemaster Vaughn has been doing lots of experiments on different people, trying to find a cure, but now we finally get to see what he’s REALLY been up to! Let me just say… it’s a lot more disturbing than we ever realized.
The Chemical Garden
Maybe I missed it in the previous books, but I had no clue what “chemical garden” actually was. It was interesting to see where the name of the series actually came from and to get a little background on it!
Commencement Speech: Okay, so back to what I was saying about love. I think this series has taught me about how to love, that love comes in all forms. When it comes to triangles, we always think she has to choose guy 1 or guy 2 and if she doesn’t choose the one we wanted her to choose we either deny her choice or argue that she should have chosen the other one. And I mean, obviously you can’t BE with both of them, but why does it have to be a choice between love and unlove? I am a firm believer that, while Rhine didn’t want to BE with Linden, she still loved him very, very much. I like that message…
Anyway, about Sever. After two very dark, very serious books in this series, I’m glad this one took a lighter tone. Sure, it was still very dark and serious, but filled with the one thing both Wither and Fever seemed to lack: the hope that in the end, things will be fine. They weren’t, but it wasn’t so much doom and gloom throughout the pages. I loved seeing hope slowly coming into Rhine’s life; it was quite beautiful.
Another thing I’d be remiss not talking about would be Housemaster Vaughn. As scary as he is, he is one of my favorite characters from this series. I liken him to President Snow from the Hunger Games… he’s not inherently evil, just going about his methods in the most diabolical way possible. His intentions are good, his actions are evil. I loved getting to see more of him in Sever, seeing behind the curtain so to speak. It made him… better, in my opinion. Still high on the best villains list!
Overall, lovely series. Definitely one that has stuck with me over the years and will continue to stick with me for years to come. I’m super excited about more from DeStefano and can’t wait to read anything and everything she writes!
Yearbook Quote: “Sometimes we don’t know how afraid we are until we’ve reached a strange door and we don’t know what will be on the other side.”
Superlatives – Best explanation of what love can be!
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