The Chemical Garden

All posts tagged The Chemical Garden

Sever (The Chemical Garden #3) – Lauren DeStefano

Published April 14, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Time is running out for Rhine in this conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Chemical Garden Trilogy.

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.

What did I think?:

I was recommended the Chemical Gardens trilogy by my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads and I believe it’s one of her favourite YA dystopian series. After finishing the final book in the trilogy, Sever, I can definitely see why. If you’re a regular visitor to my blog you know how I dread reviewing second and third books in a series as I’m very wary of giving away spoilers but I’ll do my best to be as vague as possible. I love the world Lauren DeStefano has created in these novels and her characterisation was really on point with fantastic fictional people that you could really see growing and developing over the course of the series.

The Chemical Gardens trilogy is based in a future, dystopian society where a virus with no known cure wipes out the population – women at twenty years old and men and twenty-five. As a result, many girls are forced into marriage at a very young age and encouraged to reproduce as quickly as possible to ensure a future generation while scientists (and the obvious rogue elements that pop up) desperately work to try and find a cure. In Sever, our main character Rhine has escaped the clutches of her villainous father in law Vaughn and is living with Vaughn’s brother, the noble Reed while she tries to hunt for her brother, Rowan and the man she originally escaped with, Gabriel who she developed strong and conflicting feelings for. In this final novel, Rhine finds out a lot more about herself, her family history and about her adversary, Vaughn than she ever could have imagined. However, it is crucial that she treads carefully while seeking her wayward, rebellious brother as Vaughn is determined to imprison her once more for what he believes is the greater good.

The first book in this trilogy, Wither was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The second, Fever was a great addition to the series but I found myself slightly less captivated by it although it was still a good, solid read that I would highly recommend. I approached Sever with slight trepidation wondering if I would get answers to the many questions I had and curious as to how the author was going to wrap it all up. I needn’t have worried as once again the brilliance of Lauren DeStefano’s writing and fascinating plot shone through. I love that this book isn’t all about the romance – a young adult book heavy on romance gives me a bit of the ick factor so it was refreshing that Rhine could stand on her own as a strong young woman who didn’t really need a love interest to tell a compelling story. There isn’t as much action in this series as your average dystopian adventure story but to be perfectly honest, it really didn’t need it. The characters and world they live in are exciting enough without having battles and bloody violence thrown into the mix. If you’re a fan of dystopia and love reading about characters that go on real, emotional journeys this is definitely the series for you. I  actually cannot wait to read more from this wonderful and gifted YA author.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Fever (The Chemical Garden #2) – Lauren DeStefano

Published December 28, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago – surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous – and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion…by any means necessary.

In the 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.

What did I think?:

Fever is the second book in Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy and I have to say I am fast becoming a huge fan of her work. Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion to try and find Rhine’s twin brother Rowen leaving Rhine’s husband behind, but unfortunately danger is not far away. In a world where young women die just as they are becoming adults, the provision of young girls to become brides and provide offspring for men before they pass away is unlikely to change. Not long after the escape, Rhine and Gabriel find themselves once again captured in another strange place, almost like a carnival but where the owner, Madame Soleski, prostitutes her band of girls to men willing to pay a fee to erm… do the business in a fairground like atmosphere, complete with a Ferris Wheel! The girls are all named after colours and Rhine becomes the star of the show, not prostituted herself but forced to perform a perverse display with Gabriel for men standing and watching outside the tent. The girls are kept quiet and submissive through the use of drugs to dull their senses yet keep them aware enough to please the men. Obviously the girls then become addicts and rely heavily on Madame for their supply of drugs, reducing the likelihood of any of them running away.

Throughout their imprisonment with Madame, Rhine desperately tries to think of a way to escape and manages to befriend one of the girls, Lilac who has a young daughter Maddie whom sadly, has been born slightly malformed and is mute. The way the author writes about this character is sensitive and truly beautiful and I felt so touched by her sad existence under Madame yet her intelligence and strength of mind clearly shone through. I’m not giving away any spoilers but Maddie is clearly going to play a big part in the rest of this series and I’m really looking forward to see how she grows and develops. Aside from Rhine’s problems in the twisted carnival, she also has a huge issue to deal with in the form of her father-in-law Vaughn who is intent on finding her and has big plans for her future. The ending of this book is spectacular, a cliffhanger of nail-biting proportions and I don’t think it will be too long before the final book in the series, Sever, makes its way onto my TBR list.

Overall, this is another fantastic read from Lauren DeStefano with such beautiful prose that the reader is just completely sucked into Rhine’s world until the end. In fact, while I was reading it, I was so absorbed in the story that even when I put the book down, I was thinking about it and mulling over which way the author would take the characters next. Rhine is a fantastic character, independent, strong and incredibly readable – I could confidently say that she is one of my favourite (kick ass) female characters in YA fiction. With a dream-like, dark and mesmerising plot in a terrifying dystopian future, Lauren DeStefano manages to grab and hold your attention with a powerful story that leaves you almost begging to know what comes next.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) – Lauren DeStefano

Published April 1, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out? Together with one of Linden’s servants-Gabriel-Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

What did I think?:

Wither is the first in The Chemical Garden trilogy by American author Lauren DeStefano, and a brilliant addition to the explosion of YA and dystopian novels popular at the moment. The author has devised this future and terrifying world where females only live to the age of twenty, and males to the age of twenty-five. Death is caused by a deadly virus which scientists are desperately struggling to find an antidote for, but in the meantime young girls are often captured by people called Gatherers to be brides and mothers at the tender ages of thirteen or fourteen so that geneticists can continue to try and find a cure for the new generation. Our heroine is Rhine, a young girl of sixteen who when we meet her is living with her brother in near enough destitute conditions, attempting to survive, find food and protect their home in a world that has gone mad. Unfortunately, she is captured and taken to a mansion to be one of the wives of House Governor Linden, a move forced on him by his father as his first wife Rose has contracted the virus and is slowly ebbing away, leaving him without any heirs.

Along with Rhine, the two other girls captured to be wives and baby-factories are Jenna who is slightly older than Rhine and quite reclusive and bitter, and Cecily who is three years younger and incredibly naive and ignorant – indeed, she seems to be the only girl who is satisfied with the situation that the wives find themselves in. Rhine forms a beautiful and touching bond with both of her “sister-wives,” but remains determined to be free and independent, refusing to sleep with Linden and desperately trying to find a way back to her twin brother and her old life. When she discovers her father in law may be hoarding corpses for experimentation (all in the name of science of course..) her anger grows and she knows that she has to find a way out. While planning her escape, Rhine keeps Linden sweet and even manages to edge her way into the honour of “first wife,” which carries with it many privileges including freedom into the garden area. Rhine also manages to grow close to one of the servants Gabriel but this makes her life at the house more dangerous so she has to tread very carefully, especially around her father in law who is starting to nurse suspicions about her and who would make a very deadly enemy if he were to find out.

I’m not going to say any more about the plot as I don’t want to spoil anything but in my opinion, this is a fantastic beginning to a series which has bags of potential and oodles of excitement. I loved everything about this new future world – the little bits of science fiction, the concept of a population dying off young and how this is exploited and how Rhine develops as a character during her experience as a wife of Linden. I’ve seen a few negative reviews which question the believability of the novel but I find this quite confusing as A) It’s dystopian, B) It’s a bit science fiction-y and C) It’s A STORY. But hey, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and this novel may not be your cup of tea. It is mine however, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series – Fever to see how Rhine is coping in this scary new world.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0