Author: Lauren DeStefano
Release: February 21st 2012
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, YA
#2 in the Chemical Garden trilogy
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.
I would give this 2 or 2.5 stars if I wouldn't still have enjoyed this for reasons beyond me.
This book wasn't good. Not really. I skimmed a lot of it, because I got bored after a while. There's more going on in this sequel than in Wither, but at the same time there isn't. Rhine and Gabriel have escaped and are on the move across the country, which sounds nice and like things would start happening, but not really. The first 120 pages or something they're stuck at a prostitution camp, but they escape and then Gabriel is sick and has a fever, Rhine cares for him and then they simply switch. Suddenly, Rhine is delirious and out of it, with Gabriel there worrying beside her bedside. The last stage of the book was, well, it was what it was. It wasn't something where you could expect action and suspense happening, really, but still. I was disappointed.
And yet. I still tore through this. I honestly don't know what it actually is that's keeping me into the story. Is it the characters? The plot? The world?
I don't think it's the plot because I haven't seen much plot in this novel. During the first installment, Rhine had a plan: become first wife, escape and find her brother. She still has the goal of finding her brother, but she has no plans whatsoever and literally just stumbled around in the dark. I didn't like that. Furthermore, everything that happened had a hollow ring to it and I couldn't feel it, you know? Didn't feel like I was there while it happened. Sad.
The characters? Maybe. My eyes could be playing tricks on me, but I think Rhine has gotten stronger in this book. She develops a little. Not very much, but still, it's something. Gabriel, however, does nothing. Nothing but be dead weight, 'scuse me. First, he has the sickness which is complicating things a little, and next he's constantly worrying about Rhine and holding her hair back while she's being sick. He was sweet, but his characterization lacked so much, I dare say it wasn't even there. It made me so angry, because I really loved Gabriel before. I still do, it's not his fault the author neglected his characterization so much. My poor Gabriel.
Other characters that we meet along the way are flat. Maddie, the mute kid Rhine and Gabriel pick up along the way seemed to me almost like a nuisance and nothing more. Lilac, who helps them escape once, was okay. Claire was flat. Silas had a bit of a character arc and interaction with Rhine, which I liked, and his character was intriguing. For a second, I was worried he'd be another love interest but thank God he isn't. At least not yet. Linden though, where he lacked depth before, he finally got a bit of definition to his character, he showed real emotions. Linden was finally real. Whereas in Wither, he seemed like a ghost without a mind of his own, he took actions and said words that came from his own heart. Props.
The world? Hmm, we get a teeny tiny bit more backstory and explanations of the world, but it's already very vivid. What I missed, though, was the relevance of this. I thought, in this sequel, we would finally be getting to the heart of this society and see what message this trilogy is trying to convey. This is dystopia after all, isn't it? So, what's the moral of the story? Don't cure cancer or STDs, because it might end bad? Don't treat women like baby machines? Polygamy isn't that bad? I couldn't really see a deep, conflicting message.
There were some meaningful quotes, though. I loved Rhine's way of thinking, of weighing options and what she has (or doesn't have).
“What are you thinking?“ Gabriel asks. He demands nothing of me, and there's only one thing keeping me beside him: “Choice,“ I say softly. “I'm thinking about choice.” And I lean forward and kiss him.
This is the freedom I craved throughout Linden's and my marriage. To share a bed not because of a wedding ring or a one-sided promise that was made for me, but because of desire. Inexplicable yet undeniable.
Or, this one, which was also really nice:
“Remember the story you told me, about the kites? Well, I tried making some out of paper, but they wouldn't fly. I figured it out eventually,” she says. “It's momentum.”
“What?” I whisper.
“Momentum,” she repeats. “You can't just stand there if you want something to fly. You have to run.”
Now, though, let's talk about one thing that is most definitely one of the things keeping me to the trilogy, and something I totally forgot about in my review of Wither: That cover design. It is so, so wonderfully beautiful and unique. And every part of the book is like that. Everything, and the motifs are so pretty as well — I don't know. It has something quirky about it, and it's something different. Definitely loved and adored that. Also, the different textures of the covers, everything within the circles is sheer and glossy and the rest normal. Then, the color scheme of the books too, with those attracting color palettes, you know:
That neon pink with the neon green (it's neon, you can't see it that well) seems like an eye cancer combination at first, but really, it's quite the eye catcher rather. I am very fond of it.
All that being said, I was still able to enjoy Fever more than I ought to, and I'll be picking up Sever right this instant. I am hoping it will get better again, but I'm sure I'll still like it well enough. For better or for worse.