Monday, December 9, 2013


by Lauren DeStefano
4/5 stars
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013
371 pages
YA Dystopia Conclusion

Source: Library

I fell hard for the cover of first book Wither and while neither it nor sequel Fever completely earned my love, I was engaged enough to follow the series through to its conclusion. I think my main my problems are that I have never fully felt engaged with Rhine who has seemed very removed, that my favorite parts are the interaction with the other sister wives which was most prominent in book one, and that I like husband Linden over servant Gabriel even if she had freedom only in choosing the latter.

My main feeling from this book is that it made me feel like I was in a drugged-out haze too following Rhine around as she tries to find her twin brother Rowan and escape the machinations of Vaughn. She just seems so personality free to me. On an intellectual level, I understand not wanting to be forced into marriage, wanting to find a cure so that you don't die at age 20, and wanting to be reunited with your sole living relative. But I never felt those in the character of Rhine. When I connect with a book, I feel the main character's pain and struggles no matter how much they vary from my own life experiences. Never the case here.

Remember how I mentioned potential love interests Linden and Gabriel? Both get pretty shabby treatment here. If you were invested in romance between Rhine and either guy, I think you will be pretty disappointed. Neither boy's life wrapped up in a satisfying fashion. Vaughn's ultimate fate is the more pleasing one though still strangely anticlimatic to me.

Another disappointment to me is the reference to Chemical Gardens. That is the title for the trilogy and yet I feel like it's only in this book that we start exploring what that means and not even in full detail. I have read all three books and I'm still not sure I could explain what they are. (I think they are where Rhine's parents experimented to come up with a cure.)

As I wrote this review, I realize I pretty much only had complaints and yet I gave it 4 stars. My rating system is obviously a bit bonkers but 4 is really the rating I felt in my gut when I completed the book. While I had hoped for an ending to completely blow me away, I do accept the ending in this book and I am very aware that I've read more disappointing conclusions. Hope is a big theme in the novel and that is what ultimately redeems it for me. I want to live in a world with hope and I like that this book allows for this even if other areas were less than for me.

Other Opinions:
Into the Hall of Books
Katie's Book Blog 
Simply Books


  1. Oh! I loved the first book, but by the time the second book came out I had lost that... initial thing you feel. Darn it, maybe I should read the whole thing now that they are all published.

  2. I wasn't invested enough in the series to read past the first book though I did like it because it introduced the world. I liked the parts with the sister wives too and Rhine's relationships with them. Kind of reminded me of The Selection in that regard. I am glad that the final book wasn't completely disappointing even if it didn't work as well in wrapping up explanations or the romantic elements.

  3. This is one of my top three favorite series and honestly, I think I feel pretty opposite of you in almost everything you listed, which I really love. I find that many of the people that I discuss these books with feel EXACTLY the same as you and I haven't found but two other people (my IRL friends, neither super big readers) that are as fully invested in this series as I am. I was absolutely petrified of reading this conclusion because I was so attached to all of the characters and I knew that no matter how it ended somehow my heart would break. And I was right - but I also felt like it was the best ending for the story and that all of the loose ends were wrapped up. I agree with what you say about the elaboration on the actual Chemical Gardens - I think they perhaps waited a little late to talk about them or maybe they could have included more about them along the way? At any rate, I'm glad to see that you've finished the series, that you stuck with it given your reservations, and that you found it a 4/5. This is one series that I will read over and over (every time I read it, I find new things in the story) and I am absolutely in love with all three of the covers for these books.

    Great review. Loved reading your thoughts!

  4. Ugh, I loathed the first one so much. The world just made no sense.

  5. Great review :) I'm glad you enjoyed it. I actually gave it a five stars, though I think I was being too nice. Because when I think of it, I did NOT think it was that good. A three, at most :\ Sigh. I adored Gabriel so much and I HATED how he got treated in this book. Meaning, he wasn't even there. Unfair. Sigh. Anyway. Thank you for sharing. <3

  6. I still liked the first the best, but thought it was a good wrapup

  7. I think I enjoyed Fever more than you did (I totally understand the drugged out haze though) so I'm glad that while there were parts you didn't like, ultimately this book got 4 stars. I don't know if hope is as important to me, but I do like Rhine. I like that she's sensible.

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  8. I really liked the first book, but the second book wasn't as good for me. I haven't read this one yet. I'm glad that you enjoyed it. I will get around to reading next year, I do want to know how it all ends.

  9. I've got Wither & Fever on my kindle, I'll get to them sometime but I'm glad to hear the final book isn't a huge disappointment!!

  10. Ha - I was thinking that as I read your review: why did she give this four stars? I completely understand how you feel and yet … every time I read one of these books they cast a weird kind of spell over me (Maybe that's what you meant by "drugged out haze?") Anyway, I feel so completely immersed in the world as I read and that rarely happens to me...

  11. I think you summed up my feelings for the first two, I never felt a real connection. So I never tried to read this one. But if your overall feel was that you did like it, then it's probably worth me finishing the trilogy and seeing where things end up.
    That's why I like star ratings. Sometimes the negatives (or positives) are easier to explain but you can't always be clear on how it really made you feel in your gut.


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