Wilting in an Ashen Wonderland (Fever – A Book Review)

Fever (The Chemical Gardens Trilogy #2)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Published: 2012

Fever

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull boltHalf bolt

 

Escaping the mansion was just the beginning.

Getting as far as their legs can take them, Rhine and Gabriel are finally free. More dangers lurk as they make their way to Manhattan, Rhine’s home, to find her brother. With Gabriel at her side, she’s more determined than ever. It’s never felt so close. She has to be strong, both for herself and everyone else.

With Gatherers close to recapturing her and other people willing to sell her to the highest bidder, she has to do things she never though she was capable of. But when she’s struck with an ill fever, she has to rely on others to help take care of her and soon enough she isn’t sure she’ll live long enough to see her brother again or to see freedom.

The start of life is always brutal, isn’t it? We’re born fighting.

 

This book really kept up well with its predecessor: Wither. The story expanded into something even more horrifyingly beautiful. DeStefano is still using that talent she has with description to pull me in. She brings so much realism with its phenomenal detail to her characters surroundings and how she incorporates the five senses.

While on the run, something much more sinister than the virus is digging into Rhine’s bones. She doesn’t like to be weak, but can’t stop this illness that has her breaking out into a fever. Gabriel, at her side, helps her as best as he can, but wonders if they should just return to the mansion so she can receive the top medical care in the country. Rhine refuses, though secretly she shares the same thought. How can she find her twin brother in this state? Somehow. She’s giving everything she’s got.

Fever

Finally, we are out of the mansion and into the ashy world. Rhine and Gabriel end up in a lot of new places as they get farther and farther away, but the places that are focused on the most is a carnival where Rhine and Gabriel are forced into yet another form of slavery and an orphanage that becomes a kind of home. Each place is a wonder, but they’re also trapping prisons just like the mansion. I was so taken with the facade of lights and splendor in the carnival and the orphanage really showed just how hard the world is outside of wealth. It’s dark and dismal and much like a graveyard. Very reminiscent of Silent Hill in my opinion; all ashy. Each new place shows how disconnected from the wealth that Rhine had been kidnapped into and Gabriel had become accustomed to.Fever

There was so much growth for Rhine and Gabriel. Rhine really pushed her limits to new places. Even when she broke down with an indescribable illness she strives to figure out how to help her friends and worries about them, that she’s possibly destroyed their lives in the process of trying to save herself. She is no pampered princess. Meanwhile, Gabriel, who escaped the mansion with her, has totally stepped up! I’m so surprised. He still so sweet and his faith in her is never faltering, but there were moments when he threw a damn good punch. As Rhine is protective of him so is he over her. More so, if you recall me making a curious wonder about love being introduced, I was right. It’s so gradual and subtle, which I really REALLY love. These two are making me melt.

Fever

Other characters? Not so much. Linden and Cecily do make their return which made me squirm in my seat, but so does Vaughn. Then there’s the slimy Madame who sells her girls for whatever she can get. A real high class woman there. Not. There are no shortage of villains. There’s also no shortage of heroes for Rhine and Gabriel. There are a few people who help them on their journey and it renews that hope for Rhine that not everyone is an evil Judge Doom (Watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit if you haven’t. Judge Doom is super fucking creepy.).

Still on this ride from Rhine’s up close and personal POV, this book took me much further into Rhine’s head and everything she reflected back on in order to make future decisions. Seeing the gears twist and grind in her head was really heavy. This was beyond simple survival. Even more was when she hallucinated and dreamed while ill. It was horrifying and I felt so much for her. She is one strong cookie.

 

With all of that in mind, would I recommend this book? Yes. It’s horrifyingly haunting and an utter fantasy of a dark world with only a single twinkle of hope that lies within on sixteen year old girl. I was immersed more and more as I read. And I will say that there are plot twists and cliffhangers. They will whip you good.

 

Quotables:

“Ah, love. That’s what the world has lost. There’s no more love, only the illusion of it.” (Madame to Rhine, p.15)

“There are so many of us, so many girls. The world wants us for our wombs or our bodies, or it doesn’t want us at all.” (Rhine, p. 39)

“What does it feel like to know exactly when you’ll die?” (Greg to Rhine, p. 163)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

 

P.S. Song today? On Your Side by Thriving Ivory.

 

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Forever Until There’s Nothing Left (Wither – A Book Review)

Wither (Book #1 of The Chemical Garden Trilogy)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Published: 2011

Wither

My Rating:Full boltFull boltFull boltFull boltHalf bolt

3/25

 

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Because of a deadly virus, women die at the young age of twenty and men at twenty-five. It’s not unheard of that girls are kidnapped right off the sidewalk by Gatherers to be sold and married off to wealthy men, but Rhine never expected it to happen to her. Then suddenly she and two other girls are married off to the rich Governor Linden Ashby and she’s brought into a life of lavish and exquisite slavery. She can have anything she desires, but Rhine is determined to escape by any means necessary so she can get back to her twin brother, Rowan.

“This is my story. These things are my past, and I will not allow them to be washed away, I will find a way to have them back.” (Rhine, p. 22)

 

This book marks 3 out of 25 authors, from my New’s Year’s resolution, that I’ve never read from before. This was Lauren DeStefano’s debut novel I was instantly drawn in because of how dark and twisted the world she created is.

 

Rhine Ellery’s life of survival turns into one of privilege and wealth overnight. She doesn’t want to be in this beautiful mansion and she certainly doesn’t want to be getting married, not at sixteen and not when she’s only got four years before the deadly virus takes her. She wants to be with her brother, Rowan. Now, she’s locked up like a princess in a tower. To get free she’ll have to act like she cares for her husband, Linden, though he genuinely loves her. One of the attendants, Gabriel, helps her with her goal and as she grows closer to them and her sister wives, she starts wondering what’s an act and what’s not. Can she escape? Is she sure she truly wants to?

Wither

Holy shit. This book was pretty good. This is a story’s structure is ruled mostly by its imagery and let me tell you, it was powerful. Everything from the buttons on someone’s shirt to bubbles in the bath to what Rhine eats for lunch is so vivid and colorful. DeStefano really sucked me into this world with all of this up close imagery. I was disturbed and horrified as I read further because this rich world became dark and twisted right quick. A place that nobody is safe in. The plot just thickens and thickens each time Rhine discovers a secret. My stomach just kept churning because of the development of the story. It wasn’t terrible! Not at all! But, a lot of what went on in this mansion was pretty messed up. There was no real love in it. This is a story of sheer survival. Later on down the road could there be feelings? Totally possible.

Rhine is such a strong and smart character. Nothing breaks her stride. While she wants to protect those she cares about, she also stands up for what she believes in and never allows herself to get close people if she can help it. I was actually very surprised with the male characters. Both Gabriel and Linden. They were the damsels; both of them were brought up with silver spoons in their mouths, believing this rich life was okay and never knowing what was underneath.  It was strange because I’ve never come across something like this. And when I say damsel, I mean damsel. They were weak minded, though had strong, kind, and loving hearts. The villain of this book was so creepy! He was nice; the kind of nice you can see right through like saran wrap and see the smart, cunning man who is capable of doing anything without remorse. It was deeply unsettling. All in all, I was greatly surprised by all of the dynamics of the characters. This is certainly a bunch I’ve never seen before. It really made this a fun read.

I have to say, the story being told from Rhine’s POV does get repetitive, but in this case there is the exception. Yes! One does exist. It isn’t DeStefano, it’s Rhine that’s repetitive. She’s clinging on to her life, reminding herself of who she is so that she doesn’t forget. She pushes herself harder because of all she’s lost. It didn’t drive away from this book, but made me even more impressed with Rhine and how strong she is. She doesn’t give up. And the pressure she is under from everything around her and inside of her increases the further the book goes. You really don’t realize the value of the small or large things until your life is put on a time limit. Then every little bit matters. You have to make it last for all it’s worth. This was a primary thought of mine as I read. She holds onto everything.

Wither

I must give praise to the cover art of this book as well. I usually don’t gush over cover art, but I can’t help it. The artwork really blends well with the story with its elegant and eerie touch to beauty. It’s quite haunting and give glimpse of what this world that Rhine’s been pulled into looks like. The geometric lines and magnified/cleared imaging over the wild and steampunk elegance reminded me of the periodic table ; element squares connecting to others. And the title itself is so subtle in reference to not only what the virus does, but what this forced life of luxury does.

Wither

This is a great book. Very different and totally unique. I usually don’t go with the elegant frilly kind of story, but this was seriously dark. I was completely enthralled with this biological, futuristic novel. It’s worth a read.

 

Quotables:

“I do not want to stand out. I do not want to stand out.” (Rhine, p.3)

 “I’ll tell you something about true love. There’s no science to it. It’s natural as the sky.” (Dad to Rhine and Rowan, p. 119)

“Make that boy happy and he’ll give you the world on a string.” (Vaughn to Rhine, p. 228)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

 

P.S. Song today? Thnks Fr Th Mmrs by Fall Out Boy.

 

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The New World Has Blue Corn (The 100: Day 21 – A Book Review)

The 100: Day 21 (The 100 #2)
Author: Kass Morgan
Published: 2014

The 100 Day 21

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull bolt

 

They had been sent to Earth as living test subjects, the first people to set foot on the planet in three hundred years. But they were mistaken.

Some people had never left.

Day 5. Day 11. Day 17. Day 21. 21 days since 100 kids from confinement were put on a dropship and sent down to the Earth to see whether it was finally habitable or not. To see if it’s safe for the rest of Arcadia could come down from space to repopulate the planet. It’s not. Safe that is. There are others, survivors, that survived the great cataclysm that made the world uninhabitable for the last 300 years due to radiation.

There was so much unaccounted for when this mission began so many years ago. What happens if Arcadia malfunctions, threatening the lives of everyone on board? How do you retaliate against a mutiny? How do you try to prove that you’re not foe but friend? That you’re not the delinquents that were sent to Earth just as a last chance?

The lives of those on the ground and those still up in the stars are threatened and they have to figure out a way to protect themselves. Will they resort to drastic, dangerous measures or can there be peace?

 

So this is book #2 of The 100 series. Clarke, Bellamy, Wells, and Glass are all struggling with tough decisions they’ve made, and with the ones they will make.

The 100

Okay, so let’s not yell at me. I know this is the second book. And nope, I haven’t read the first one. This came into the bookstore and the first one didn’t. The bargain store does that a lot-give you every other book in a series except the very first one. I’ve never had an issue reading out of order with a series. I did it with A Series of Unfortunate Events and that’s one of my FAVORITE series aside from Morganville Vampires, which is my #1. As it turns out, that’s all okay. Kass Morgan does a wonderful job in keeping you updated about what’s happened already during these characters’ adventures.

Arcadia (AKA The ARC in the TV show) is split up by class. Ration points determine whether you survive. The smallest infraction could land you in confinement, but only if you’re under eighteen. At eighteen and older you get floated into the dark depths of space. On the ground, 100 kids that were held in confinement for crimes committed on the ship are the ones to discover what’s changed on Earth and if it’s safe. They have no idea what to expect. Radiation? Influenza? Dangerous animals?

What they didn’t expect were other people. The 100 have to figure out how to co-exist or how will the others survive when they come down to join them on the ground?

Thumbs Up

All of that being said, this wasn’t that great of a read for me. I just wasn’t taken with the writing style. The book focuses on four characters’ POVs: Wells, Clarke, Bellamy, and Glass.

Wells is a do-gooder and just truly wants to keep peace and figure out how to make a home. Clarke, like her mom, works to keep everyone safe and in good health, but just like Wells, she doesn’t believe in violence as a solution. Bellamy, hard-headed, but protective of those he cares about and he’s well-known for jumping to conclusions (usually the wrong one). Glass, sneaky and spry, she proves that one will do anything for the ones they love, even get locked up and break out.

This is not what steered me awry though. I don’t mind getting to know multiple characters throughout a book. It’s a great close-up. What I got hung up on was the lack of intensity. These guys are on Earth where nothing is what is seems. This generation doesn’t even know what it’s like because they were raised in space, but I got the vibe that they didn’t treat this experience with enough caution. Everything was taken with a grain of salt. It bugged me. I was scowling a lot.

That also leads me to my next issue with the book. I didn’t find it all that believable. I know, sci-fi/dystopian should be enough to tell me it’s not real, but like any reader, I want to be there in the moment with these characters. I just didn’t get there. Because if I were on a planet that was once called home and I’ve only ever studied it from a classroom then I’d be overly cautious and not all that assuming that everything is okay. I wouldn’t be able to shrug it off. I’d be watching my back. You have to adapt over time, not right away.

More so, some of these plot twists that were constructed in the book were super obvious. I won’t give them away, but each one felt like a whoopie cushion getting sat on. Drawn out fart sounds and all.

The 100

I do watch the TV Show and I have to say, this is one of those rare instances where the show is better than the book(s). There were so many characters that are in the show and aren’t in the book(s). I couldn’t get enough of a visual from the imagery of the book, so I mostly went off of what I’ve seen on the show while I read. Same with what these characters looked. I had no visual to go off of when picturing what they looked like. What really got me the most was the fact that when issues arose they were immediately solved and the happy ending was inevitable. Everybody just made up and forgave each other a little too easily. You what I mean? When there’s a heavy subject approached, one doesn’t just let it go. We humans are funky that way. But by the end of the book that was the case. It made me really itchy and made me make a screwy face.

The character development was much stronger in the show as well. Characters grew stronger with each season and I didn’t feel like there was any growth within the book. Clarke’s character worried me the most in this area. So did Octavia’s. These young women are given an opportunity to be tough and solidify a place in a new world and they didn’t. They fell flat in my opinion.

However, there was one difference between the book(s) and show that was very cool. Bellamy and Clarke are together in the book(s) and when I say together, I mean very together. My heart was pattering away like hummingbird wings at that discovery. I love their relationship on the show and completely accept that they might never be romantic during the entire series. I do believe they love each other though. I totally think they’re soulmates and if one of them bites the bullet the other will, right behind them, as well. And before I go further here’s my thought on that sentence—soulmates don’t have to be romantic; they can be best friends, family, lovers, anything that creates such an intense bond that one won’t make it without the other. They’re lives are so interconnected. And if you’ve kept up with the series so far, you know what I’m saying. Anyway, back on point, in the book the two of them are very involved and it’s so sweet because I’ve wondered what it would be like if they were. They’re such great partners, very strong.

The 100

And for those of you who need that dose of them before the new season promos come up…

The 100

 

I don’t know if I’d recommend this book. I was so iffy. I’m so glad such a great show was inspired and created from it, that’s for sure. And seeing the differences between the two were very interesting and surprising. But I was so thrown off my axis. This just wasn’t my thing.

I say give it a shot, but stay on guard. You could go either way. This one is all about taste. The story isn’t terrible at all.

 

Quotables:

“She’d just saved hundreds of lives—and drastically shortened hundreds more. Including their own.” (Clarke, p. 139)

“Nothing is worth losing our chance at getting to Earth.” (Luke to Sonja, p. 194)

“Its job isn’t to time anymore. It’s to remind us of our past, of all the things that are important to us. It may no long tick, but it carries the memory of every life is recorded. It beats with the echo of a million heartbeats.” (Clarke’s Dad to Clarke, p. 208)

More to come soon…

-K.

 

P.S. Song today? Yellow by Coldplay.

 

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Seeing Red and Silver (Red Queen – A Book Review)

Red Queen

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Published: 2015

red queen - the hollywood reporter

Rating:Full boltFull boltFull boltFull boltHalf bolt

Power is a dangerous game…

 

This does contain a bit of spoilers I believe.

Mare Barrows, the black sheep of her family because of her thieving ways, lives in the Stilts where all lowly Reds live while Silvers live in diamond halls like Gods. All of that quickly changes when it’s discovered that she is closer to being a Silver than a Red. Nothing is what it seems in the lavish life of Silvers however. You can’t trust anybody and Mare has to fight to stay alive and more importantly to keep her family alive. She’s not completely alone in the city of Silvers. Two princes vie for her attention while every other Silver can’t decide if she’s a threat or not to their existence.

This book was one of my nightstand reads so I got to revel in it for a month (reading a chapter or two at night). My mom got it for me for Christmas and I was a little wary because I have trouble getting into books with high castles and knights etc. Red Queen was nothing like that. Stone was in fact diamonds and high rises. The imagery of that alone was mesmerizing. And then, there were the God-like abilities that Silvers were born with. Aveyard certainly has a way with extraordinary scenery and keeping a steady fast pace in this book. I thought of the saying, don’t look back or you’ll miss what’s next, when I read this book.

One of my favorite things about this book is that Mare isn’t the underdog hero, not even for an ounce. She isn’t trying to save everybody. She only wants to protect her family and do something good for once. We’ve all experienced this in our lives and it’s selfishly beautiful. It’s sacrifice at its core. She is strong and a fighter and that is my kind of character.

All in all? I look forward to continuing on with this series because that ending! And no, I won’t tell you, but it’s fantastic and surprising, and I’m not one who likes surprises often.

More to come soon…

K.

P.S. The song today? Take on the World by You Me At Six Well, when I heard it (and put it on repeat) I thought of this book, actually.