Review: The Glass Spare (The Glass Spare #1) by Lauren DeStefano

Title: The Glass Spare
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher/Year:  HarperCollins 10/24/17
Length:   416 Pages
Series:  The Glass Spare #1

Overview

The first in a new fantasy duology, The Glass Spare is a gorgeously told tale of love, loss, and deadly power from Lauren DeStefano, the bestselling author of the Chemical Garden series. Perfect for fans of Shannon Hale and Renee Ahdieh.

Wilhelmina Heidle, the fourth child and only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.

Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, though, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.

But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with Wil’s power.

With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?

My Thoughts

I’ve been on the hunt yet again for something new to read and here we’ve hit directly upon that.  The Glass Spare is the introduction to a new series where we are in a world where kingdoms want more power and control and there are loyalties at stake, and families that are being torn apart.  And what would a book be without curses and ‘gifts’ and the like – right?

We meet our leading character Wil – a princess in Northern Arrod, the ‘most powerful’ kingdom in the area, and she like 2 of her brothers are considered to be spares.  that means the one that’s not due to be the heir is the spare – the extra.  Because of that, Wil is able to have more freedom from the rule of her father, and add to that, she’s got no resemblance to any one in her family, she’s able to move about as she likes and be a spy or unnoticed.

The interesting thing here is that Wil was born with a unique mark over her heart – thought to be a curse but no one really knows what that will mean in the future.  What we see throughout this first book though is how that curse manifests itself and how that affects all those around her – and it doesn’t have the best outcome for everyone involved.  Wil’s close relationship with her brothers bring her both more knowledge about what it is that she’s become as well as more pain because of the implications of what she can do.

Outside of Norhtern Arrod there is a whole world with technology, strife, struggles etc.  and that’s where our story really starts to take shape.  After a catastrophe hits Wil, she’s banished from her home, from her family and she ends up on the run to learn more and find a marveler who may be able to cure her.  That’s where her path crosses with Loom and Zay – 2 wanderers who have stories that are much more than what they seem at first.

Loom turns out to be the banished son of the king of Southern Isles and that’s a kingdom that Wil’s father wants badly.  So this means that Wil has an opportunity to be a spy, learn more and hopefully solidify a relationship.  What ends up happening instead is that Wil starts to develop a truly strong relationship with Loom and Zay, begin to see that there’s so much more to the situation than ever thought before, and find a way to make her curse and a curse put on another main character even worse.

That’s where we are left off at the end of this book – there’s a month to gather information to break a curse or someone dies.  Wil is left to make a choice that will hurt the heart both figuratively and in reality of everyone, and i think that it’s an interesting place to go.  Can’t wait to see what happens in book 2 since we know that the kingdom of Northern Arrod is a mess with all that’s fallen on the royal family.  I hope you guys pick it up!  enjoy!

Review: Sever (The Chemical Garden #3) by Lauren DeStefano

no-brainer

Title: Sever
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster 12/31/13
Length:   400 Pages
Series:  The Chemical Garden #3

Overview

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

With time 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, and she takes refuge in his dilapidated house. However, 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 on 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.

My Thoughts

There’s so much going on in this series so far that you really don’t know what to expect.  I feel there are so many questions that it’s likely that we eon’t get a full resolution for all of the characters but i think that at least we know that Rhine is dead set on finding her brother and getting him to stop what he’s doing.  Will she get there in time though?

Throughout this final installment to the series, there are a few plot lines to follow.  First is the one where Rhine knows what Rowan’s doing and needs to get to him to understand why he is doing it, what their parents were trying to accomplish and hopefully have a better last few years since the hope for a cure is lost. Of course though, the fact that she’s under Vaugh’s watch again, likely she’ll never get free of him, we know that it’s going to be a roller coaster.  Add in Linden, Cecily and their baby, and well things are about to get exciting.

Linden surprises us all by becoming more helpful than we ever imagined.  He’s taken on quite a burden in this book since he’s got his family to protect however you can see that there are true emotions still there for Rhine as much as he wishes there weren’t. On top of that, he’s being told all of these things about his father that go against everything that he has been taught to believe, so it’s going to be a tough coming of age bit of him in this finale in the hopes that maybe he will do the right thing .

There are a few interesting things that happen in this book.  we see that a link is now shown between Rose, Madame and Linden/Vaughn.  We discover this while they are trying to escape to Charleston to find Rowan, and instead find themselves back at the carnival where all hell broke loose last book.  Here though, things are different since we learn that Madame and vaughn have a history that goes way way back, and Rose was Madame’s daughter – so it’s all a circle.  Vaughn clearly has been working to make a name for himself for so long that everything is intertwined.  If that weren’t enough, once they get away from the Carnival (they being Rhine and someone from the carnival), they find Rowan only to learn that Vaughn has his claws in him already too.

the turn that the story takes from there is a complete 180 from what we were led to believe.  There’s so much that as a reader i assumed was going to be proven incorrect, but the fact that our author takes us on a journey to dispell all that we were under the impression of with certain characters makes it that much more dynamic.  Where we end is not at all where i thought, we see more death than necessary and lose some of our favorite characters.  I don’t know if we get a happy ending here – we get an ending, but i think that it was not where i saw the story going throughout.  Sometimes that’s a good thing – reminds me of the ending of Divergent’s trilogy actually where it’s not happy – it’s just an end.  On that note, have a great first day of november!

Review: Fever (The Chemical Garden #2) by Lauren DeStefano

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Title: Fever
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster 2/12/13
Length:   328 Pages
Series:  The Chemical Garden #2

Overview

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but they’re still in danger. Outside, they find a world even more disquieting than the one they ran away from. Determined to get to Manhattan and find Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan, the two press forward, amid threats of being captured again…or worse.

The road they are on is long and perilous—and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and men die at age twenty-five, time is precious. In this 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.

My Thoughts

This 2nd installment takes us on a really tough route with Rhine and Gabriel now that they’ve managed to get out of the mansion and have ‘escaped’.  There’s so much uncertainty out there in the world especially for Gabriel who has almost no memory of outside the house.  We’re hoping that Rhine’s quest for freedom and her goal of finding her brother back home in Manhattan will prove to be something good.

So when we left them, they had escaped and found a boat to sail up the coast.  They end up getting as far as about South Carolina from what i’ve gathered, and when they make landfall, they are hoping for the best.  Sadly, they are nabbed quickly upon getting on land and this is where their first bit of trouble comes.

From what we knew of Jennas life before she was a bride, she worked by selling her body, and it’s one of those camps that we see Rhine and Gabriel taken to.  Rhine of course is deemed to be quite special because of her eyes and that’s probably her only saving grace because instead of being thrown to the wolves to be tasted and sampled, the Madame has loftier goals for her in having people ‘watch but don’t touch’.  So, we see that little reprive and hope that it means that they’ll be able to get to a place that’s safe but of course that doesn’t happen.

Gabriel is beaten and wounded and then hooked on a drug that literally renders him useless and that means that things will have to get even worse.  Vaugh (Linden’s dad) shows up and has found Rhine some how spurring them to go on the run again.  This time though, it’s not just the 2 of them, they have Maddie, the daughter of one of the women at the camp, and Maddie is malformed, she doesn’t talk but we see that she’s incredibly intuitive and helps them as they try to escape and make their way up to new york.

Things continue to go wrong for this group as they make their way up north, they find Rhine’s house but it’s burned out, Gabriel is still suffering from withdrawl, Rhine is molested by someone on the route north, and the moment they find part of what they’re looking for, Rhine starts to get so sick that she fears that the virus is taking her years early, and deems Vaughn some how responsible.

The moment you think Vaughn, he pops up, and well, we end up back at the mansion at the end of this installment.  It’s a complete roller coaster, still with little insight as to what’s causing the virus and early death of their generation, and we can only hope that we get that resolution when we get through the final installment.  Cecily comes back into the mix as does Linden and we see that there’s so much eye opening that has to happen and so much faith that has to be placed in places you’ never expect that it leaves us wondering if there’s going to be a happy ending for anyone.

We’re on a journey of really trying to figure out what’s right and who’s behind it.  There’s a relationship growing between Rhine and Gabriel, but given where they are in life and time, you don’t even know if it’ll be worth it.  We also learn more about Linden and his feelings and i think that we’ll see him become someone quite key in the mix since he’s really been lied to his whole life.  So all that tied together leaves us set up for a really great finale i think.  Son v. Father, and Society v. Medicine.  who will win?

Review: Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano

no-brainer

Title: Wither
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster 12/6/11
Length:   384 Pages
Series:  The Chemical Garden #1

Overview

What if you knew exactly when you’d die? The first book of The Chemical Garden Trilogy.

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males born with a lifespan of 25 years, and females a lifespan of 20 years—leaving the world in a state of panic. Geneticists seek 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 sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Yet 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 has no way to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive.

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?

My Thoughts

To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of this story since the cover art makes it look all victorian but the premise if obviously dystopian.  We learn very little of what put them into the position that they are in with girls females dying at 20 and males dying at 25, aside from the thought that there was something to do with the prior generation all being the result of artificial insemination.  They are living in a time where all of the diseases that we know in 2016 are gone, and this first generation are healthy, but their children are not.

Girls are sought out by Gatherers who are on the hunt to find brides for the wealthy and that’s where we meet Rhine – after she’s been caught and has been taken from her twin brother to Florida where she becomes the wife of Linden.

The undertone of this story is one of hope, of the quest for freedom and of building bonds where they are least expected.  Rhine has 2 other wives that were purchased at the same time she was and while they are there all for the same reason, their take on what their experiences are become quite different.  We see Rhine forge friendships with one of the wives but not the other since she can’t be trusted as we learn throughout the story.

In addition to that, we are in the story before Linden’s current wife dies and we see Rhine create a friendship there with her – so that she can become the ‘first wife’ in the hopes to gain more freedom.  In doing this, she inadvertently finds commonalities with Linden, but are they enough to keep her from trying to escape?

The other bit to this as the summary noted is that Rhine gets help from Gabriel – one of the attendants at the mansion.  Gabriel doesn’t remember anything other than the house and because of that, he doesn’t see things necessarily like Rhine does, but what he does see is that there’s something special about her that calls her to him, and not only does it get them into trouble, but it becomes the lead out of this book.

The biggest question is though what’s out there to make life better for them and is there an antidote to the virus that kills everyone of their generation.  Are we going to see Linden’s father continue to be the horror that he is or will he show some type of human side that makes us question it even more.  Will Linden finally realize that maybe his father has orchestrated everything in his life so that he opens his eyes to see that he’s stronger and more independent than his father lets on.  And i guess the biggest question of all is whether Rhine will get her freedom and at what cost?  I know that it’s not going to be easy especially since there are 2 more installments still in this series to prove out that it’s going to get chaotic, but i can’t wait to see how it all turns out.  Enjoy!