Synopsis from Goodreads
Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.
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
I'm not sure what compelled me to read this book considering it's predecessor, Wither, failed to deliver an appealing story but I suppose having read various reviews claiming that Fever was an improvement and then being bombarded with Sever hype ultimately persuaded me to give this book a try.
I'd like to start off by saying yes, this book is definitely a step-up from Wither. We finally get a taste for the outside world that Rhine was craving for in the first book although not at the scale that I was anticipating. The world-building still lacks logic so when we're introduced first-hand to a dystopian world full of kidnappings, polygamous marriages, prostitution and child molestation there is no shock factor present and despite DeStefano's best attempts, the horror we're meant to feel fails to exist.
The characterisation took a somewhat big step forward though. Rhine became more bearable in this instalment with her new courageous, survival-orientated attitude and I found her to be more realistic although still not particularly memorable. DeStefano introduces us to some new intricate characters such as the mute Maddie - malformed and emotionally challanged, she proved to be an intriguing child - her mother Lilac, a sad and bitter prostitute; Silas, an orphan with conflicting emotions; and Madame, a delusional sexual exploiter who is, basically delusional.
Rhine and Gabriel's romance felt a little too much like watching paint dry. There was no chemistry and no real emotion between them that would have ultimately cemented their relationship in the end. Gabriel was more of a whiny puppy constantly fretting over Rhine, which was sweet at first but gradually became rather annoying as the plot progressed.
I found myself to be impressed with the plot twists and on several occasions I was hitting a brick wall regarding my guesses as to what happens next. I also noticed an improvement in the writing - it developed a more vibrant prose and it's fluency captivated me throughout.
I'm still not overly fond of this series but I'm anticipating the final instalment Sever although without high expectations.
Rating: 3/5 stars