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Review of Sever: It’s as Painful as it Sounds

Published March 8, 2013 by Ashley Townsend

sever

When I first read Lauren DeStefano’s “Wither,” I was enthralled. It was intriguing, fantastic, crazy, confusing, mysterious, and an all-in-all well-rounded book and story idea. Plus, every single book cover in her trilogy is A-MAZING! Then “Wither” ended on a sort of cliffhanger, so you can imagine my excitement when “Fever” came out last year. . . . . . . . Umm, yeah. Don’t judge a book by its bubblegum pink and carnival-themed cover. Two words: “Blek” and “Huh?”

But that wasn’t going to stop me! I figured that “Sever”—one of my top anticipated books of 2013 if you refer to previous Book Extravaganza posts—would totally redeem the series, be extremely refreshing after the disappointment of “Fever,” while also answering all of my torturous questions. Again: Umm, yeahhhhhh. My older sisters DeAnna and Elizabeth read it first, and DeAnna actually threw her brand new hardback copy—*GASP*—across the room when she was done. So obviously I had to read it for myself and wouldn’t allow them to give any spoilers, though their utterly shocked and irate reactions should have caused me to steer clear.

Now beware! This review and general rant about a could-have-been-great story WILL contain spoilers, and also some possibly graphic death sequences that may or may not involve sporks and letter writing.

Right off the bat I was intrigued by the first sixty pages of the book. I was glad that Rhine didn’t make me want to throw up and was actually a good character, that she and Linden were “back together,” however frosty he may have been at first, and that it seemed they were going to take that crazy-head Vaughn down. But then it just kept dragging on, so let me give you a brief rundown of the book’s plotline as though we’re actually in the story; it’s much more “riveting” this way. ~__^

We’re at Uncle Reed’s, though I actually enjoyed those parts because he ended up being my favorite character. Vaughn is still a crazy and manipulative, so let’s escape—the logical thing to do, UNTIL……

Oopsies, we’re back at Madame’s carnival from “Fever.” Seriously? We couldn’t have taken the I-8 instead of the 15? Lauren threw in some interesting twists in this portion of the book, such as the fact that Madame is actually the mother of Rose, Linden’s first-first wife. At this point, we’re still intrigued. That will quickly pass, I assure you.

Finally, Rhine gets in touch with her long-lost twin brother, who is now a crazy warlord that blows stuff up. . . . . AT VAUGHN’S BIDDING!!!! Yes, I know—close your mouth. He, too, is a puppet of the crazed scientist. And this is the part that really bothered me: An unnecessary lack of communication, which always curls my toes in books. Rhine’s brother is so enamored with the genius Vaughn that she doesn’t have the heart to tell him that this evil man has killed people and experimented on her. But, hey, why get between a mad scientist and his protégé? Let’s move on. After that, it’s sixty pages of Vaughn talking and the three of them traveling. No, seriously, I counted the number of straight pages, and there was more evil plan-recounting for long stretches later on in the book. Boring and monotonous, but at this point—despite the fact that our eyes are glazing over while he rambles on—I’m still like, “Okay, this isn’t so bad. Why were the girls freaking out?”  

Then Vaughn brings her back to the mansion. Oh, and small side note: In “Fever,” Rhine had been drugged and kidnapped by Vaughn. She willingly left her and Gabriel’s safe haven in the middle of the night without telling Gabriel—again, lack of communication. So he didn’t know where she was. Oh, wait, yes he did! TWIST: He saw her leaving with Vaughn and sacrificed himself by going with her, unbeknownst to our unconscious heroine. Oh, yeah, and he’s been in the basement for the past couple months, which she finds out upon arriving back at the mansion in “Sever” and does nothing about it! This also bothered me, since the guy sacrificed himself for her and she can’t bring herself to take the elevator down two floors? Oy! Also another jump-ahead-side-note: You don’t see Gabriel, the love interest whom she ends up with, until the last six pages of the book, and even then she acts like he’s second best. Why, you may ask?

BECAUSE LINDEN WAS KILLED IN A RIDICULOUS ACCIDENT! Right after he and Rhine had this beautiful moment, and he told her he still loved her, and the sun was shining, and everything was going to be perfect. Then BAM! I knew by my Team Linden sisters’ reactions that he had to die or not end up with Rhine. But how ridiculous and unwarranted and awful could his death really be? Let me tell you: They go for a joy ride in a little plan, he pours out his heart to her, they smile (the kiss of death), experience some turbulence, he gets the teensiest bump on his head, and ends up bleeding out from his eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. Yes, literally every orifice on his head. I was reading it at dinner, because the girls saw where I was and kept nudging each other, so I knew I was close. But I was so shocked that I didn’t even know what to say. They were laughing at my reaction and said my mouth was open and that I was totally flushed. I kept waiting for him to come back to life. No such luck. And then about five minutes later, after just sitting in dumbfounded silence, I finally felt a spark of anger and was highly tempted to torch the book, literally, over an open flame, and you know how much I respect books.

I was so shocked and ticked that he dies without any warning that I, with Elizabeth’s inspiration, devised several other ridiculous and meaningless and horrible ways he could have died. These are about the same caliber as the stupid plane accident.

~Linden is writing Rhine a beautiful love letter, expressing all of his feelings and apologizes for being so frosty. He goes to put the letter in the mailbox, sees a cute squirrel, gets distracted, and accidentally gets a paper cut. Turns out he’s a hemophiliac. It wasn’t even the letter opener or wax seal that did him in. Yeah, that stupid.

Scenario #2: Linden is driving his convertible through a fast food drive-thru. He’s in a hurry to go meet Rhine because he’s finally going to tell her how he feels. He collects his food and plows through the drive thru when one of the attendants throws an unwrapped spork out the window to a waiting customer. The harmless plastic spork lodges in Linden’s eye, he swerves, and drives into one of those electrical donuts. Did I mention he drove his convertible despite the rain? You fill in the rest.

Scenario #3: I imagine this involves a sweet meet-and-greet with dolphins gone terribly awry at Sea World. Hint: He had packed a sack lunch of chips, an apple, and a mackerel sandwich in in his wetsuit pocket. (Kind of reminds me of the Lacramose Leeches scene, for those of you who’ve read the Series of Unfortunate Events)

Alas, my most anticipated book of the year made me want to shove a spork in my own eye. And they didn’t resolve anything until the last eight pages of the book, and even then it was almost like we were reading the author’s plot notes or special monologue. *Sighs dramatically* Here’s to hoping “Requiem” doesn’t disappoint! -__- (That is a very unfeeling emoticon, in case you were unsure of how high my hopes were that the other books I’m looking forward to will actually turn out well) 

The progression of my many reactions to “Sever”:

sever 7

When Sever arrived, this is what came at the mailman:        “It’s HEEEEEEEERE!!!!”

When they arrived back at Madame's: "Seriously?"

When they arrived back at Madame’s: “Seriously?”

I believe I developed narcolepsy from Vaughn's prolonged diatribe.

I believe I developed narcolepsy from Vaughn’s prolonged diatribe.

sever 3

This was me about halfway through the book.

This was me about halfway through the book.

Then Linden DIES!

Then Linden DIES!

It was a scratch! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

It was a scratch! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

sever 1sever 4

Novel Inspiration: Characters

Published February 27, 2013 by Ashley Townsend

Here are a few of my selections from my Novel Inspiration board on Pinterest for the cast of Rising Shadows. Later on I’ll create a Novel Inspiration page on here, so check back periodically, because I might change some of the cast and keep adding new photos for your pleasure. There are plenty more where these came from, so check out my Pinterest link on the left to see what else has been floating around in my head. 😉 One of the perks to being an author is that I get to spend hours looking through pictures of gorgeous scenery–and people–on Pinterest and get to call it research! Remember that I love to hear from you! If you like what you saw or have some opinions of your own, shoot me an email at ashleytownsend.author@yahoo.com

Sarah Matthews:

This overall look. Heart-shaped face, blue eyes, arched brows, just a little tanner.

novel inspiration, Sarah blond

This girl’s wavy hair and color.

novel inspiration, Sarah

William Taylor:

Derek Theler is exactly how I imagined Will: chiseled jaw, 6’5, wavy hair (though Jason Behr’s color, on right), and great blue eyes. Oh, yeah, and he’s bult like a truck. That doesn’t hurt my image of Will.

novel inspiration, Will novel inspiration, Will hair

Karen Ashmore:

I thought this girl was just gorgeous and totally reminded me of Karen with her hair and fair skin, though her face is a little more round and babydoll-ish in my head. And she could seriously pass for Sarah, as well, with her blue eyes and face shape.

novel inspiration, Karen 2

Lilly Matthews:

Totally Sarah’s little sister! This is pretty much exactly how I pictured Lilly.

novel inspiration, Lilly

Seth Jones:

I could definitely picture Armie Hammer playing Seth, literally the boy next door. Armie is really funny and charming and friendly, and he has this great, easy grin that is 100% our favorite farm boy. A little more red in his hair, and ta-da! Seth Jones, ladies and gentlemen!

novel inspiration, Seth

Allan Miller:

Oh, yes, we love to hate him, people. Chris Pine has that same cocky edge that I imagined for Allan, Will’s not-so-faithful assistant.

novel inspiration, Allan

Thomas Greene:

He was probably one of my favorite back-story characters to write for Rising Shadows. After watching Tron:Legacy, I could definitely picture Bruce Boxleitner playing Thomas. He’s handsome, kind, has salt-and-pepper hair, and is a good enough actor to do Thomas justice.

novel inspiration, Thomas

Gabriel Dunlivey:

Blek, blek, and blek at that name! Not at all an insult to this guy, whose name I can’t recall at the moment, but he kind of reminds me of Gabriel, though this guy is less slovenly.

novel inspiration, Gabriel Dunlivey

And now for some characters you have yet to meet! Beware teensy spoilers!

Damien Lisandro:

Oh, you handsome devil, you! I saw this picture and actually changed Damien’s scruff so that it looked more like this. The Lord Lisandro completes my favorite type of triangle as old alliances fall away and new ones begin in the sequel to Rising Shadows. I had to throw in a Spaniard for my sister Katie, and I think you’ll really like him too!

novel inspiration, Damien

Jade:

Yep. Just Jade, as of now; I can’t reveal too much yet! She and Will have a past that is a bit of a mystery, and the scene involving her was inspired by Florence and the Machine’s “Heavy in Your Arms” (you all know how obsessed I was with that one!). But this younger version of Penelope Cruz is totally how I envisioned Jade.

novel inspiration, Jade

Mr. Emerald:

Will’s newest assistant. I’m trying to decide if the name I have for him will work in the book or if it needs to be altered.

novel inspiration, Todd

On the Tenth Day…

Published December 15, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Ten Super Cool (and mostly hairy) Dwarves!

ten 2

Saw The Hobbit with my sister, Liz, today and thought I should do something in honor of these awesome dwarves. I’ve seen all the movies, though I’m not a super-fan of the “Lord of the Rings” franchise, and enjoyed the movie. But, seriously, these guys stole the show for me (especially Kili, who’s fourth from the right. He shoots arrows in the fight scenes. It just screams Ashley!). However, I couldn’t wait nine more days to reveal exactly why I went to see The Hobbit in the first place. One word: Thorin

thorinI mean, come on!  He’s just too cool. Soooo…

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,

One oober cool prince with an oak shieeeeeeld!

I held that last note for some time. And he was beyond awesome in The Hobbit, and we are so relieved he’ll be in the next two. YES! 

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