One of my best friends gave me this book for my birthday last year, and she was totally right about it: it was great, and I loved it! From charactersOne of my best friends gave me this book for my birthday last year, and she was totally right about it: it was great, and I loved it! From characters to location to plot, this book was entertaining in every way.
Kiki Strike is a fascinatingly mysterious character. For much of the book, even her sometimes-supposed-best friends don't know who she really is, but when her true identity is revealed, the motivations behind her every action become clear.
Kiki isn't the only interesting character, thankfully. Kiki's group of friends, the Irregulars, each have their own unique charms, even our narrator, Ananka, who initially assumes she's nothing special. I love the idea of a band of misfit girls banding together and using their brains and skills to explore hidden tunnels through their city, uncover mysteries, and rescue kidnapped victims. In each other, these girls discovered true friends who shared each other's interests and supported each other through thick and thin.
I love the idea of a Shadow City existing below even the subway tunnels of New York, a place no one knew existed that held it's own mysteries and treasures, just waiting to be found. It's a little disappointing that (view spoiler)[Kiki brought the girls together not for pure exploration and preventative tunnel mapping, but to break into her evil aunt & cousin's house to find the clue that would lead her to the letter her murdered mother wrote, proving that her sister was the one who poisoned her. I get where she was coming from, and she truly couldn't have done it without the other girls. The original intent doesn't negate the excitement of the time they spent down in the tunnels or the bond that eventually develops between the girls. (hide spoiler)] One of the most important things Kiki and the others learn is that they can do more together than any one of them can do apart, and that' an important lesson for all kids to learn, both girls and boys.
I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series, not only because I want to see (view spoiler)[Kiki take Sidonia and her mother down and reclaim her throne (hide spoiler)], but because the adventures the Irregulars are going to have will undoubtedly be epic. I can't wait to follow along as they grow up and see what life has in store for them. I also can't wait for my nieces to be old enough to read these books. They're right on the edge right now, and I think in a year or two, they will just devour this series. Having smart, adventurous, brave role models is especially important for girls, especially in our current culture that bombards girls with all things pink and princess.
Kiki, Ananka, Betty, DeeDee, Luz, and Oona are far from perfect, but they represent a wide variety of girls, all of whom stand up for themselves and refuse to conform to what society expects of them. Girls can be into fashion and costumes, but girls can also be into books or science or technology or martial arts. It's a big world, and my hope for all my nieces is that they know they can do anything they want. I hope they dream big, and work hard to fulfill their dreams.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This final book of the chemical garden trilogy was much more enjoyable than the second because we actually got action, answers, and resolution.
We finaThis final book of the chemical garden trilogy was much more enjoyable than the second because we actually got action, answers, and resolution.
We finally got to meet Rhine's twin brother, Rowan. I'll admit, it was really frustrating to see Rhine so submissive the second she got around her brother. Here we have a fierce, strong girl who fought for her freedom against the tyrant and murderer who was holding her captive and experimenting on her, but the second her brother says, "but no, he's cool, he has reasons and they're good ones," Rhine goes along with them silently. She fought her way out of the that mansion, but once she was back with her brother, (view spoiler)[she agreed to go back to it with him, and agrees to convince Cecily and Linden to do the same. Of course, those 2 don't need convincing: Linden, despite coming to know the truth about his father, still wants to see the best in him. Cecily will go wherever Linden and Rhine ask her, and has own you-maybe-killed-my-baby revengey motives for wanting to see Vaughn again. (hide spoiler)]
I'll admit, over the course of this book, I came to see Rowan's point of view, to see why Vaughn has acted the way he has, and though it's still cruel and heartless, in a greater-good way, it makes sense. Knowing what we know of him, though, and feeling all the people he has killed personally, it is hard to even give him that. I'm not sure I could have lived with him. (view spoiler)[Vaughn deserved what he got in the end, and the cure wasn't compromised. (hide spoiler)]
There's already been so much pain and death in this series that I thought, after Cecily's (view spoiler)[miscarriage (hide spoiler)], that would be the end of it. When Linden (view spoiler)[died, I was completely shocked. (hide spoiler)] He had arguably one of the hardest stories: though he was sheltered and protected most of his life, his world was completely shattered by loss: his first baby, his first love and wife, another of his wives, his third baby. He almost lost Cecily. He lost Rhine, though she didn't die, but chose to leave, which is a different kind of pain. And then to find out all the atrocities his father had committed. I thought for sure if anyone had earned a happy, peaceful, long life, it was Linden. (view spoiler)[But no. I'm still not sure killing him off was necessary. Why do it? To prove Vaughn was a human and father after all? To bring Rhine and Cecily together even more, as the last two survivors of their plural marriage? To make Linden no longer a rival for Rhine's affections? I'm not sure any argument would convince me, but I'll let it go. (hide spoiler)]
Gabriel's (view spoiler)[absence for most of this book made his reunion with Rhine and instant coupledom with her pretty awkward. (hide spoiler)] I always felt like she had more chemistry with Linden, and from the way Rhine spoke about Gabriel throughout most of the book, it didn't seem like she was in love with him. (view spoiler)[So does she end up with Gabriel by by default, because Linden is dead and Gabriel has been through so much for her, even choosing imprisonment over leaving her alone? (hide spoiler)]Maybe I'd feel differently if it hadn't been 2 years since I read the first 2 books in this series, but this book in many ways felt like (view spoiler)[a reconciliation love story between Rhine and Linden, followed by a sudden bait and switch that gave Happily Ever After to Rhine and Gabriel instead. (hide spoiler)]
Other than my confusion and sadness over (view spoiler)[Linden's death, (hide spoiler)] I really enjoyed the way all the plot points were wrapped up. I have a soft spot in my heart for a good epilogue, and I loved hearing how everyone was in the years following (view spoiler)[Vaughn's death and everyone eventually receiving the cure. (hide spoiler)] I'm still not sure the name Chemical Garden makes sense - I get that that's what the twins' parents' called their experiments, but that still doesn't explain what it meant to them. Are the kids flowers because they were grown in vitro? And their messed up DNA and all the tests are the chemicals mentioned? Also, were the twins somehow a breakthrough (view spoiler)[for a version of the cure that worked on everyone? Or just more-resilient test subjects and it just so happened to be their test that was successful? (hide spoiler)]The science stuff could have used more explanation, but it's possible that would have gone over my head.
All in all, I'm satisfied with how this trilogy ended. If you feel like reading it, definitely read the whole series all the way through, or you risk loosing your connection to certain characters when they disappear for large chunks of time. But maybe that only happens to me. :)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more