For Ages: 14 and up
  • reading group guide
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.
Choose a format:
  • Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781442409132 | 
  • February 2013 | 
  • Grades 9 and up
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Time is running out for Rhine in the conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Chemical Garden Trilogy.

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Read an Excerpt

IN THE ATLAS the river still flows. The thin line of it carries cargo to a destination that no longer exists. We share a name, the river and I; if there’s a reason for this, it died with my parents. The river lingers in my daydreams, though. I imagine it spreading out into the greatness of the ocean, melting into sunken cities, carrying old messages in bottles.

I have wasted too much time on this page. Really I should be in North America, charting my way from the Florida coastline to Providence, Rhode Island, where my twin brother has just bombed a hospital for its pro-science research on embryos.

I don’t know how many are... see more

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

By Lauren DeStefano

Prereading Questions

1. To what extent would you go to save a loved one?

2. What does the title of the final book in DeStefano’s Chemical Garden Trilogy suggest about the plot?

Discussion Questions

1. When the story opens, Rhine is in the hospital and is being visited by her husband, Linden, and her sister wife, Cecily. Why is she in the hospital?

2. Who is Reed and why does Linden suggest Rhine stay with him for a while?

3. Compare and contrast Cecily’s relationship with Linden and Rhine’s relationship with him. Would you say, or do you think, that Rhine is jealous of Cecily?

4. Is Cecily a good mother? Why or why not? Support your answer with evidence from the text.

5. Describe Reed’s house and the mood the description evokes in the reader. Identify words in the story that the writer uses to create this mood.

6. How does Reed’s house contrast with Vaughn’s house? How does this contrast contribute to the mood?

7. What role does Reed’s airplane play in the story?

8. Why does Vaughn come for Cecily? What power does Vaughn hold over her?

9. Why do Linden and Rhine rush Cecily to the hospital? How does the author create tension in this scene? Identify passages and/or dialogue tha see more

About the Author

Lauren DeStefano
© 2011 Ali Smith

Lauren DeStefano

Lauren DeStefano is the author of The Internment Chronicles and the New York Times bestselling Chemical Garden trilogy, which includes Wither, Fever, and Sever. She earned her BA in English with a concentration in creative writing from Albertus Magnus College in Connecticut. Visit her at




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