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Severance
SeveranceRebeccaW (3)
Not awful, but not my favorite

I will admit I struggled a lot to finish this book, despite its short length. The premise was intriguing and the writing style didn't get in the way of my enjoyment. What was difficult is that I struggled with the purpose of the story. I often found myself wondering what I was getting out of this story and where it was going (not in the intruding way). Liked it fine, didn't love and likely won't pick up again.

SeveranceAnnaMyers (2)
Disappointing

I appreciated the writing, there were some very eloquent thoughts throughout - but ultimately I found myself drifting off a lot - getting bored with the flashbacks. This is certainly not a typical post apocalyptic zombie novel - which is fine- but it felt lacking to me. The ending is disappointing.

Kristie (4)
I agree. I did not enjoy the flashbacks.
AmyImogeneReads (1)
I completely agree. After fighting through 300 pages, the ending just "happened" and I felt cheated. Fighting to finish a book that is so apathetic (both in terms of its writing style and its main character) and then reaching an even worse ending was frustrating. It felt like a wasted reading experience, which is a shame because the book sounded so unique.
AlexandraThomas (2)
Agreed. I think what was lacking for me was plot tension. Which is a weird thing to be lacking in a "zombie" book. I understand the point was for Candace to be in a rut - for lack of a better phrase - just going with the flow of things, but I just wanted to shake her and be like "care about something! anything!" Because it felt like there weren't really any stakes. And then it ended.
SeveranceJamalT (18)
Very Good Read; Not Billed Correctly

I truly enjoyed reading Severance, and would recommend it to others but I think the way this book is marketed is incorrect and that could lead to some people being disappointed in the book itself.

This book is not the Walking Dead or really any iteration of it. It isn't a horror novel, a zombie book (really), it's not Shaun of the Dead level funny. And that's okay. This book is pretty deeply literary and has a particularly lovely section about Candace's connection to her parents and her status as an immigrant. And with that, Heavy Spoilers Ahead.

I've seen some people say that they weren't sure at the end if Candace was fevered or not--and I understand because initially, when she was vividly describing Johnathan's memory, it raised little red flags.

But I think it's the opposite. Before, Candace chose to be cut off from everything that would make her human--we see how these connections are slowly, slowly, slowly cut off. First, she loses her connection to China, a connection that, when she returns, we see is altered. It doesn't matter that she was born and lived there for 6 years, she's a foreigner.

Then she loses her parents, and chooses to not really deal with that loss directly, instead starting to just walk around like a zombie. Her life has no purpose, and eventually she replaces that grief with her work.

Her relationship to Johnathan is sweet, but she just lets him go, and for no real reason. She doesn't love her job, she doesn't have family or even friends to tie her back, and she's pregnant with his child. And she has an open invitation. But she refuses this change. She's dealing with her other losses by filling it with work, even as society strips itself away. She keeps working beyond common sense or reason, just like the fevered.

That's why the group finds her alone in a cab. She literally kept working until there was no way to work, and when that was taken away from her, she had no idea what to do. That's why she didn't get sick, even though she didn't even bother to wear protective masks or showed any concern about it (at least, never as protection from Shen fever). She was already there.

That's also why we jump around on the timeline, it's in some ways all the same until she make the decision to leave the Facility and the car.

Bob represents basically a chance to recreate the life she used to have. While I think some of the choices were perhaps too subtle or not fleshed out enough--I would've loved to know more about the group's different personalities--but she does say they were all white-collar workers who were used to corporate hierarchy of some kind.

The world ends, and these people cling to the wrong things to survive. The one woman went to her family home and the description of what happened to her father is gruesome, but she just focuses on weed and her belongings. We don't see her want to check on her parents at all, let alone grieve or acknowledge that loss. She became trapped by her memory of her things as a consequence.

Bob said the Facility would be a safe haven, but really it was a chance to relive his feelings of isolation and powerlessness and channel all that to hurt others and control them, notably isolating Candace. He prowled the Facility like he owned it; it owned him.

So in the end, Candace choosing to get out of the car and walk is an indication that she's ok. I think you weren't supposed to be sure, and there was supposed to be tension about what she would do, since she was running out of both gas and road to drive.

I don't think remembering your past life is the trigger to Shen fever, it's the motivation. In the end, Candace doesn't discard her time with Johnathan. He might be gone, but she clearly did care about him, she remembered his stories and his life. She remembered loving him. That and her renewed connection with her mother are what saved her.

The book had to end with her either becoming fevered or on a cliff hanger where she made a new choice. We got the happy ending, and while we don't know how her life is going to look, if she was fevered, she would have continued to "drive" even when the car stopped. Instead, she acknowledged change, and chose to walk off into the sunset. That's I think as happy an ending for her you could ask for (and maybe Johnathan and his boat will find her eventually).

So all in all, a fabulous book, one that improves when I think on it, and was a pleasure to read, but I think it's been marketed wrong. Also, the lack of quotations is an odd choice. It didn't trip me as much as it did other people, but I understand that complaint.

LB (26)
This was very interesting and very well written, I would have to disagree with her relationship to Jonathan as being sweet though. Yes, she may have loved him, but I don’t think she truly ever respected him, more specifically his lifestyle and going against the establishment. You can love someone and yet know that you are not meant to be together. His announcement of his departure was weird, he did make life changing plans without consulting her and only notified her just before he was about to depart. It’s a bit unrealistic to expect the other person to simply drop everything without a reasonable amount of notice. The fact the she doesn’t tell him that she’s pregnant is very telling. I’d like to think that Jonathan ended up in a community near Boston, as described by the cab driver whose name I cannot remember. I don’t think the ending is happy regardless of Candance being fevered or not, if she’s fevered she won’t notice or care about anything around her, but even if she isn’t, it will be pretty hard for her to take care of herself and her baby in a delapited world... On a side note unrelated to the book, I’m loving this discussion part of BOTM! It’s great reading everyone’s interpretation and opinions, good or bad!
SeveranceJenniferSauceda (6)
Liked it but didn’t love it...

The lack of quotations bothered me just like many others and it definitely took me a few chapters to get into. I liked the back and forth of the story I believe it lent more to who candance was as a character. Definitely would have loved more of an ending or an epilogue. Would also to love a little insight into what happened to Jonathan!

SeveranceJenniferSauceda (6)
Liked it but didn’t love it...

The lack of quotations bothered me just like many others and it definitely took me a few chapters to get into. I liked the back and forth of the story I believe it lent more to who candance was as a character. Definitely would have loved more of an ending or an epilogue. Would also to love a little insight into what happened to Jonathan!

SeveranceMeganWhitesell (1)
<3 <3

I agree that the first half wasn't my favorite but I'd have to go back and read it again. I have a feeling I didn't like it because I kept expecting more details about the fever etc. Once I got past what I expected the book to be - I really really enjoyed the story and the style of writing! I thought it was very well written in the sense of the feelings it gave the reader :) I will say the take on whether Candace was fevered at the end is a really good one! I hadn't thought of that!!!

Severanceelizabeth (13)
I enjoyed the second half

In the beginning it was really slow and I couldn't get passed the lack of quotation marks. After the first 100 pages or so it picked up and I started to enjoy it more. I liked learning about candace before the shen fever and the current timeline was exciting. Though I do agree with the others that the ending was unsatisfying and I would've liked it to be a little more fleshed out.

LB (26)
The more I think about the ending, the more I believe Candance was fevered? Twice she mentions that memories can somehow trigger the fever, when she’s driving through the Chicago she has Jonathan’s memories which she confuses as her own, and after that she leaves the car and keeps on walking. Which is the opposite of when she first left NY, she stayed in the cab until the group found her.
EmilyC (9)
I love that interpretation - changes my perception of the ending and I like it more! I actually wanted more from the this book regarding a satire of her life before and her life after- how the monotony of work is the life of the fevered already. It worked but she could have done more with that.
elizabeth (13)
I think that you're right! That would raise the concern of the implications of what would happen to the baby. I think that it would have been better with another chapter or an epilogue because the ending didn't really tie up any loose ends.
SeveranceLB (26)
I liked it.

Like others have mentioned, I too was slightly annoyed by the lack of quotation marks for dialogue at first, but the more I got into the book not only did I get used to it, but I found that the ambiguity fit with the narrative perfectly. Some readers have mentioned their disappointment on the back and forth timeline, I really enjoyed it, it showed us that prior to the apocalypse, Candace had been pretty much living like the fevered, going from one daily routine to the next. It wasn’t until after the apocalypse that she really started to live and fight for life. I was pleased that they didn’t focus so much on the after events and the group dynamics, if I want to see people treating each other badly I’d just watch the walking dead. I was slightly annoyed at first, then pleasantly surprised. The first 100 pages did take me a while to get used to it; but after it just flew by. I loved the ending too, I thought it was perfect, given that these kinda stories are always tricky to reach a conclusion.

SeveranceNancyPhaup (10)
Liked it ok

I agree that the ending was unsatisfying. I enjoyed the way the story went back and forth between the present and the past. I found it a quick read and liked it a bit more than others here. I am glad I chose it because at least it held my interest. The book I had last month I could not finish.

Severancehsrancher (1)
Wait, What???

This had the potential to be such a good book. But, what is with the ending. Very disappointing. I really wish I would have selected a different book.

SeveranceJAMIECOLGIN (13)
Quotation Marks... or the Lack Thereoff

I am about half way through this book and am about to lose my mind with the lack of quotation marks. The style (and I don't consider lack of proper punctuation a style) is really bogging me down.

lissajacobs (7)
I literally came on here just to complain about this, I'm only 5 pages into the first chapter and super annoyed. Is this some new literary trend, I don't like it, it adds nothing to the story and makes it more difficult to read. Why try to change something that was not broken? It's not edgy, it's stupid.
JAMIECOLGIN (13)
I'm glad I'm not the only one. It makes it really hard to follow!! I also feel like the author has a weird disassociation from the main character--it's just hard to get into.
SeveranceZillie (1)
Ummm did it end??

I’m disappointed that I chose this book. It had all the makings of a great post-apocalyptic narrative but nothing happened! The style of writing is too pretentious...please just use punctuation so readers can follow thoughts vs conversations vs narration ????. Lastly, what was that ending (or lack thereof)??? I wasted a few hours of my life.

CarissaLeek (9)
I too was disappointed! I ordered it thinking it was going to be mostly about the post apocalyptic world and how the group would survive and the issues and power struggle within the group but most of it just had to do with Candace’s life before and during the Shen Fever epidemic. I wish the author would’ve gone more in depth on the group that Candace became a part of instead of just making them kind of fluff. They weren’t a big part of the actual plot until the end when it’s hinted that Bob would kill her after she had the baby. Which the ending felt rather rushed to me as well.