Wither (The Chemical Garden #1)
Post apocalyptic dystopia
By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.
When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can't bring herself to hate him as much as she'd like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband's strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape - before her time runs out?
Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?
Hi all. Back from insane exam season for a quick review (:
Since 2011, when this book was all over the blogoshpere, I couldn't wait to read it. I picked it up after a hard week expecting a cool, Divergent-y dystopia to take my mind off things.
Boy was I wrong.
Wither was DARK. Truthfully you can deduce that from the blurb, but lots of books advertise themselves like this so I didn't think much of it. I was scared and creeped out, for practically the entirety of the book, so on that front it was a total success - just not if you were looking for something light.
I LOVED the character complexity in the story. Jenna and Cecily felt real, and I came to love each girl and her tragic story. I did not know what to think about Linden, which I think was the desired effect for our clueless captor. And of course, Housemaster Vaugn gave me chills.
The writing, too, was pretty flawless. Everything flowed quickly and thrillingly. The trapped feeling of being stuck in a glorious prison came across strong. All that was sick and wrong with the so-called 'marriage' was aptly described in way that was obvious to the reader but normal to Rhine, who grew up used to this world. I would have given Lauren DeStefano an A if not for some gaping worldbuilding problems:
WHY, if girls are so valuable for breeding, would the ones Linden rejected be killed and not sold to someone else? WHERE are the authorities in all this- they're running orphanages but oblivious to when said orphans are sold for marriage? HOW exactly did the world senselessly wipe itself out? WHY would North American women suddenly become victims in the legal system after World War III? If society is going to have a major regression like that, you're going to have to explain it.
All in all, I still don't know how I feel about Wither. I think that had I read it knowing what to expect and at the right time I would have been raving more. As it is, I wasn't in the right state of mind for the story when I read it, and it would have been better with more explanation of the backstory. Rating: 3.5 stars