Series: The Chemical Garden trilogy, #1
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Cover Designer: Lizzy Bromley
Age Audience: YA
Tagline: What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Summary: Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.
My Review:To be honest, I had HUGE expectations for this book. But for some reason, I put off reading for a long time. I don’t know why. But as soon as I started reading it, I was thinking things like, “WOW! Why haven’t I read this already?!?”
I was drawn from the first page, when the book opens with Rhine in the dark back of a van, captured by people called Gatherers who kidnap girls and sell them off as brides. Everything about this book was intriguing, from Rhine’s history to Housemaster Vaughn’s experiments to find an antidote for the virus. It got pretty creepy at times, but I thought it was a good kind of creepy.
I loved the relationships between the characters, especially between Rhine and her sister wives Cecily, Jenna and Rose. At first she doesn’t care about them at all, but she becomes friends with Rose, and later Jenna, and soon enough she thinks of them all as sisters. I found Cecily to be a little annoying in the beginning, but I warmed up to her as she matured. She was the youngest sister wife, and didn’t really know what was going on.
And then there was their husband, Linden. Rhine loathes him at first for taking her away from her home, but she almost starts to sympathize with him as she discovers that he is just as much of a prisoner as she is.
There’s one thing I want to point out, and it is that even though the summary makes it sound like there is a love triangle in this book, I wouldn’t say there was. Rhine becomes very good friends with the attendant Gabriel before she even starts to feel attracted to him, and she knows she doesn’t want to be like a true wife to Linden. Rhine wasn’t looking for a romantic relationship. Her purpose was to escape and go home to her brother Rowan.
The writing was very good. There were lovely descriptions, but they didn’t slow down the book and were not overly wordy. Come to think of it, Wither was actually quite slow-paced, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The slow pace let you take in the dystopian world better than you would have been able to if the book had been fast-paced.
This book easily could have gotten 5 stars from me, but here’s the reason it didn't: the scientific aspect didn’t make much sense. I know this is science fiction, but still. Why did the virus kill men and women at a different age? Unless there is a separate virus for each gender, it should kill them both at the same age. Also, the polar ice caps are huge! If they melted, not even North America would be saved from a watery grave.
Other than that one little criticism, I loved dark, suspenseful Wither. This is a book that I’m going to shove in all of my friend’s faces and say, “Hey! Have you read Wither? If you haven’t, READ IT. NOW.”