Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1) by Lauren DeStefano
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Source: Received from publicist for honest review
Summary: 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?
My Review: According to Wither, I would have passed away five years ago. *Shutters* The thought of death freaks me out. Now, imagine living life knowing when your time will be up, scary right? After the destruction of the world, North America is left standing. There, an incurable virus is killing females at twenty and males at twenty-five. With no hope for an antidote, chaos has taken over societies with an overwhelming amount of kidnappings. Thus, forcing females into "sister wives" for an eligible bachelor who yearns for companionship and child bearing goals. This nightmare unfortunately occurs to Rhine, a vibrant sixteen year old full of spunk and bravery. Rhine's voice clearly spoke to me from the first page on. I haven't bonded so strongly with a character since Katniss from The Hunger Games. Her relatability factor and ability to capture people's hearts proved as a qualitative trait, not only for me but her hardships as well.
Rhine's twin brother, which has no idea of her kidnapping, never made an actual appearance. However, her stories and unconditional love for her brother shined throughout the text. It was nice getting to know him even if it was through memories. The rest of the "sister wives" surrounding Rhine's stay at Linden's locked paradise introduced the most interesting set-up yet. The whole concept of "sister wives" actually exists in some households, thanks to Oprah for clarifying that for me. So, seeing Lauren's twist on this polygamist lifestyle was quite impressive. You'd think I'd hate Rhine's shared roommates, but I didn't! The clarity behind their developed traits were spot on. Each one of them brought something new and sympathetic for the reader which helped ease the unusual scenario between three girls and one husband.
The only person I truly hated was Linden's father. He was one creepy and psycho minded man. Ugh just thinking of him gives me the heebie-jeebies. Speaking of the father, his son Linden was not what I expected. He actually surpassed my assumptions by winning me over with sincerity. In addition, the lovely appearance of the servant boy, Gabriel, Rhine finds a friend that's her true savior. I loved everything about this kid. He was the solace that she needed to plan out her escape. By the end, I was floored! I was so ecstatic, I mouthed, "wow" out loud. I cannot wait for the sequel! Even fans of historical fiction will devour this one. The plot takes place in the future while the tone has an old fashioned feel to it. I recommend this book to everyone, yes even to you non-YA readers! It's one novel that didn't disappoint, you heard it from me....the hype is definitely right on the mark this time around.
Lauren DeStefano (pronounced: de STEFF ano) graduated Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT in 2007. Her debut novel, WITHER, the first in The Chemical Garden Trilogy, is due to hit stores in March 2011 by Simon & Schuster BFYR.
For more info on Lauren, check out her sites:
Check this video of Lauren talking about Wither: