Wednesday, July 29, 2015

[Review] Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
The Chemical Garden #1
Published March 22nd, 2011.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Young Adult Sci-Fi 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?

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My thoughts: 

It was a good story and I enjoyed it. It's some kind of dark dystopia that I hadn't read before, somehow. 

Human race has been corrupted by scientific experiments shortening the life span to 20 years for women and 25 for men. Brides are kidnapped off the streets filled with orphans and sold to the highest bidder. Sixteen-year-old Rhine is an orphan too, but she doesn't wander the streets because she has a twin brother who mostly takes care of them both in the old family house once owned by their dead parents. 

When Rhine is taken on her way to work, she's brought to this important Governor who chooses her as his wife along with two other girls. The world is so messed up that one of them is only thirteen and is expected to bear children and be a wife as well as the oldest wife, who's eighteen. But the horrors of this dystopian world are not the worst, because inside this mansion that's Rhine new home, things even more horrible are happening, and our protagonist has just scratched the surface. 

I didn't fall in love with Rhine, because I didn't really believe her tough act. She was always saying how much she hated everything that had brought her to that awful place, but she didn't do much about it until the very end, she let herself fall for the whole illusion as she called it, more often than not, even when she kept saying that she wasn't buying into it. I really liked Jenna, the oldest wife, she was a really good friend to Rhine and she seemed to me like the strongest of the bunch. Cecily got in my nerves all the time, I just couldn't stand her. She was so stupidly naive and bratty that I just rolled my eyes every time she appeared in a scene. 

I didn't like Linden much either. He was so mild, like he couldn't formulate a whole idea by himself. He took everything as it was presented to him, without questioning anything and it made furious to witness his obliviousness. He's definitely not my type of love interest and besides that, the whole polygamy thing didn't cut it for me. There's no real romance like that. So, for me, he wasn't considered as a love interest even when Rhine let herself slip up.

Gabriel wasn't much better. I mean, he wasn't as bad at being fooled by shiny things as Linden, but he was also pretty meh. Always afraid and it just felt like he let himself be dragged around by Rhine. 

The villain in the story was kind of terrifying, this powerful man who would do anything to find a cure for the virus that's shortening the life span of his son. But sometimes, even if we're made to believe that his motives have to do with saving his son, he was just evil for the sake of being evil. 

The character that intrigued me the most, surprisingly was Rowan. I'd like to see him as a love interest, I bet he would be the bad-ass male character I kept on waiting throughout this story. 

That said, the characters weren't the best in this book. They were difficult to relate to for me. But I still enjoyed the world-building and the writing. I wish the plot would've moved faster and really developed throughout this first book, but it didn't feel like it. This one is not one of those dystopias with lots of action and big battles, and I kind of missed that, but it made it original somehow.

Overall Wither is a decent read. It's not for everyone since it contains darker topics like underage sex and kidnapping. The writing is really good but it's a slow-paced story with a lot of sitting around doing virtually nothing and few moments of real action. But it's still a good story, although I'm still not sure if I'll be reading the next two books in this trilogy



About the author

Lauren DeStefano was born in New Haven, Connecticut and has never traveled far from the east coast. She received a BA in English from Albertus Magnus College, and has been writing since childhood. She made her authorial debut by writing on the back of children's menus at restaurants and filling up the notepads in her mom's purse. Her very first manuscript was written on a yellow legal pad with red pen, and it was about a haunted shed that ate small children.

Now that she is all grown up (for the most part), she writes fiction for young adults. Her failed career aspirations include: world's worst receptionist, coffee house barista, sympathetic tax collector, and English tutor. When she isn't writing, she's screaming obscenities at her Nintendo DS, freaking her cats out with the laser pen, or rescuing thrift store finds and reconstructing them into killer new outfits.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your honest review. I've been iffy about this one for years. The plot definitely seems interesting so maybe I'll pick it up once and for all. Sorry you couldn't relate to the characters but glad you liked the world building and the writing.