Wither (ARC) by Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pub. Date: March 22nd, 2010
Series: Chemical Garden Trilogy, #1
Age Level: 14+
Source: For review from publisher.
Synopsis via Goodreads
What if you knew exactly when you would die?
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.
For those of you who weren't already aware, Wither is actually an acronym for: Wow. Ingenious. Thought-provoking. Heartfelt. Edgy. Raw.
Rhine is a strong and determined heroine with an authentic, gripping voice. At times, it felt as though Rhine had escaped from the pages and was, instead, sitting right next to me, telling me her story. Her emotions and motives were tangible and her personality admirable. I connected with her character immediately and that connection only grew as I turned the pages. One of the things that blew me away about Wither was how intricately woven and layered Rhine's relationships were with the other characters. First off, Rhine's bond with her sister wives, Jenna and Cecily, really took me off guard. Jenna is the oldest of the three and feels just as much resentment towards Linden and Vaughn as Rhine, despite her resolve to live out the rest of what little time she has left in her luxurious prison. She's very observant but also withdrawn and cold towards Linden which does not earn her any favors. I really grew to respect Jenna, her quick wit, and her part in Rhine's life. Cecily is the youngest, only 13 when the book begins, and painfully naive, not to mention annoying. However, like Rhine and Jenna, I felt sorry for her and could understand why she was so happy with her new life. Honestly, these three girls really did grow to become like sisters and I thought the relationship between them was both beautiful and heartbreaking. Now to Linden, a character who was just as much a victim as a villain. Like Rhine, I couldn't stand him at first but slowly I grew to understand him and maybe even like him a bit. It would have been so easy for DeStefano to make him purely evil, but instead, she took the time to develop him and give him depth. She has this way of making you care for the hard to care for characters. True, thinking of Linden and Cecily together made me queasy but I also had to stop to think about the situation from his perspective and how he had been taught and guided throughout his life. Then there was the servant and Rhine's friend, Gabriel, whom I adored; I liked how things weren't rushed between him and Rhine and while she does start to see him as more than a friend, she knows that they can never truly know their potential together unless they can free themselves of the confines of the mansion. Ruling the household and everyone in it is our evil puppet master, and Linden's father, Vaughn. While I can't deny that he loves his son, the man is sick and twisted.
Do you ever pick up a book and, just from reading the first page, know you are going to love it? Yeah that rarely happens to me either, but Wither was exceptional in that way. DeStefano has crafted a world where matters being as clear and simple as black and white is purely an outdated concept, including the act of polygamy. The majority of this story is set in, and on the property of, a mansion. I never could have imagined that such a setting could be so impressively executed and I was surprised to find how much I loved it. The plot, itself, was continuously engaging and never failed to hold my attention. Wither was so unique and it seemed to have everything it needed for greatness including suspense, action, a touch of romance, and a highly imaginative story-line.
DeStefano's writing style is exquisite, a poetic prose that automatically stood out as being something brilliant and distinguished. Her vivid imagery and captivating way with words quickly drew me in and held me tight. DeStefano also did an expert job setting the various moods throughout the story, making me feel whatever I was meant to at any given time, be it anxious, excited, scared, etc.
The only thing that I didn't love about Wither was the ending. I'm not saying I disliked it so much as that I'm just not really sure how I feel about it in general. To fully explain my mixed feelings would spoil the ending for all of you and seeing as how I'd rather not do that, I'll just say this: I was hoping for something different than what I got. Once I know how the next book in this trilogy is going to continue things, I'll have a better grasp on how I really felt about this particular ending, as my feelings are still a bit muddled and confused.
In Wither, Lauren DeStefano has crafted a captivating, unforgettable debut that has most definitely risen the standards for the dystopian genre. I'm not suggesting you read this book, I'm telling you to. Yep, you heard me. Read it or Wither and die. (Pun absolutely intended.) Muahaha. Seriously though, Wither is a book not to be overlooked. (And now I'm rhyming.) Now I shall remain anxiously anticipating the next installment in the Chemical Garden trilogy until I can get it in my hot little hands.
1st in Trilogy: A-
Buy it now: Amazon / Kindle / Book Depository
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Friday, March 18, 2011
Wither (ARC) by Lauren DeStefano
Posted by ~The Book Pixie at 3/18/2011 08:05:00 AM