Monday, April 30, 2012

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano (The Chemical Garden #1)

Title: Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Published: March 22nd, 2011 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Library
Format: Audio book
Challenge(s): Support Local Library, ABC Reading Challenge
Grade rate: B-

 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?

My Review

I must be the last person in the universe to read Wither.  I also have a confession to make:  I started reading Wither and only couldn’t get pat to the first few chapters because I thought the pace was too slow to hold my interest.  A few months later I decided to check the audio book from the library and give it another chance.  I’m glad I did.

As you know, Wither is a dystopian and I do love this type of book (who wouldn’t love The Hunger Games and Divergent, for example?).  The premise of the book is very different, depressing and catastrophic, I mean, it’s like walking around with an expiration date.  There are many things that I liked about this book.  For example, I like Rhine, Cecily and Jena.  These characters were literally thrown together in a very difficult situation and each chose to handle it in a different way.  I don’t want to give much away, but I think their backgrounds and their ages have a great impact in how they deal with the situation.

The story is told in the first person, from Rhine’s point of view.  Rhine is a character with a strong set of believes, smart and a tender hearted.  She tried to hate both her marriage and her husband (Linden) and at first glance I guess I would have too.  However, she grows fond of her sister wives (the very concept makes me shudder), the staff at the mansion and even of her husband.   To me Linden is a victim of his father, and his upbringing; in short, he doesn’t know any better.  It is hard to miss something that you never had or to question something when there is no doubt in your mind.  However, Linden was weak, but nice, he really did care for is wives in the best way he know how and tried to make them happy.  I’m sorry to say that I didn’t care for Gabriel much.  I think the reason is because I didn’t get to know him well.   Gabriel is almost a slave (yes, he was purchased) and hardly has time to talk to Rhine.  He is shy, careful, reserved; I just can’t find it in me to like him.  On the other hand Linden is constantly in the story and there is much more depth to his character.  Vaughn is our villain, and he is indeed the typical bad guy, again we don’t get to really get a feel of what exactly is going on, although there is a lot of guessing from Rhine’s part (and mine as well!)

As I mentioned before the story is good and original.  I think the biggest appeal of Wither, at least for me, is the writing.  Lauren DeStefano sure knows how to put a sentence together.  Although the story is indeed very slow paced and there is no much action, I can see the appeal such beautiful writing has on the reader. 

I had a lot of personal issues with the world of Wither.  For example, if there were so many orphans and even “bride schools” why was there a need to steal girls?  Why couldn’t they ask for volunteers?  I’m sure that Rhine would have been much more open to the idea of being a bride if given a choice and if she was able to bring her brother along.  Why did the wives had to be locked up all the time?  Why did Linden and Rhine’s relationship seemed much more stronger than her relationship with Gabriel?   And what on earth is Vaughn doing in that basement?  I will definitely read Fever as soon as I can.

About the cover:  This cover is a work of art. The link between the wedding ring and the caged bird is obvious.  The colors and font are also beautiful. 

Have you read Wither (and Fever for that matter)? What did you think?  Did you like Gabriel? 


  1. I think I agree with you. I ended up really enjoying Wither (and have a copy of Fever sat around waiting for me to get to it) but I definitely had a few issues.

    As you've said, it was the idea of stealing girls and such, and the fact that I didn't feel that I liked Gabriel too much as a character.

    I'll see how Fever goes though - hopefully it'll at least be an enjoyable read!

  2. I haven't read this series yet either Liza. I only recently began reading ya..and love dystopians. I am glad you mentioned the pace and your first experience with it. I think i might like this based on your thoughts. Awesome review

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you like Wither when you have a chance to read it :)


I love comments! Please leave me one and I will try to reply as soon as I can. Liza


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