Monday 2 January 2012

Wither by Lauren DeStefano (The Chemical Garden #1)

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.

In Wither, Lauren DeStefano introduces us to a horrifyingly morbid post-apocalyptic America. It's one of the most disturbing scenarios in dystopian fiction: when the science that was used to create the perfect generation that was devoid of cancer, AIDS and every other disease causes the next generation to go horribly wrong. Men of the later generation have only till twenty five. Women die at the age of twenty. The older "perfect" generation who caused this lives until the ripe age of 80-100 years old and they are forced to witness what they have unleashed.

The book opens with sixteen-year old Rhine Ellery being trapped in a van along with several other girls by the Gatherers. She, along with two others, Cecily who is barely fourteen and eighteen-year old Jenna are then made the brides of Linden, who lives in a large mansion with his father. Rhine could've perhaps gotten used to this life of privilege if it weren't for the twin brother left behind. She is determined to search for a way to escape the heavily guarded mansion and find her brother.

It is impossible to describe how much I enjoyed reading this book. It was one of the few books that I managed to finish in less than twenty four hours! I didn't even notice time pass as I was HOOKED. It is a disturbing world that you wouldn't want to live in but Lauren DeStefano's writing makes it morbidly beautiful. Even in the hopelessness and bleakness, the author infuses beauty and something close to hope.

But more than anything, one thing I LOVED about Wither was how complex yet real each character was. It wasn't just the central character. Every character had motives, dreams, hopes and back story. While I was rooting for Rhine to escape with Gabriel, the servant boy she falls for... There was also Linden, Rhine's husband, who tugged at my heartstrings from the very beginning.

When the plan for Rhine to escape the mansion was set in motion, I wanted to yell STAY! Because Linden needs her!

Even with Housemaster Vaughn, the manipulative father and creepy scientist, it is obvious that he cares for his son more than anything.

Another thing that unexpectedly gripped me was the bond between the sister wives- Jenna, Rhine and Cecily. They have no control over the secrets and happenings in the mansion and so they gradually turn to each other. While each had their own shortcomings, they (for the most part) had each others' back and grew close.

Despite certain cracks when it came to the world Wither is set in (everyone dying at the EXACT same age?! How?), the book felt complete. I haven't got that feeling in a long time. With most books, even when it is a great read, it seems to lack a certain something. Wither felt complete- with the attention to detail, complexities and beautifully developed characters.

I also liked the way Wither ended. There was no big cliffhanger and it didn't need a cliffhanger. It was kind of nice and fitting for the book to have an ending that was contrary to the claustrophic hopelessness that prevailed throughout the novel. And it's obvious that there is much more in store. I am already counting down the days left for Fever (The Chemical Garden #2) to release!!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


  1. I got the copy of it myself.. Now i am super excited to read it!

  2. too big for my brain :P

  3. @readaholicme Yay! I'll be on the look out for your review (:

    @Deepak Ah, that's ok -_-

  4. Nice review! I'm pretty sure this is on my tbr pile.

  5. I have been wanting to read this, and you review just made me want it so much more. Awesome review!!!

  6. @Melissa Hope you enjoy reading it :)

    @Rebecca Haha thanks! GOREADITNOW!! And hope you like it as much as I did! (:

  7. I was chatting with Lauren yesterday and so now I need to read this one. It has been languishing in my TBR for too long. I love the cover on this one but not so much on book 2.

  8. You should definitely check it out. Now!!! I love the covers of this series! Though you're right, the cover of book 1 is a bit nicer! But maybe that's coz knowing what book 1 is about, the cover of book 1 made more sense to me. Thanks for stopping by! GOREADNOW! :)

  9. Great review! I didn't love Wither but it's still nice to see those whoe enjoyed it:)



HI. Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment. :)