Author: Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden #1
Date: March 2011
Buy the Book • 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 she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a dystopian novel. I’ve mainly been sticking to fantasy and paranormal books for about 6 months, so when I picked up Wither, I was really looking forward to getting stuck into a gritty dystopian world. And in a way, I did get stuck into Wither. Only it wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped. Maybe I built it up to be better in my head..?
As with most dystopian novels, Wither explores another haunting future. One where humans are dying out from a virus which came about through scientists finding a cure for cancer. In this future, girls die at the age of 20 and boys die at the age of 25. Humanity is desperately trying to find the cure that will reverse this virus before the entire population dies out, whilst some feel it is better to let nature take its course and wipe out the human population altogether.
And so we are following the story of Rhine. For the most part, I liked Rhine. I liked that she had principles. At the age of 16 she is snatched away from her twin brother and sold to Linden, a wealthy man in a large mansion along with 2 other girls to be his sister wives. The whole time Rhine is captive all she thinks about is escape and finding her way back to her brother. But she didn’t realise that through their mutual situation she would form an unbelievable bond with her sister wives. I really liked the 2 sister wives. They were both so different. And the relationship that Rhine forms with them was nice to read about.
And then there’s Linden. I kind of felt sorry for Linden. He was so oblivious to Rhine’s true feelings and to his father’s monstrous experiments in the basement. I felt like he was being used nearly as much as the sister wives were. I had a few issues with how Rhine acted towards him though. I felt that she was a little contradictory. She would go from hating him one moment to inviting him into her bed the next with no internal explanation for why she acted the way she did. I felt this was quite a flaw in her character.
One of my biggest praises for Wither is the way it held my attention as well as it did. For a book that has not a lot happening by way of action, I certainly was kept on the edge of my seat. I actually read most of this in one sitting and found it very difficult to put down. However I did find that the theme of the book and Rhine’s constant inner monologue about wanting to return to her brother gave the book an overall ‘depressing’ feel to it. And the ending was a bit anti climatic too so this is why I opted for 3 stars.
I have heard that book 2 is much better so I’m really looking forward to reading that and finding out what happens next.