Thursday, May 24, 2012

Justine's Thoughts: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

[The Chemical Garden Trilogy - 1]
By Lauren DeStefano
Source: Won from Becky at Stories and Sweeties

Book Description:
What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every newborn 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 is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

A quote:
The world seems so clean if you only looked up.

Expectations: There is a lot of word about Wither everywhere around the blogosphere. Everything I read has been positive, too. Wither is one of the first YA dystopian novels I’ve ever read and I was expecting for it to be mind-blowing. Although it did not reach my level of expectations, I found that I really, really loved it.

About Setting: The haunting society was so vividly described, especially with DeStefano’s incredible writing. The inside and the outside of the mansion seem interesting. I mostly liked the outdoor gardens; the orange grove sounded beautiful. The entire setting is a bit limited because Rhine spends most of her time at the mansion, although sometimes she gets the chance to visit the city. We also travel back in time to what life was like for Rhine and her twin brother, Rowan, before she was chosen to be a bride. Sometimes I would even stop and pause after reading a paragraph so I could absorb it all in and make sense of things.

About Characters: I fell in love with the characters. It was magnificent. Rhine is one great heroine and I adore her. She always had the determination to escape and return to Rowan. One thing I liked about her was that she would take the time to think things through and she would always stand strong. Her relationship with Gabriel slowly blossoms in Wither. From the description, it may seem like there would be a lot of romance, but truthfully there isn’t much.

My favourite characters are the Sister Wives: Jenna and Cicely. Jenna is older while Cicely is younger than Rhine. Each of them have their own individual personality traits that it’s easy to tell them apart. Jenna is miserable as she has come to realize that she’s spending the little time she has left in the mansion. On the other hand, Cicely is happy in the fact that she as well as Jenna and Rhine are living in a mansion with benefits rather than those who are living in the city. The three characters form a relationship that tugs at my heart. The other characters like Gabriel and Housemaster Vaughn and Linden have yet to be developed thoroughly in the next two books. I think of Gabriel as an innocent boy who I’m very eager to get to know more of, Housemaster Vaughn is just this frightening, eerie, mad scientist, and Linden is actually a decent guy who you would kind of feel sorry for. All the characters have something interesting about them that you would easily characterize them with.

About Plot: The plot is so very original. The society is set in the future with cancer and other illnesses cured and treated although resulting to an even deeper trouble with the population. The cure has caused a shorter lifespan for both men and women. With this untreated issue and with the dying population, women are treated harshly with pressure to have babies. It sounds like a horrifying world, one with polygamy marriages, diseases, and scientific experiments. Rhine has been chosen to be in a polygamy marriage with Linden and two other girls and she sets her mind on one thing and that is to escape. That leaves a limited setting with not much exposure to the outside world. For me, it felt like something was lacking. I do, however, love Lauren DeStefano’s writing. It is flawless and smooth and all kinds of beautiful. I am just hoping to see more and more of it as well as more of the other characters in the next instalment.

Overall Rating: Y Y Y Y
With an original, fascinating storyline, a haunting sense in setting, and a marvellous mix of characters, I most definitely won’t miss out on book 2, Fever.


  1. I have this one sitting on my shelf, and I think it's because of all the good things I've heard about it that I haven't been able to read it. The fact that it has a well-described setting makes me want to actually give it a try. Thanks for the review!

  2. I've definitely heard a lot of great things about this one as well and like you, I am expecting to be just a tad bit disappointed when I finally get to it. I am glad that you loved it anyways and I look forward to reading it. Great review :)

  3. I've heard so many good things about this book and I'd love to read it this summer. From what you've said I think I would enjoy it - her writing style sounds beautiful <3 I love how it seems so scandalous - with polygamy marriages and women being put under pressure to get pregnant!

    I'm glad you enjoyed it Justine :)
    Beverley @ A Reading Daydreamer

  4. Wither was also one of the best first dystopian novels that I read and I was pleased. That is mostly because I wasn`t expecting a whole lot from it. The sister wives were my favourite part as well. I loved what they added to the story. Thanks for you review.

    Sara @ Just Another Story

  5. I loved this book as well. So good, with such compelling and intriguing characters and situations at hand.

    Cleo Rogers Canadian Gift Basket Company


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