Mar 11, 2011

Wither (Chemical Garden, #1), by Lauren DeStefano

Release Date: March 22nd, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Age Group: Young Adult
Categories: Paranormal, Dystopian, Teen Pregnancy, Kidnapping,  
Source: Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab Program
Overall: 5 Monkeys
Read on March 2011

Summary from 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 limted time she has left.
My Opinion:

Wither is a great book to start off a series. I loved it!

We're first introduced to our main character, Rhine, and the world she lives in. How it's normal for her and her brother -and most kids their age- to be orphans and live alone, fending for themselves. How it's normal for them to have fences and tricks to keep robbers -kids trying to get something to eat, or Gatherers looking for brides to sell- away. How girls having babies at ages as early as 12 is okay. 

Rhine is tricked into the open arms of the Gatherers and ends up at the back of a van with a dozen other girls. What seems to her to be days later, the doors of the van open, and three girls are picked out. Rhine is one of them. The others are disposable. The gun shots can be heard even from the inside of the rich, ominous limousine the three girls are taken to. 

What I loved about Rhine was that she always knew what she wanted. She wanted to escape from that idyllic place from the moment she set foot in it, and no matter how beautiful the place, how kind the people, she could still see it for what it really was: a prison. Even when she started falling for Gabriel, a kitchen attendant, she didn't think of staying longer than she should. She missed her freedom, and her brother. 

Linden, her husband, is like a caged prince, one who's been told fairy tales to guard him from the horrors of the world. Despite herself, Rhine begins to care for him. 

Cecily and Jenna, Rhine's "sister wives", couldn't be more different from her. Cecily's incredibly happy to have been chosen to be the wife of a very wealthy man in a good position, and Jenna wishes their husband would die, like her sisters did in the back of the van that brought her there. Their relationship blossoms into one of friendship, and Rhine feels she can trust them. Well, she trusts Jenna the most.

The Mansion is surrounded by gardens: the orange grove, the rose garden, and many more places like those. All beautiful, all chemically sustained. And there's no way out. No visible way out. 

It'll be Rhine's job to find out a way to leave, before she ends up like Rose, Linden's first wife, down in the cellar, with Linden's father, who'd do anything to find a cure to save his son. 

All in all, Wither is a great debut for author Lauren DeStefano, that set out the path for the rest of the series beautifully. I can't wait to read the sequel, and see what happens to Rhine and the others!

*Read for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge by The Story Siren*

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