Title: Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy #1)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult
Publisher: HarperVoyager (4th August 2011)
What if you knew exactly when you would die?
In our brave new future, DNA engineering has resulted in a terrible genetic flaw. Women die at the age of 20, men at 25. Young girls are being abducted and forced to breed in a desperate attempt to keep humanity ahead of the disease that threatens to eradicate it.
16-year-old Rhine Ellery is kidnapped and sold as a bride to Linden, a rich young man with a dying wife. Even though he is kind to her, Rhine is desperate to escape her gilded cage – and Linden’s cruel father. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in what little time she has left.
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Wither is the first book in Lauren DeStefano’s The Chemical Garden Trilogy. Time is running out for Rhine, for Linden, and for Gabriel: for the rest of humanity too.
I love the concept of the book. I think the idea behind this book and the series is a really interesting one. It’s what made me pick up the book in the first place. However, I’m not too sure about the execution. There are times when it just fell flat for me.
Rhine is an excellent protagonist and narrator. I found her very easy to relate to, and I liked her instantly. She is a genuinely nice character – and I don’t mean it in a bad way. Rhine cares. Even when she knows she shouldn’t. She’s also a very observant character, and doesn’t shut herself off from the reality of a situation. I also liked Linden as a character. There is just something about him that made me pay attention to him when he’s “on stage”. He also seems very human. Gabriel is something of a nothing character for me. I just don’t get what’s so special/important about him (can anyone explain?). Linden’s father was also something of an enigma.
The plot of the book is pretty easy to guess from the blurb, but it was well executed on the whole. There weren’t any surprises or twists. But I could not put the book down. There was something compelling about the narrative. Maybe because I didn’t have to think about it. I also want to try the next book in the trilogy – I’ve heard some good things about it. When I started reading I didn’t think I’d like it, but by the time I finished I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t think this is a book, or series, for everyone. But it is an intriguing look at a “What if…?” situation.