Monday, 12 March 2012

Wither by Lauren DeStefano (The Chemical Garden #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Sci-fi, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance
My Rating: 3 out of 5


By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can't bring herself to hate him as much as she'd like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband's strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out? Together with one of Linden's servants-Gabriel-Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

There were a lot of little things that brought this down for me, but overall I enjoyed the story and characters. Some of the little things that bothered me were, why kill the girls that weren't chosen? Rhine even says once that Vaughn never wastes anything. If you are so desperate to save the human race, why not leave the girls to reproduce with someone else? And, if you have a whole floor of your house dedicated to your young wives, why oh why would the only servant allowed on that floor be a young man? Asking for trouble. And then, of course, Rhine didn't hate Linden as much as she should have. There were several bad things about his character that we were led to believe but we later find out are not true. I suspected this from the beginning. He seemed far too meek to be responsible for those things. But I would still never ever forget that he impregnated a 13 year old girl. That is unforgivable. I cant believe some people like him more than Gabriel. Linden may be meek and not evil, but he has some serious issues! How could he live like that and think its ok? Having three wives, four in the beginning, sleeping with multiple women yet claiming to love only one. He's twisted in the head.

And the way sex was handle in this book made me extremely uncomfortable. There were no sex scenes in this book, but it was talked about casually, and it was obviously going on all the time. And there is one scene when Rhine walks in on Jenna and Linden and there is a kama sutra on the floor. Awkward! I don't think I would have the instincts to survive in this kind of world. I would be the girl who was crying and banging on the wall and vomiting at the beginning. If I ever made it to the house, which is unlikely, it would have been obvious from the beginning I wasn't there willingly. But how horrifying everything is just makes Rhine all the more impressive for surviving it. But I would not recommend this for younger readers.

I was really impressed with Rhine. Aside from accepting Linden a little too easily, she was very strong and never gave up hope of getting out or finding her brother. She was the strongest of the three wives, the most admirable, and an amazing actress to fool Linden for so long. And I really loved Gabriel. I was disappointed that Linden got so much more focus than Gabriel, but there will be much more Gabriel in the next book which I am looking forward to. The ending was wonderful, and hopeful, and I am very much looking forward to the next book. The Handmaid's Tale comparisons are inevitable. I read The Handmaid's Tale a long time ago in school. They are quite similar and I enjoyed them both.

“You've been captive for so long that you don't even realize you want freedom anymore.”

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