Title: Wither (Chemical Garden #1)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Published: March 22nd 2011 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Source: ARC from Around The World Tours
Summary: "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 limited time she has left."
Thoughts:What to say about Wither. First off, I just wanted to point out how perfectly the cover fits the tone of the book. Not only is it stunning, but it gives you an idea of what the premise will be like. It's beautiful, arduous, and hopeful, all at the same time.
Wither is a dystopian novel, with kind of a "Big Love" spin to it. As you can see in the summary, males die at the age of 25, and women at 20. Thus, they must repopulate as young as possible. Young girls are often kidnapped from their homes, and traded off as wives. In Rhine's case, she's picked up by a wealthy family and forced to live as a prison in their mansion. There's an elevator, but you need a key card to go anywhere, so she's trapped on the same floor as her sister wives. As she explores the grounds of the mansion, she realizes how fake everything is. From the plants, to the hologram fish, to even the kindness of her husband (Linden)'s father, nothing is as it seems.
All Rhine knows is she must escape this fake life, and live in the real world again. She must find a way out, back to her brother, before it's too late.
One thing I truly adored about this novel is all the different relationships between the characters. It's funny how each wife perceives being Linden's wife. For example, Cecilia's naive views on the situation almost had me in tears. Though her words portrayed excitement, all I kept thinking about was how young she is, and what she could have been doing instead. Poor Jenna was just miserable the whole time, and then Rhine, who acts so innocent, plots. I did have an issue with Rhine's relationship to Gabriel. I didn't understand their attraction to each other. Was it because they were both, in a sense, prisoners and because so, they bonded? That's what it felt like to me.
Now, Linden. I adored his character so much. He's not as innocent as he seems, but just accepts things as they are. I think his heart was always in the right place. His father clearly lies to him. As oppose to Rhine and Gabriel, his relationship with Rhine felt more real to me. He adored his wives and would do anything for them. Honestly, his naive nature made him all the more adorable for me. Sometimes, I wanted to shake him and scream "OPEN YOUR EYES, LOOK AT WHAT YOUR FATHER IS DOING!", but I couldn't. I mean, it's not like he could hear me, right? Anyway, in the battle of Linden and Gabriel, I choose Linden.
One problem I had with Wither (and a lot of dystopia lately) is why the world is the way it is. I understand the "world building process" and what not, but I want to know the who, whats, whys, etc. What happened that contaminated the world? And how come the rest of the world, other than North America, not exist? Are there not history books out there or were those destroyed as well? Hopefully these answers will be answered in Wither's sequel because like I'm sure many of you out there feel, I hate having so many questions unanswered.
Overall, Wither is an original and alluring novel that will surely touch every one's heart. Though it's not fast paced nor action packed, it's beauty is behind each and every word. I recommend reading it in doses. Personally, I think it's more enjoyable that way and will help you really understand the meaning behind the story.