Monday, January 30, 2012

Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano: review

Goodreads rating: 3.94
Hardcover, 358 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Setting: Florida (United States)

Obviously, something went terribly wrong. Genetic mutations have festered, reducing human longevity to twenty-five, even less for most women. To prevent extinction, young girls are kidnapped, mated in polygamous marriages with men eager to procreate. Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery, a recent victim of this breeding farm mentality, has vowed to break loose from its fetters; but finding allies and a safe way out is a challenge she can only hope she will survive.


Wither was an interesting read for me. I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did to be honest. You know how I love my dystopians, but maybe it’s because the name of the series was disconcerting, or whatever it was. Needless to say, I was wrong to doubt it. Wither is like a fairytale gone horribly wrong, and all set in a dystopian and post-apocalyptic world. In this future version of earth, there was a cure found for cancer. Those that were given the vaccine ended up being completely healthy and living long natural lives. But their children turned out to be not so healthy. Girls die at 20, and boys die at 25 from a slow unknown disease. This makes life slightly more difficult.

I enjoyed everything about this story. Rhine was an amazing main character, and the other characters, no matter how minor, were not forgotten. I grew to love everyone of them, and while it was important that they were all locked away in this mansion far away from Rhine’s home and twin brother, it was the characters that really made this story. As I said, it felt like a fairytale gone wrong. Like Beauty and the Beast, but instead of the young man being the beast, his father was more of a beast (emotional one, anyway). Rhine is kidnapped, like so many girls of this time do. She has no idea where they’re taking her. Eventually, she is one of three girls to survive. One of the other three girls had two sisters in the truck they came in. And everyone else was shot.

Obviously, Rhine doesn’t like Linden. He’s the reason she’s even there in the first place, and now she’ll be forced to make children with this man she already loathes. She also grows not to hate him though. His first wife is dying of the disease, and he’s still in love with her when he marries Rhine and the other two girls. His wife insisted. This story is already heartbreaking. On top of Rhine, trying to avoid sleeping with Linden, she starts to develop feelings for one of the servants, Gabriel. I was sad that Gabriel basically disappeared in the middle of the book. More of Linden’s father’s doings. But the little romance that they did have was beautiful, and I can’t wait to see more of them in the next one.

This book is full of heartache and betrayal and I absolutely fell in love. If you’re into dystopians and haven’t read this one, definitely check it out. Even if you don’t like dystopians, think evil twisted fairy tale and you just can’t say no.


  1. You've described it perfectly, this book really is so heart breaking. I always felt so bad for poor Rhine, but also had a soft spot for Linden who really isn't the bad guy in the situation. I've heard that Fever is amazing as well so I have high hopes for this series!

    Kristan @ Lost Amongst the Shelves

  2. I liked this book too. So beautifully written. But after discussing it with another YA novelist friend, I realise there were some problems with credibility that I'm not sure I can overcome. I think I'll read the next one though.

  3. Awww. I feel bad for rhine too. But come to think of it, she will just be more in dangered if she leaves Linden. I dont think Linden is the bad guy here. I like Linden a lot for Rhine. I just don't buy Rhine and Gabriel's relationship. Their relationship seemed rush and I just can't feel it. As for Linden, I really feel that even if Rhine is neglecting her feelings for Linden. Deep inside her, I know she's falling for Linden.


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