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Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy) by…

Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy) (edition 2011)

by Lauren DeStefano

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1,8052603,878 (3.82)65
Title:Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy)
Authors:Lauren DeStefano
Info:Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (2011), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Read, Your library

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Wither by Lauren DeStefano


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Showing 1-5 of 258 (next | show all)
Wither presents a dystopian future where men die at 25 and women die at 20. The reader is presented this world through the eyes of a kidnapped girl forced into a marriage with a rich man. Though an interesting concept, the novel tends to fall into cliches and stereotypical characters. However, these cliches are at least presented intelligently and the novel reads briskly.
  TheBigHuckabowski | Apr 28, 2016 |
I was feeling kind of burnt out on YA dystopias. The first time I looked at Wither, I put it back - thinking it wouldn’t be my kind of thing. I gave it another chance and I am so glad I did. Wither is a unique foray into the YA dystopian genre - it’s twisted and grim and that’s how I like it! The thrust of the novel isn’t really on romance, but on the strength of friendships between women and the bonds between siblings.

Okay, the general conceit is that, in the future, a team of genetic engineers were able to create a “perfect” generation - one with no disease. However, all subsequent generations have been cursed with a virus that kills every girl at the age twenty and every boy at twenty-five. There are still some of the first generation folks around - people now in their seventies - but everyone else is under 25 and knows their life is harshly limited. This is a grim world, full of social decay, poverty, overflowing orphanages and systemic corruption.

Rhine is sixteen and has four years to live. She and her twin brother, Rowan, have lived alone since their parents (two first-generation scientists) were killed. When they died, Rhine and Rowan stopped believing anyone would develop a cure. The world will die.

As the novel begins, Rhine has been abducted and is being held in the back of a dark van with a group of other terrified girls. We quickly learn that in this world the wealthy pay “Gatherers” for kidnapped girls to be their unwilling brides. From the group of girls Rhine is chosen because of her heterochromia. Two other girls are also selected - and the rest are shot. This sets the tone immediately as a dangerous, deadly world with high stakes.

Rhine finds herself the prisoner/bride of incredibly wealthy Governor Linden, who lives in a sprawling mansion-estate run by his sinister father, Housemaster Vaughn. Vaughn is the one who is really in control, a first-generation man who spends his time performing experiments in the basement. Everyone is scared of him.

Rhine and her sister-wives are trapped on their floor, which is controlled by high-tech security and holograms. As she gets to know the other girls, Rhine develops a strong bond with the other two girls. Jenna is older, withdrawn and mysterious. When we learn the cause of her sombre disposition it’s really heartbreaking. Cecily is the opposite - a little girl, only thirteen, she has been brought up in an impoverished orphanage and thinks the mansion and their husband is a dream come true. She can’t understand why Rhine and Jenna don’t want to be there. And she can’t understand why they are horrified that Linden would have such a young bride.

Rhine is determined to escape her forced marriage and find her way back to her brother. This is her strongest motivation throughout the novel. She isn’t stupid about how she goes about this though, knowing that she needs to take things slowly and gain the trust of her new husband to be allowed more freedom to move around the mansion. To this end she pretends to fall for Linden, and as she does she (and the reader) learn more about this boy. He turns out to be more sympathetic than you think - for instance, he thinks all three of the girls wanted to be brides and has no idea the other girls the Gatherers took were killed. He also has some depth to him, as revealed through his drawings.

But Rhine never wanted to be his wife. Add to this a servant named Gabriel who she finds herself maybe sort-of attracted to and Rhine is no less determined to find a way out of her lavish jail cell.

I thought the relationship between Rhine and Gabriel was the weakest part of the story - I loved the sisterhood that developed between Rhine, Jenna and Cecily and how even Linden was intimated by their bond. I loved the futuristic setting of the mansion with its holograms and sinister underbelly. I loved Rhine’s determination to get back to her brother and the strong bond between the siblings, their life revealed gradually though Rhine’s memories. However, the Gabriel/Rhine romance fell flat for me.

She doesn’t even know if she loves him, since the two aren’t allowed enough freedom to explore that - which is part of the point - but it makes it hard to feel invested. Rhine sees Gabriel so infrequently and for such small amounts of time that it makes her feelings for him hard to buy. Anyway, I’m assuming this will be developed more in the next two books.

Overall, I loved Wither! I really found myself caring about Rhine, Jenna and Cecily and wanting to know what would happen to them. The world the author has created is suitably dark and dystopian, but it's a unique spin on the genre that I don’t think I’ve seen before. I love the friendships between women that are so integral to this plot - Rhine also befriends Linden’s original wife, his childhood sweetheart Rose, who is dying from the virus when we meet her.

I recommend Wither to fans of YA dystopia and plan on reading the sequels soon. ( )
  catfantastic | Apr 20, 2016 |
I read this because my daughter just loved it and wanted me to read it. I can see why she loved it, good youth fantasy with a hook (after world calamity, one generation is bread to be the super gen, but their children all die young; what will happen to the heroine, will a cure be found before she withers). As with most YF books these days, some of the life factors are really bothersome to me as a liberated woman, but that is also the fun of it -the "no way out" romance teen hook. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
How very different from others in it's genre. This world is filled with tragedy and horrors I couldn't bare to imagine. The main character was very easy to relate to. The "villain" was very scary in a very human way. The world that this author has created makes you stop and think about some very real things and situations that could come into play very possibly in our lifetime. There are scientific themes that while probably seemed well meaning in the beginning, turned out to have horrifying consequences, thus reinforcing my belief that certain things should not be messed with. At the very least, we should be fully aware of what could happen when we do. I love a book like this that keeps me entertained, all the while forcing me to think and expand my views. I am very eager to read the rest of the series and see what becomes of Rhine. ( )
  MynTop | Apr 8, 2016 |
How would you feel if you were 16 years old and and knew that you only had 4 years left to live? Well this is life of Rhine Ellery. When I read this on the back cover of this book, I knew that this had to be a great book to read. I really enjoyed this book and it was very eye catching. If you want to find out what does Rhine tries to do stop her death you should read this book. It is a great read. ( )
  IeshaDavis | Mar 22, 2016 |
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This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang. But a whimper. ~T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men"
For my dad, who turned to me and said, "one day kid, you'll do great things."
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I wait.  They keep us in the dark so long that we lose sense of our eyelids.
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After modern science turns every human into a genetic time bomb with men dying at age twenty-five and women dying at age twenty, girls are kidnapped and married off in order to repopulate the world.

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