Wither, Lauren DeStefano

Title: Wither

Author: Lauren DeStefano

I’ve had this on my to-read list for awhile, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC.  Huzzah.  Guys, I seriously tore through this sucker in a day.  Less than, actually.  First off, lemme start with this – the cover is WICKED GORGEOUS. I’ll be the first to admit I totally judge a book by its cover.  I remember seeing this on a GoodReads book list and I literally thought “oooo pretty” and added it to my “too read” stack. Sad but true.

Second, I’ll put this out there.  Feel free to judge me.  Because of my recent romance kick, I’ve had a hard time settling into YA books.  I tell myself this is because most YA books just aren’t that…what’s the word…I dunno, decent? Quality? Not crap?  Rip offs of Stephanie Meyer?  But I’m pretty sure a small part of me misses the, er, adult-ness of a BIG GIRL BOOK.  Meh.  Well, I am happy to say that Wither hooked me.

Wither is the first in a series called The Chemical Garden Trilogy.  Set in a world ravaged by a virus that kills men at 25 and women at 20, Wither follows the story of 16 year old Rhine Ellery.  Rhine is kidnapped by Gatherers, men who swipe young girls off the streets and force them into polygamous marriages in order to keep up the world’s population.  Despite Rhine’s crap-luck at being kidnapped, her genetic abnormality of heterchromia (keep up, slackers – that means two different colored eyes) manages to land her a spot in a wealthy and connected estate.  Her husband-to-be, Linden, is actually a decent guy.  His father, on the other hand, not so much.  Old Man Creepy is what is called a First Generation – those who were uneffected by the virus and live into a ripe old age.  Rhine manages to make friends with her fellow captives, aka sister wives, one 13, the other 18, as well as the staff of the estate.  She particularly becomes fond of the servant Gabriel.  Wither follows Rhine’s struggle with her forced marriage, her love and concern for her twin brother fending for himself in the big-bad world, and her bond with her sister wives and husband. She wants desperately to escape, but she wars with the ramifications of such actions.

So, yeah, I read this in a few hours. It was incredibly fascinating.  I loved the world DeStefano created.  It’s violent, dirty and brutal, but also intriguingly passionate.  You want Rhine to fight for herself and the four years she has left of her life, but at the same time you find yourself sympathizing with the Baddies.  Or at least, you come to understand why they do what they do.   In a way I was reminded of The Hunger Games, or at least the post-apocalyptic feel of it. I very much liked Rhine.  No whiny, brooding idiot here.  She’s smart, passionate and headstrong.

What I truly appreciated, though, was the non-cliffhanger ending.  When I pick up a brand spanking new book and see it’s part of a series I cringe.  I’m a bitch about having to wait.  I need. To. Know. What. Happens.  Wither has a satisfying ending that ties up the ends for the first installment, but still leaves you looking forward to where Rhine is heading next.  Effing-A.

What I loved about this book: the world building, hands down.

What I didnt’ like: So far, nothing really.

My Rating: B++

I’m definitely sticking with this series.  I imagine it’s going to be HUGE.

Wither is due out March 22, 2011 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

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2 comments

  1. Just out of curiousity, would you recommend this book for a YA? It sounds like something my DD would enjoy (she loved The Hunger Games) but want to make sure that the marriage and reproductive aspects aren’t too mature. Thoughts?

    1. I think Wither is a good mix between adult themes crossed with a teenage mindframe, if that makes any sense. There are some mature themes in The Chemical Garden series, but nothing too outrageous. If anything it makes you think. The dystopian theme is a nice touch and it forces you to think outside the boundaries. There are allusions to sex but we don’t get gratuitous scenes, and it’s all appropriate to what’s happening in the plot. I know the 2nd in the series just released recently. I’d say it’s probably a safe recommendation.

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