Title: Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Release Date : March 22, 2011
Available to order here: Amazon / Book Depository / Barnes & Noble
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. A dystopian fantasy series starter with wings.
I rarely ever gush over the beauty of a cover in a review, let alone begin a review with it, one cannot help but be in complete awe of the book cover of "Wither" - which is precisely the reason why I needed to comment on it. One cannot quite decide if it's the beautiful features of the girl in the ravishingly beautiful gown, the contrast of the charming caged bird which tells a story in itself, or the interesting geometrical graphics that adorn the cover - but you cannot help but be drawn into the book, like it has magnetic qualities, from the moment you set your eyes on it.
But as beautiful as the outside of the book is, the world contained within its pages is as equally dark and disturbing. A world where girls as young as thirteen years of age are kidnapped from their homes to serve as "wives", and later as human incubators for babies that the rich and wealthy so that their progeny is assured to continue and their lineage preserved. Why do these drastic measures have to be taken? Because in this futuristic world, where babies were engineered for perfection - the side effect that ensued from this genetic alteration is that the females of this society die at age twenty, while the males only survive till they're twenty five. The only people safe from this genetic preponderance for death over life are the ones who were born before these genetic experiments took place.
Rhine Elery is part of this dark and difficult future, and traverses it day by day as an orphan with the help of her brother Rowan who she is extremely close to. When sixteen year old Rhine is kidnapped to become the bride of Linden along with two other girls, Cecily and Jenna. Despite being plucked from a world of mediocrity and and thrust into the lavish world of the "Vaughn" household, Rhine finds herself lamenting for her freedom, and her brother.
Upon arrival at the Vaughn household, Rhine is met with Rose who is Linden's dying wife, and strikes up a fast friendship with her. Her sister wives Cecily and Jenna each have their own perspective about their captivity. Young and red-haired Cecily has no qualms about her captivity and is glad to have been rescured from an orphanage and having landed into a world where she wants for nothing. Her naivete, and her constant need for attention, results in her always remaining at a distance from her other two sister wives. Jenna has resigned herself to her world of captivity as the only family she had has met their demise, and her past is a murky shadow that she cannot return to - but she is determined to never let her captor win her over. Rhine's husband Linden is a young and sensitive man, but one who is completely oblivious to the way in which his wives were acquired, and seems to live in a constant haze of ignorance created by his father, Housemaster Vaughn. Housemaster Vaughn has sheltered his son from everything, and treats him like a puppet - all the while intimidating and coercing his wives into submitting to Linden. Also, he has a covert lab facility in the basement that is a constant cause of dread for his daughters-in-law, as well as the staff of the house. Housemaster Vaughn is the real problem and without his consent not a leaf can blow astray in the wind around the household, and the more Rhine interacts with him, the farther away she wants to be from him. And last, but not the least, there is Gabriel. The only person in the "Vaughn" household that Rhine truly feels a connection with - someone who seems to have lived his entire life in captivity, and become comfortable with it, yet seems to be the only person who truly makes Rhine feel free even within the walls of her cage.
"Wither" was, undoubtedly, one of the best books I've read so far this year. I cannot wait for "Fever" (The Chemical Garden Trilogy #2) to come out. Lauren DeStefano's writing is superb, with many a lilting phrase in the novel to make you truly appreciate the sadness and starkness of Rhine's world. The Dystopian novel is charged with emotional intensity, does a great job at exploring the emotional roller coaster that Rhine experiences. Will she allow herself to love Linden, who seems to genuinely care for her yet is so naive and sheltered? Or will she fall for Gabriel, who is also complacent in his captivity, but who seems to be the only person she can allow herself to feel vulnerable and free with? Will she see Rowan again? Will she ever be free? How will she survive in this Dystopian world? I assure you, "Wither" is a book that is sure to please, and will be a trilogy that is sure to become a huge success. Read it - NOW!
My Rating : 5/5 Stars
Special Announcement: Please return tomorrow for a chance to win an ARC of Wither by Lauren DeStefano. I happen to have been fortunate enough to have received two ARC's of the book - and I wanted to share my fortune with someone. So make sure you return to the blog tomorrow to enter! :)
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book as a prize for a contest won, I was not compensated monetarily, or in any other way, for my opinion. The opinions stated in this review are solely mine, and are not representative of views of the author, or publishing company, of this book.