Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing1 Release date: March 22, 2011
The Chemical Garden Trilogy:
Reviewed by: Tynga
Book Source: ARC from S&S Canada for review
What if you knew exactly when you would die?
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 limted time she has left.
Post third world war, planet earth is merely a shade of its original beauty. Only North America survived man’s destruction, leaving small inhabitable islands where flourish continents used to be. But it’s not the only damage the human race caused. In hopes of creating perfect human beings, an entire generation of children were created in labs, the First Generation. Little did they know though, this generation’s children were all dying before adulthood. Boys and girls found their graves at respectively 25 and 20 years old. In hopes of giving humanity a second breath, many researchers are working on a cure, while young girls are kidnapped and sold to wealthy families to become wives in polygamous marriage and bear child. Rhine ends up in one of those marriage, and will do everything she can to break free and get back to her twin brother Rowan.
Dystopian isn’t my usual kind of read but I really enjoyed the world Lauren created. I love how she paid attention to details by adding a touch of new technology yet respecting the step back humanity suffered after the war. Her world was introduce smoothly to the readers while it could’ve been heavy, so kudos to the debut author. Her descriptions were also very vivid, which made it extremely easy to imagine the world Rhine lives in.
The characters were very believable even though I didn’t always support their decisions. Rhine is a brilliant girl who was content with her modest life in Manhattan with her twin brother and finds herself parachuted in an artificial world of luxury. She will take many risks in hopes of freedom. I though she was very interesting, along with her sister wives Jenna (18 years old, which I adored) and Cecily (13, which I didn’t understand) but my favorite characters was Linden, their husband. He is such a fragile man and so oblivious to what’s around him. He is as much a victim in this story as his unwilling wives. I felt pity for this broken-hearted young man who is barely more than his father’s puppet. I’d also like to mention Gabriel, a domestic who’s such a sweet heart. He made me smile a couple of times.
Call me prude, but one thing bothered me in this book. Sex is never described but only referred to, and the 13 years old Cecily gets pregnant from 20 years old Linden. While I understand the world they live in, it still left me uncomfortable, so I though I’d mention it. Again, sex is never described, so it’s not of poor taste, it’s a personal preference. Also, Lauren makes a big deal about Rhine having eyes of two different colors, but it was somewhat irrelevant to the story, will it gain a meaning in the following book?
The conclusion was good but not very satisfying for me. I won’t explain why as I don’t want to spoil everything. I’ll only say that a chapter was closed and I was hoping to see the consequences, but I’ll have to wait for the next book to quench my thirst.
Wither is overall a good debut for author Lauren DeStefano and I can’t wait to see what she’ll come up with next!