Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Chemical Garden Trilogy Book #1: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Another dystopian YA novel, and this time the content made me sick. But before you assume that I didn’t like it, let me explain. The content of this book made me sick, but that was because it was well written to be that way.

In this novel, humans have somehow perfected making children without any anomalies – i.e. cancer and other diseases – but a big problem emerges when these humans start having children of their own. These children and others like it are born with a virus – a shortened life span virus. Girls in this world live to only be twenty. Boys live to their twenty-fifth birthday. Because of this shortened life span, girls are being kidnapped and married off to produce more babies so that way there isn’t a shortage in the population. When Wither begins, our narrator has just been kidnapped with a bunch of other girls and is brought in for inspection. She and two others make the cut, but the others don’t and are killed on the spot.

Rhine, Jenna, and Cecily are brought to a mansion where they meet their new husband – Linden. He’s already married to a woman named Rose, but she is about to die from the virus, even though Linden’s father – Vaughn – is trying to come up with an antidote. What Rhine learns is that Vaughn is almost like Dr. Frankenstein with all his experiments that he does down in the basement. Rhine knows that she has to get out and get back to her brother, but if she tries and gets caught Vaughn will have her killed. Then there’s also the issue of the domestic who brings her breakfast, Gabriel, who she’s starting to develop feelings for…

So I know I shouldn’t have loved this book as much as I did. Another dystopian novel with a main character who’s almost like Katniss from The Hunger Games series, but…. I don’t know, there was just something about this novel that made me fall in love with it. It might have been the way DeStefano wrote about the sister wives and the character of Cecily who is thirteen and very eager to perform her wifely duties. The idea made me so terribly ill, I had to put the book aside for a day. It could have also been the way that she wrote about Rhine developing a friendship with Jenna, Gabriel, the house staff, and Linden. There was a moment near the end when I thought that Rhine was actually going to forget about not letting Linden have his way with her and just let it happen. That’s how close they got.

Final Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Different take on a genre that we’ve been bombarded with lately. Loved the characters. Curious to know what’s going to happen in the next book now that *spoiler* Gabriel and Rhine have run away.

Bookshelf worthy? Support your local library.

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