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February 19, 2012

Co-Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)
Title: Wither (The Chemical Garden #1)
Author: Lauren DeStefano

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication date: May 22, 2011
Challenges: Dystopian, TBR
Genre(s): Young Adult (Dystopian)
Source: Own
Pages: 358
By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.
When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can't bring herself to hate him as much as she'd like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband's strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?
Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

From the first time I laid eyes on Wither's cover and found out it is a dystopian novel, I couldn't wait to read it. The story was also different from the usual dystopian novel, girls die at the age of 20 and boys at the age of 25. This is why kidnapping girls off the street and forcing them into polygamous marriages is a normal act done by the richer, upper class. You can’t help but hope that criminal justice will be served.The main protagonist, Rhine has always stuck by her twin brother, ever since their parents died. Once Rhine enters the mansion that became her 'home' all thoughts occupying her head were of escape. Rhine was a perfect protagonist, never losing sight to what's dear for her and also never losing hope. She calculates, manipulates, and cleverly uses things to her advantage, she also has an eye for detail and, lets just say, Gabriel, one of her husband, Linden's house servants. 
Throughout the book, while I was rooting for Rhine and Gabriel to escape, I couldn't help but feel sympathetic towards Linden. You'll come to see that he's also a prisoner in his own house; by his father, who is feared by the whole household. There were times where I was hoping that somehow Rhine would convince Linden to runaway with them. I also felt sorry for Rhine's sister wives, while they did not have the same motivation or will to escape, they each lost someone or something for this marriage, whether it was a childhood, or siblings. Lauren DeStefano delivered a story that is breathtaking, heartbreaking, and full of hope all packaged with the most beautiful cover i've seen in 2011. I am eagerly awaiting to see what happens in Fever, the second book in the Chemical Gardens Trilogy.

Wither was a book that was very high on my TBR list for a while.The cover was just gorgeous, and the synopsis was just so intriguing. Girls die at the age of 20, and boys die at the age of 25. Girls are taken away from their homes and are forced to get married in order to get pregnant, which results in the human race to not get extinct. 
Rhine, the main protagonist, is very different from most of the characters I read about. Rhine was always by her twin brother's side after her parents death. After she gets kidnapped, and gets forced into marriage, she tries to escape to get back to her brother whom she is strongly attached to. She conducts a plan, with the help of one of her her husband's servants, Gabriel.
The story evolves as Rhine gets to know Gabriel in the little time she sees him every time he comes to serve her food. Rhine also gets to know her two "sisters", Cecily and Jenna, who also share the same husband. Rhine tries to get close to Linden, her husband, so she can gain his trust. Even though I felt kind of sorry for Linden sometimes, I did want Rhine and Gabriel to escape and get their freedom.
I don't want to spoil anything, but I'm very excited as to what will happen in the next book, Fever. The ending just left me hanging, and wanting more. Wither is definitely a new spice of dystopian that I would love to see more of! 
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  1. It must be so much more fun to be able to share your reading experience with each other. Thank you for both of your thoughts.
    -FABR Steph@FiveAlarmBookReviews

    1. Sorry my computer at work is weird and the only way it will let me comment is through a reply instead of my own comment.

      I'm sort of scared to read this book at this point. Many people have been posting less than positive reviews for the sequel Fever so I just wonder if I should even bother reading Wither if Fever is going to probably disappoint me. I guess I might as well give this one a shot because I've owned it since it first released and some people really do enjoy this series.

      Glad you two enjoyed this book, thanks for the great review.