Monday, March 14, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Title/Author: Wither (Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano
Publisher/Date published: March 22nd 2011 by Simon & Schuster
How I got this book: received it from the publisher
Why I read this book: are you kidding me? This book sounds totally awesome. YOU should read it.

Goodreads summary: "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 limited time she has left."

So, the whole blogging world is buzzing about this book. Or at least the ones I've read lately. And with good reason, I might add. This book is a stunning debut. Reading this, I should have been looking for a topic for my evidence-based-medicine paper (while writing this review, I should be finishing said paper). But I just could not force myself away from this book, and not just because I don't like writing EBM-related papers. It was really amazing.

The world DeStefano has created is horrifying. Though cancer is a thing of the past thanks to genetic manipulation, you now only live to see the age of 20 if you're a girl, and 25 is you're a guy. The whole idea of a virus being triggered and killing you (pretty horribly might I add) is definitely scary and not so unimaginable for a med student like me.

A big effect of this, which I hadn't thought of, is that most kids loose their parents when they're 6 years old (if they're lucky, cause that would mean your mother had you at 14). Most kids live on the streets, stealing to make a living. Can you imagine being 5 or 6 and having to look after yourself? I was tucked into bed and read a bedtime story at that age.

The relationship between Rhine and her two sister-wives is very complicated and amazing. I loved how both the other wives had their own voice and were really fleshed out characters. Rhine is a strong girl herself and really just wants to go back to her twin brother, who I hope we'll get to meet in the next book.
Linden, the husband, is a confusing character and so naive I wanted to slap him on the back of the head sometimes. Seriously.
His dad is totally creepy and seems evil, though I get that he wants to do everything in his power to make sure his son will survive.

The romance isn't over the top and while it's there, Rhine doesn't let her universe revolve around it. Which is pretty nice in my opinion. I thought the whole thing was very sweet and would love to see it develop further in the series.

All in all, I thought this book was amazing and it nearly brought me to tears due to something I won't mention, cause I don't want to spoil anything. But in case you want to know, light up the following:
Jenna's death. So, so sad!

Oh, and have I mentioned the cover love I have for this one? The details are incredible (the ring, the bird).
Go read it. Now. I promise it's not overly hyped. It's hyped just right.

My rating: 5 stars


  1. I enjoyed it, but I not as much as you did. I had problems with the world building, the ending, and Rhine's relationship with Gabriel. I thought they were all underdeveloped and would have liked more. I do agree that the situation is horrifying and I wonder what the outside world is like.

  2. I can't wait to read this book and now I want it even MORE!!!

  3. I've seen a couple blog posts different places for this book. Looks really good. Girl on the cover looks like Mandy Moore.
    And I know what you mean. Seen a lot of good stuff about the Mortal Instruments series everywhere!!
    Happy Reading!

  4. I very much agree with this review. The author built an incredible world, although I feel like we just skimmed the surface of it. I also loved that the sister wives were her confidants, not her rivals - it would be so easy to demonize them. I agree that the romance wasn't a huge part of the book - I thought it was the book's weakest point.