Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy)From Goodreads:
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.
I love the premise of this story. It is an unusual YA story and not typical in that genre at all. The world in which Rhine inhabits does not need much explanation to find it dangerous and desperate. The author does the set up for this world well. And although you do feel the horror of capture with Rhine and the other girls, it does not last nor do I feel it as confining as I should; however, it is still not a world in which I would want to live.

With this story, Rhine finds that her nemesis, Housemaster Vaughn entirely creepy, and I would agree. I think he was the perfect villain in this story. His experiments were secret and he had the true control over the household and the wives, not her husband, Linden. However, and this is where I part from others who loved the book, I wanted that mystery solved. I wanted that tension and horror in my book. Instead we had more of Rhine bumbling along trying to escape. On one hand, it makes sense. What else would a 16 year old want more than freedom? On the other hand, the mystery and danger was held by Vaughn and what her husband would or wouldn't do to defy his father is what I wanted played out here. Plus, I had many scenarios in my head as to what was really behind Vaughn's experiments and the cryptic warnings Rhine received from the other sister-wives.

I do realize that this is a trilogy and so my answers may lie in the other books. I just think my disappointment lied in the ending which seemed reminiscent of the Handmaiden's Tale. I just wanted it taken further, but perhaps I will find out why it was taken in this way as the Chemical Garden winds through the other 2 stories.

I give this book 3 stars. I have parts of this book I'd really like to discuss, but won't since it would be huge spoilers within the plot. I obviously found the story interesting and often I did feel like I was on the edge of my seat for much of the story waiting for the dangerous act. Perhaps that is why I was disappointed in the ending. However, I will be looking forward to the other books and see where I am taken and what lies in that basement where Vaughn toils away. Oh, and this book is published today!

I received this ARC from the publisher and no compensation for my review was given.


  1. I am really loving reading all the reviews for Wither! Some people are LOVING it, some are HATING it, and others are kind of in the middle! I think ya'll need a discussion board because it looks like there are some plot points to discuss :)

    Great review!

  2. Sounds like a promising read, I've heard lots of good things about it. And I love the cover.

  3. Me again. I thought you might be interested in this review of Wither by another good blogger buddy of mine.


  4. I think that was one of my problems with Wither too, Melissa. Yeah sure, Vaughn was creepy, but without the tension and horror, I couldn't really understand why Rhine wanted to run away so badly. Surely she could have just asked for her bother and they would have brought him to her. Simple.

    Of course I realize things like that never truly are. LOL

    I think by now, everyone and their momma has read Wither so lets discuss away. :D

  5. I am really confused whether I should read the book or not. There are such extreme reviews for this book! I loved The Handmaid's Tale and I think the ending of Wither might annoy me a lot. I will still read it because the premise does sound intriguing.

  6. Hi there! Found your review via a link left by my blogger friend Petty Witter. ^_^ See, I'm on the "love" end of this book. Really enjoyed the story and while yes, they don't resolve just what Vaughn is doing in the basement, as you said, it is a trilogy so just because things seemed sort of "ended without conclusion" at books end...there are two other books in the series that could easily swing the story back around to characters seemingly left behind. By itself, I enjoyed it quite a bit...the story building style reminded me distinctly of MATCHED by Ally Condie. There's an air of menace and the lure of danger, without there being a whole lot of action. To me, it worked well in creating the "beauty" of the novel. But everyone is going to have a different reading experience. Thanks for sharing yours! Happy reading! ^_^

  7. You definitely make a good point Melissa, I didn't give too much thought to the mystery element and why Linden feared Vaughn so much, I guess I just got caught up with Rhine. Now that you mention it though, I have lots of questions I want answered, but like you said, maybe we'll get more in the next book!

  8. I echo your curiosity about Vaughn and what is really going on down in the laboratory. Bodies going in….not coming out. I'm pretty sure we haven't seen the last of him and that Rhine will somehow end up back down there. I also like how the relationship between the sister-wives evolved.

    Am I the only one who hasn't read The Handmaiden's Tale??? Yikes, talk about a deficit in my reading. Gotta remedy that, pronto.

  9. I've been trying to find someone who wasn't as in love with this as I was so thank you sooo much for your honest review Melissa! I think it is so important to have a variety of differing opinions when I'm looking at a book to buy I'm glad to know there will be for this one too.

  10. @Felicia... I think I'm more in the middle, but on the side of liking it. I didn't hate it at all. I was just frustrated is all.

    @...Petty... I have cover love for it too and I'll check out your friend's review. Thanks!

    @Missie... Yes, it is like the horror was held at bay because it is a YA. It's not the first YA book to do this at all. Actually about her brother... *spoiler* if Vaughn knew her origins, then what about her brother? Could he have taken him too? Vaughn could have also used the brother as incentive to keep her there by improving his life. Just too many things seemed to be skipped. */spoiler*

    @Misha... I think you will like it, but maybe wait until the trilogy is released in it's whole? I did like it, just was frustrated.

    @GMR... Oh I agree... I don't think that they are done with the characters at all. I was just frustrated that they didn't go that extra mile to make it truly creepy. It seems as if it was just at the line but didn't quite make it over to where I would have just loved it. I didn't hate it in the least... just was frustrated that it didn't go that extra inch into true horror.

    @Jenny... Just too many questions were brought up and then left to fester in my brain. Oh, I wanted more creepiness. That doesn't make me too creepy does it? ;)

    @Stephanie... if I was only left with the curiosity of Vaughn, I might have been able to take it. *spoiler* Why were there cryptic messages and then it was dropped? I'm sure there will be more answers forthcoming, but for this book alone, I was left screaming "I want to know! I want it to be even creepier/ scarier!" */spoiler*

    Oh and about the Handmaiden's Tale... I see that others have compared it to that book as well. I only thought the ending compared. The rest of the book really didn't for me. Sorta the same premise, but it was more about them taking religion and using it as a weapon to subdue. This one was void of that premise.

  11. @Rhianna... I have seen all types of reviews. From those that hated it to those that loved it. To me who was sorta in the middle (I'm toward the liking it tho). So, you don't have to worry about that! :)

  12. Truth be told I am conflicted, I hear good things, I hear ok things. I just do not know

  13. I'm also conflicted on this one. But loved your review!

  14. Im on the fence if I wanna read this or not... I think I might pass =/

    Thanks for the review Melissa!

  15. I found you through BookBlogs! I am now a follower, will you follow me at http://www.magicalurbanfantasyreads.com/

  16. Great review! I wasn't a fan of this book. I didn't enjoy the concept though I thought the writing was good (if that makes any sense...) :)

  17. I think I felt the same, disappointed at something that could have been so good!

  18. I don't really know what to think of this book, some reviews praise it to the high heavens and then others find it just to be "meh"... I loved reading your opinion on it Melissa! Really puts things into perspective for me!

  19. Thanks for the review. I'm hearing lots about this book. But I'm not sure if it's one I'll read though.


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