It’s time for a book review! Of all the books I have read this month, Wither was the biggest challenge for me. The first book in The Chemical Gardens Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano, this book is getting some serious buzz. However, after reading blurbs and a few reviews I had my doubts. The good news? Once I started reading it I could not put it down. The not so good news? After days of thinking about it, I am still not sure how to explain my thoughts. I apologize in advance if this seems convoluted. Let’s see if I can sort this out for you. Here goes nothing.
Wither (Chemical Gardens Trilogy #1) by Lauren DeStefano, 2011.
Sixteen-year-old Rhine and her twin brother Rowan live in a world that has been decimated by nuclear warfare and a mysterious virus that causes people to die in their twenties. While scientists race against the clock to cure this disease, teen girls are often kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages for the sake of reproducing. Rhine finds herself in exactly this position. Tricked by the lure o f work, she is kidnapped by Gatherers and becomes a bride and sister-wife. Despite being offered a life of wealth and luxury, Rhine is focused on escaping. With help from a servant, Rhine attempts to break free from her marriage and her mansion, a place ruled by her mad-scientist father-in-law who will stop at nothing to find a cure to save his son.
I will start by saying that despite some serious flaws, I was completely enthralled with this book. You have to be willing to suspend your disbelief to truly enjoy this book. DeStefano’s world building is practically nonexistent. You just have to take her word for it that these horrible things happened. You also have to trust that 20-something young men are desperately concerned with repopulating a dying earth. What saved this book for me was the richly detailed accounts of daily life among the sister wives. Each girl had a unique personality and role to play, and each was heartbreaking in a different way. The most surprising part of the story was Linden, the husband. I suppose I expected him to be an ogre, but the true villain is his father. Linden, like his wives, is just a pawn in his father’s game. Ok, before this gets any harder to understand I am going to wrap it up.
Bottom line: A flawed, but engaging story and I will read the next one.
If you are a fan of dystopian-survival novels try Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and keep a look out for Blood Red Road by Miora Young. You can also check out this handy list I made a while back while I was waiting for Mockingjay.
Have a great holiday weekend, and Happy Reading (if you have time)!