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The Chemical Garden (1) - Wither [Paperback]

Lauren DeStefano
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Aug 2011 Chemical Garden 1 (Book 1)

A Handmaid’s Tale for a new generation…

Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery has only four years left to live when she is kidnapped by the Gatherers and forced into a polygamous marriage. Now she has one purpose: to escape, find her twin brother, and go home – before her time runs out forever.

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 she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager (4 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007425473
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007425471
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 329,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A ‘harrowing debut . . . DeStefano has an observant and occasionally pitiless eye, chronicling the cruelties, mercies, and inconsistencies of her young characters. . . . It will be intriguing to see how DeStefano develops [the larger world] as this promising trilogy progresses.’
– Publisher’s Weekly starred review

‘Lauren DeStefano crafts an all too believable future. I loved the world, the romance, the writing – exactly the kind of book I've been craving to read.’
–Carrie Ryan, New York Times bestselling author of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH

‘Wither is an exceptional novel that begins with a bang and doesn't let you go–it's gut-wrenching, shocking, incredible, and completely and utterly absorbing all at once…. DeStefano is a fearless writer, and though it is firmly its own book, Wither will remind readers of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.’

About the Author

Lauren Destefano earned her BA in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing from Albertus Magnus College in Connecticut in 2007. Wither is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not my usual cup of tea 1 Aug 2011
By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
To be honest when I read the book blurb I wasn't blown away, I expected a wishy-washy tale that was part Logan's Run, part Teen angst. What unfurled however was so much better than the blurb led me to believe.

The writing was crisp, the prose outstanding and when added to well-rounded characters (those you'll love and those you'll hate) it really made the whole tale sing. It's cleverly written, the script wonderfully woven and when backed with a unique perspective it really made this a book to remember.

Finally add to this a lead character that the Teen market will be able to associate with as well as adults; it makes this a book that you really can't put down. Great stuff and I'll definitely be glued for other titles in this series.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Twistsed 2 May 2012
Length: 3:58 Mins
I loved this book, it was a very slow book, much more character driven than plot driven but I thought it was perfect in doing so. The relationships between the characters were all so brilliantly complicated.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars well this was different 26 Sep 2011
By carly
Well this was different, loved the interesting story line! Very crisp & to the point writing & either love them or hate them characters! The main character is a very mature 16 year old Rhine Ellery and I just loved her! I got so wrapped up in the world that the end of the book came very quickly!Some parts are very strange to say the least but I think added to the appeal of the book! An interesting an easy read & I am looking forward to reading the next instalment FEVER out 2012! :)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wither - Lauren DeStefano 29 Aug 2012
By Beks
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
J'adore ce livre. I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed Wither. Though I expected to like this heart-felt, beautifully written book, I wasn't prepared for how enthralled I would be by it. Lauren DeStefano's writing kept me glued to every page and I had a hard time putting it down. Her descriptions are vivid, her ideas imaginative. I honestly don't have a bad word to say about this novel. I was hooked from the very first page and I can't wait to continue Rhine's story. This book shows what can happen when folk try to play God: they end up destroying humanity. It's a good lesson and it makes for an extremely interesting read. DeStefano touches on so many moral and ethical issues - teen pregnancy, polygamy, abuse, abduction, murder, and more - and she manages it all flawlessly. Never once did I feel this book was trying too hard to get it's point across.

I want to take just a moment to talk about one character in particular before I give my opinions on the rest of them. This character is Linden. Though DeStefano succeeded in bringing forth sympathic feelings towards Linden, I couldn't help thinking that he was such a manipulative, cradle-snatching fool underneath the pathetic exterior. DeStefano managed to create the perfect cover for him and it's not until you really think about it that you realise he's not deserving of your sympathy. After all, his sexual relationship with thirteen-year-old Cecily was all shades of wrong. I think that might be one of the things that makes this book so great. I know that sounds contradictory, but you have to read the novel to understand. Vaughn, on the other hand, I had no mixed feelings about. I disliked him, as I should. He's the perfect villain. Rhine and Jenna had him pegged from the start.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gothic horror for teens 17 Nov 2011
Wither is set in the not so distant future where the lifespan of humans stops at 20 for females and 25 for males (why the age is so precise is not explained but we'll let that go). Genetic experimentation to create the perfect race has resulted in a lethal genetic disease and as a result most of the world has descended into chaos. Girls are being abducted from the streets and forced to breed. One such abductee is Rhine Ellery and this is her story.

Rhine is kidnapped and forced into a polygamous marriage with the wealthy but insipid and weak in every sense of the word Linden (I really hope young readers won't think he's the romantic hero of the tale; he's nothing of the sort). Under the watchful eye of Linden's villainous father Vaughn, Rhine and her sister wives Cecily, an excitable, bratty 13 year old and 17 year old wary and world-wise Jenna, find themselves trapped in a huge mansion and kept away from the outside world.

The gorgeous cover along with the evocative title are what initially drew me to this book and the blurb also sounded promising. I found the novel a little too simplistic and while I enjoyed reading the book I'm not sure if I'll pick up the second part of the trilogy when it is released next year. More than likely it's my advanced age (late twenties, how horrible!) that prevented me from truly loving this story.

I had many questions as I read Wither. Why doesn't Rhine tell Linden exactly what his father is up to? Why were the girls who weren't chosen to be wives shot and killed if life is so valuable and they need women to increase the population? Why is America the only place left standing in a world decimated by war?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 2.5 Paws - Not Sure What I Was Thinking!! 31 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Well a friend suggested I read this book because apparently it was really good - well, if you say so! This is a dystopia-post-apocalyptic style story, where humans created cures for every illness and disease by genetic alterations - however this came with unplanned side effect; all men born after the initial generation given genetic perfection die at the age of 24 and all women die at the age of 20. Thus a world is created where the rich pay to have `Gatherer's' steal young women, so they can forced to marry and have children. This is where the story starts and how we end up following the so-called life of Rhine, the protagonist.

First off let me say, when I read the blurb I thought `Hey this isn't going to be too bad.' And when I read the first page, it wasn't - Boy was I wrong *sighs*. The book starts by introducing the main character Rhine, who, as I went through the book, started to really get on my nerves. My God, could she be any more of a whiny little brat? She has the mind set that she's really the only one that's in pain - so self centered; with the thinking that the so-called glass if half empty all the damn time, blah blah blah! Urg, it was so-o irritating. I mean all she hates being married to someone she doesn't love and what does she do .... string the guy along and pretend - supposedly waiting for the perfect moment to escape - yeah whatever! But most of the time she just sits back and sulks to herself - her personality is way to 2D for my liking - GOD get a backbone woman, grow some damn balls!!!! *Rages*

Then you have Linden - yes that is his name - the guy that Rhine and two other women (Cecily & Jenna) are forced to marry.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars So, so good!
I picked up this book after my old copy was unreadable due to the pages falling out from how many times I have truly read it! Read more
Published 24 days ago by Victoria Diakou
5.0 out of 5 stars ENTHRALLING & BEAUTIFUL!
I've read some really good books recently - and this is one of them!

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Read more
Published 1 month ago by FAMOUS NAME
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 1 !!!
This is a great first book, it is completely unputdownable, the story is brilliant and you really start to feel like you know the characters by the way DeStefano, describes them... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Lizzie
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, definitely a must read for dystopian lovers!
I know understand why i keep seeing this book around everywhere, it's awesome!

The story starts off explaining the strange world Rhine lives in, humans have been... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sanna Appleby
4.0 out of 5 stars a trips down imagination road review
The Chemical Garden Book 1

16 year old Rhine is a twin, living in a world where genetic engineering and tinkering has ended in women dying at the age of 20, and men at... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Laura
3.0 out of 5 stars Wither by Lauren destefano
This book was okay, it had great bits,goods bits and quite a lot of boring bits. I liked the idea of the story and the characters were quite relatable but they changed there minds... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ms Ridley
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth a read
This is an excellent book that I was recommended by a friend. Can't wait for the next two books now
Published 8 months ago by Miss VL Weightman
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Engaging
This was recommended to me by a friend, and when I read the blurb I was unsure but I found myself reading chapter after chapter to find out what happened next. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Lizzy
5.0 out of 5 stars Delieghtful read
I am not going to lie. I was very unconfident when getting this book, its dofferent from what i would usually read but it blew me out of the water!! Read more
Published 8 months ago by RedRunningFox
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating Dystopian
Great series, Ive only read the first and second and Im desperate for the third! It had me hooked all the way through, but definitely gets better as the story progresses and you... Read more
Published 8 months ago by lisababy
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