Wither (The Chemical Garden, Book 1) Paperback – 16 Feb 2012
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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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I was immediately gripped by the story. It felt mysterious and very dark. I wasn't sure how far in the future Wither was set, but I got the impression that it was quite some years in the future. In the world that Lauren DeStefano has created for this series, people die younger, so in order to live a `full' life and they have to start everything earlier. This was fascinating. I really liked the atmosphere that was built in this book, it was almost gothic.
This books deals with several issues such as polygamy, sex, death and child bearing. I haven't really read much about polygamy, but I think it's a brave subject to explore in a Young Adult book. It's nice to see that the genre deals with many different issues.
I think the characters come across as very strong. The wives are interesting and memorable in their own ways. I was expecting to leave Wither on a cliffhanger, set up for the next in the series, but it ends quite hopeful for our main character Rhine. I'm sure it's not going to be plain sailing for her though, so I look forward to checking out Fever to see what happens next!
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.
What intrigued me: The blurb makes it sounds like a solid dystopian novel. I may have also seen this around quite a lot and was curious.
What initially drew me in about WITHER is the premise. It sure sounds like a dystopian novel, but with more world building and less emphasis on rebellion. However, while this still holds true after reading the novel, this is exactly where it went wrong for me. There is honestly no world building in this book. Nothing is explained, there are no reasons for anything.
I was insanely disappointed that you don't learn anything about the world as you go along, because there is nothing to learn. Essentially, this read is just about the polygamous relationships Rhine's husband Linden has, of course with a side of intrigues.
I'll forget this book soon
I felt claustrophobic reading this, because the action mainly takes place in two or three different places total, while most of it is just in the house. DeStefano tries to hide this by adding ridiculously long descriptions of everything, from the looks of the rooms, to every single time Rhine gets dressed to look pretty for her husband. This unnecessarily ruins the pacing and makes the first 50 pages a nightmare to read. I wouldn't have minded all those descriptions if the beginning of this didn't only consist of them. Because WITHER lacks so much world building, it really relies on the reader liking the character dynamics, which I just didn't.
We have every cliché ever in this, a love triangle that doesn't make sense and feels forced and instant-love-y. I would have liked this more if it only had one love interest, because I found Linden quite sympathetic. The writing itself is really good which is just more reason for why I'm so frustrated with this. The idea is okay, the characters are alright, the writing is amazing - how did this book end up to be so forgettable and ... average? Very disappointing.
Overall: Do I Recommend?
WITHER has potential to be a wonderful quick stand-alone, but I cannot imagine to read three books set in this world. I wouldn't recommend it, because it bored and disappointed me.
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