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Before I Fall
Hush, Hush
The Dark and Hollow Places
The Sky Is Everywhere
Stolen: A letter to my captor
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If I Stay
The Lightning Thief
My Sister's Keeper
The Love We Share Without Knowing
The Forest of Hands and Teeth
A Perfect Darkness

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wither (The Chemical Garden Triology Book 1)

Wither (Chemical Garden, #1)

Published by Simon & Schuster March 2011
358 pages
4 Stars

Warning! Contains a small amount of spoilers!

Excerpt from the inside jacket cover of Wither:
Mostly because I could not have made it sound any more exciting.  (-:

Thanks to modern science, every newborn has become a ticking 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, Thine 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 to test his experiments.  With the help of Gabriel, a servant she is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

This book is very hard for me to review.  I wasn't sure where to start or who to start with.  I have now figured out why.  I really was torn while reading this book for many, many different reasons.  It is written in such a way that you can't get attached to any one particular character.  I believe that Lauren DeStephano may have something going for her here if we can get used to knowing that when we pick up one of her books, that we will both love and hate all of her characters equally. 
The main idea of this story surrounds Rhine and her determination to escape her imprisonment as the bride of Governor Linden.  As we read the background story of Rhine, we understand her reasons for wanting to escape and find her brother and to go home.  We want to help her escape. The challenge is getting over the decisions that she makes while trying to escape. 

13 year old Cecily's determination to be happy in the marriage that has brought them all together as sister wives, is very plausible.  When the world you live in has you begging for food, selling your body, and keeping one eye open at night to keep from being stolen or worse, you can easily follow the reasons that Cecily has to be happy about being a bride in a wealthy household where everything is catered to you. Once you get over how old she is and accept that her young age and behavior are critical to the story line, then she becomes a bit less irritating and a bit more pity worthy.
It is also very sadly realistic to come to understand 18 year old Jenna's acceptance of their new life.  When every reason that you have to fight against becoming a bride has been taken from you, you can almost feel the lack of strength or will drain from you. Jenna's two sisters, who were amongst the girls to choose from,  have not been chosen as sister wives and have been killed because of this.  Because of their deaths and her hate for Housemaster Vaughn for causing them, Jenna is determined to help Rhine escape no matter what the cost.  She is our heroine for both taking and deflecting pain from Rhine, however, the way that she gives in in order to do it was at times a disappointment.

In the mansion that the girls are imprisoned in, Housemaster Vaughn is determined for find a cure to the virus that is killing his son Linden and the world.  His determination is hateful because of the way that he goes about things to keep his dream of finding a cure within reach.   When we think about him as a parent potentially losing a second child to the virus, his determination can also be understood and almost accepted.
Governor Linden was born into privilege and knows nothing of the world that his wives have been taken from. He doesn't understand why Jenna will not speak to him or why Rhine is not happy to be married to him.  He only knows that he loves each of them.  This is both understandable and irritating to me as a reader, because I really want to hate him for being a part of the wealthy society that hasn't had to experience the world the way that his wives have had to. With that being said, I also want to swoon over him, because who wouldn't a man who loves you unconditionally.  With everything that his wives do to keep him at bay, he is still forgiving, patient and loving. 

Gabriel, what to say about Gabriel...He is a servant who was purchased at the age of nine and also knows nothing of the world outside of the mansion.  His adoration of Rhine and his innocence make him both swoon worthy and irritating.  He is completely lovable because of his quiet defiance of  Housemaster Vaughn yet he manages to be equally irritating by being too innocent, with ideals that are just to sweet to be believable.

After I read this book, I was sure that I missed some things, so I rented it on audio book from my library and still came away with the same feeling.  I am equally torn between whether to love or hate each of her characters and because of this, I am going to have to say that is definitely a book that I would recommend to anyone but not one that I would say that was a favorite.  I am extremely excited to see what Lauren and her writing have in store for us in the future.  I am positive that she will  be an author with many great works to read.

I give Wither 4 Stars

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