Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy)-Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: S&S Children's Publishing
Publication Date: March 22, 2011
Source: Around the World Tours
Of Note: 2011 Debut Author Challenge Book #1
In the not-too-distant future, because of genetic engineering, every human being is a ticking time bomb. Males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. To keep the population from dying out, girls are kidnapped and sold into polygamous marriages.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine is taken, she enters a world of wealth and privilege that both entices and terrifies her. She has everything she ever wanted-except freedom. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to escape before it's too late.
I'd been interested to read Wither ever since I first heard of the book several months ago. I have to say that overall it didn't disappoint! It's a beautifully written book, and at times made me sigh and wonder if I'll ever be able to write as well as that. I loved the sister wives, but Rhine especially. She's not content to live out the remaining years of her life pretending to love the man who has taken her away from her brother and their life together. It's her husband's Linden's tyrant-like father that's really responsible for her being there, but in her eyes Linden is guilty by association.
Rhine's spirit lifts when she gets to know Gabriel, a servant at the estate she's living at, and while their love story isn't one in the traditional sense, they feel a connection regardless. It's her feelings for Gabriel that help keep her sane. She is like a beautiful bird trapped in an ornate cage (love that imagery on the cover) that still remembers what it was like to fly free. Rhine is unwilling to settle, and I adored that about her. She had a life of luxury that she'd never known before, and a lot of people would just accept their fate and live out their lives as a prisoner in a lovely cage, but not Rhine.
I had a couple issues with Wither, the first being that I thought the ending lacked tension. It lacked the page-turning quality found earlier in the book. My second complaint is directed more at the publishing industry in general: why do all books have to part of a trilogy? Wither's ending leaves some strings dangling for the next book, but I felt the resolution was quite excellent. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'll still read the next two books, because there is a story there and I am interested in seeing how it plays out, but perhaps I'm not anticipating the next installment with the fervor I've felt for other trilogies.