Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wither (The Chemical Garden #1)

Wither (Chemical Garden #1)
By:  Lauren DeStefano
ISBN:  9781442409057
Published March 22, 2011 by Simon & Schuster
Available format:  Hardback, ebook

My Rating:  ★★★★★

When science began controlling the exact heredities of all of nature’s proliferation, a horrific side-effect was soon discovered.  Because of a mysterious genetic virus, children no longer lived to old age.  Females perished at age twenty and males only outlived them by five years.  Young girls began to be kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to insure that the population carried on while the “first-generation” doctors and geneticists worked to develop some sort of remedy for the apocalyptic virus. 

Sixteen-year-old Rhine is one of those kidnapped girls.  Ripped from her orphaned life in Manhattan, Rhine is deposited into a life of wealth and privilege with her new husband, Linden.  She develops a true bond with Linden as well as love and companionship with her sister-wives, but there is nothing she longs for more than to escape and be reunited with her twin brother, Rowan. 

It soon becomes evident to her that everyone in the household is held captive by her first-generation father-in-law, Housemaster Vaughn, including his own son.  Bent on discovering an antidote and saving his lineage, Vaughn will stop at nothing to carry out his experiments.  Rhine must find a way to escape before she, too, becomes part of his research.

Lauren DeStefano knows how to write.  Her down-to-earth young adult style is perfectly interwoven with the beautiful and poetic as seamlessly as the romantic and suspenseful.  The world she creates is so amazing, yet so tragic, it left me breathless.  She deals with somber and mature themes with perfect balance and grace.  Wither is an absorbing page-turner that manages to entertain while encouraging deep thought on subjects such as genetic engineering and polygamy.

All throughout the book, I could not help but be overwhelmed with a sense of tragic sadness.  I mourned for the world that these characters live in—a world that had been destroyed by greed and science.  I could not imagine a lifespan only reaching young adulthood.  They are still children, yet they have to face all the difficulties of a hundred year life.  They are forced to grow up far too soon, to carry the burdens of losing their friends and loved ones, to shoulder the responsibility of creating new life to give the tiniest shred of hope for the future.   

Rhine is a faultless heroine—feminine, elegant, clever, spirited, strong, and determined.  I loved the way she was juxtaposed with her two sister-wives and even her new husband.  It is really the complexities of all the characters combined that make this book what it is, compelling and emotional.  Rhine seems to be what holds everything together, so it will be interesting to find out what happens if she successfully escapes. 

There’s only one bad thing about reading a book shortly after it is published.  I have to actually WAIT for the other installments of the series to be released!!!  Still, I encourage you to grab a copy of Wither and join me in the wait!