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Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano (Chemical Garden #1)

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Wither by Lauren DeStefano // VBC ReviewWither (Chemical Garden #1)
Lauren
DeStefano
Published: March 22, 2011 (Simon & Schuster)
Purchase at: Book Depository or Amazon
Review Source: Purchased

Reviewed by: Chelsea

Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

There are certain books that the basic premise makes people back away. The Hunger Games was that way. People would hear “kids killing other kids on reality TV” and flee. So you’d have to open your recommendation of the book with a “stick with me now.” Wither kind of requires that, too, albeit to a lesser extent. The main character is a young woman kidnapped and bought to be one of several wives to a rich governor. It isn’t prurient, though.

Rhine lives in a world where genetic modifications rid an entire generation of disease—including cancer. That generation is practically immortal. The problem came when they had children. The girls all died at 20, the boys at 25. Less parents, more young people trying to survive.

Linden’s father is a scientist and doctor working on a cure for the problem. He wants his son to have kids and, supposedly, be happy. He wants to find a cure to keep his son alive. So, he gets him brides. He marries Rhine and two other girls on the same day. She spends her time trying to figure out how to escape and get back to her twin brother. Linden doesn’t know who she was or understand why she wouldn’t be happy in his mansion. She needs his favor to get more freedom, so she does her best to build a relationship there. Not a sexual one. He respects that, and I think that makes the big difference on the potential ick factor here.

Wither explores what we’d do for freedom and what that freedom really means. Does the ideal change the longer you’re without it? What are we willing to sacrifice in the name of progress? It’s a harrowing journey of one young woman holding on to who she in in the face of everyone—her husband, her father-in-law, her sister wives, her secret best friend—telling her it’s okay to change, to settle, to be happy with what she has.

Expect plenty of tension and a handful of “did she really did just do that?” moments. The plot was twisty and the character development top-notch. If you’re looking for a near-future sci-fi with a strong focus on the main character, pick up Wither.

Sexual content: References to sex, kissing

3 Responses to “Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano (Chemical Garden #1)”

  1. Hey, Chelsea, great review! I’ve seen Wither pop out now and then since it’s been released years ago and I always diss it cause firstly, I’ve never been much of a sci-fi fan and secondly cause I’m big on the whole monogamy thing. An unfaithful dude is a huge turn-off for me, so the fact that Linden is ok with the many wives thing put me off of Wither completely. It’s like how you described it, I guess.

    But your review is tempting me to pick it up! Damn, haha, I’ve always been intrigued by the cover and Dystopian setting. The romance seems rather lacking tho! The romance-junky in me is still holding me back some, guess I’ll check it out again next time! Glad you liked it so much!

    • I completely understand. I had Wither on my Kindle for more than a year, but now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long.

      I didn’t explore this part in the review, but there is a romance here—not with Linden. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s a light romance with a slow burn. The kisses are forbidden, if that helps. 😉 That said, the romance is absolutely secondary to the overall plot of this one.

  2. Alexa says:

    You know every time I think about this book I think that he takes her as a wife and that there are some slight sexual undertones. I’m glad to see the book had something slightly different to offer and I can’t wait to get around to reading this series.

    Thanks for the great review!

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