Saturday, February 11, 2012

Book Review : Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy #1 )

“You've been captive for so long that you don't even realize you want freedom anymore.” 
  - Lauren DeStefano, Wither

Synopsis  Genetic mutations have festered, reducing human longevity to twenty-five, even less for most women. To prevent extinction, young girls are kidnapped, mated in polygamous marriages with [Rich] men eager to procreate. Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery, a recent victim of this breeding farm mentality, has vowed to break loose from its fetters

Wither is the taboo, energized and tumultuous story of three girls kidnapped and forced into marriage to the young Governor Linden. 

The novel reads like a brand of feminist speculative fiction. Girls under the age of 20, are kidnapped and forced into marraige by rich families so they can bear children that rich people will use in hopes of finding a cure for a fatal disease that claims those under 25.

When Rhine Ellery becomes one of these unwilling brides she refuses to live her short life imprisoned and is determined to find a way out.

Reading this novel was like watching a particularly squicky episode of Law and Order SVU or Criminal Minds. It’s so unrealistically disturbing on the surface, but you just can’t look away.

While Rhine is determined to escape her new role as wife and find her way back home, Stockholm Syndrome and the bond she shares with her fellow captives causes her to question her every move. DeStefano crafts Rhine’s world inside the mansion and relationships with her fellow captives with such mystery and desperation that I couldn't stop reading.

I feel like this novel will be an easy one for people to dislike because of how morally bankrupt many of the characters appear. No one in this novel is even close to perfect and it's difficult to agree with any of the choices the characters make

On the flips side I had a hard time believing the society created in Wither.  I just don't think the novel  gives a good case for why a society would allow rich people to capture these girls, I mean no one even considers it a crime nor is there any "resistance force." And why do they have to go through the pomp and circumstance of marriage if all they want them to do is procreate? Can't they just steal their eggs?

 I have a feeling a lot of my questions about this novel will be answered in the sequel, Fever, however, I also think this could also pass as a stand-alone novel. I'm concerned about how this can be shaped across 3 books.

This novel features complex characters, a twisted romance and dark tendencies which is enough to make it enjoyable, but it lacks the world building needed to make the plot believable. I give it four stars in hopes my world building questions will be answered in Fever.



  1. I have this book but I haven't read it yet. I'm much like you in wanting answers. But I guess that's sometimes the good thing about a series, if the first doesn't provide the answers, then perhaps the next installment will. The concept sounds interesting enough, so hopefully the author will develop and divulge more in the next book. Hope it's a better read for you than the first.

    1. If you have it I think you should give it a try, I'd like to see your thoughts !

  2. Squicky -- LOL. But I see your point. I read a summary of this book, got the squicky feeling and decided I'd take a pass. Then I grabbed a bunch of ARCs to take to the beach with me and this was one of them. So I decided to give it a go. There's something compelling about it that's hard to describe.
    Looking forward to Fever!

  3. This is one of those series that hasn't reached out and grabbed me, but that keeps popping up on my radar and making me curious. I usually require most reads to have either a) good world building or b) good characters. The idea that this series might be weak on both points makes me continually hesitant to read. Interested to hear if people think Fever resolves some of these issues though!

    1. I have really high hopes for Fever but the book still had an interesting concept !

  4. Lovely review! I agree with the believability. If there was more world building to explain this I would have liked this much more. I still enjoyed it but not up to par with other dysopians for sure. And great call on Stockholm Syndrome! It was really well written in that sense!

  5. Nice review! I agree with you on a lot of points! I'm looking forward to the next book.



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