Monday, 11 April 2011

Book Review: Wither (Chemical Garden #1)

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic 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, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

I was browsing around the YA section of Chapters last week with my boyfriend when my eye happen to catch Wither by Lauren DeStefano prominently displayed on one of the bookshelves. Wither is a book that I have been drooling over online for weeks now, and seeing it in the flesh caused me to break down and immediately hand over my credit card to the cashier. For those of you who don't know me this is a BIG deal! I usually never spend money on books unless they are from the used bookstores (due to my pathetic student budget), and for the most part I get the majority of my reading material from the library. Usually on my trips to Chapters it's my boyfriend who ends up dropping tons of cash on books rather than me!

As soon as I got home I devoured Wither in under three days! The plot is what excited me the most  about this novel. In a way, it could be considered as a re-imagining of Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale, as they both deal with a society in the future whose population is threatened due to some form of genetic mutation. I loved the dystopian focus, and the fact that a lot of the content of the novel was something which I could actually picture as a possibility for the future.

Not only is the plot of Wither intriguing, but the cover of this novel is gorgeous! I hate to say it, but I do indeed suffer from "Judge a book by its cover" syndrome. I really hope that the books which follow in this series produce covers which compliment this first one!

While I fell in love with the plot and cover of DeStefano's novel, Wither is not without its downsides as well. One of the aspects of this book that bugged me by the end was the development of a couple of the characters. While I found characters such as Rhine, Linden, and Cecily to be developed really well, I found other characters like Vaughn to be lacking. *Spoiler Alert* Gabriel was especially disappointing, since it's quite obvious that he is being set up to be Rhine's love interest throughout the rest of the series. I found his character to be flat and static, and with hardly any personality at all. I'm hoping that this will change as the series progresses, for at the moment I actually find myself hoping that Rhine will somehow end up falling in love with Linden despite her mixed feelings of resentment for him. I found myself sympathizing with Linden's character more and more as the novel went on and DeStefano gave us greater insight into the back story of his life.

Overall I enjoyed Wither, and I am looking forward to the release of the next book in its series to see what happens next. While I really enjoyed the general plot, I find myself still hung up on the lack of character development for Gabriel. I'm going to give this book a 4 though, with hopes that the next book in the series will give us a little more insight into his personality and character.

Rating: 4 Stars
Recommend it for: Fans of Dystopian novels, The Handmaid's Tale, and Sister Wives


Honey said...

I'm really hoping that we get to learn more about Gabriel as well. He's not around as much as I would have liked in Wither but I'm sure that's going to change in the sequel! Great review :)

Mia said...

Fantastic review!I can't believe you finished that book in 3 days,I am not really that fast in reading.I really like your blog.Good Job.New follower here.

Natalie said...

Haha thanks! Sometimes I wish I didn't read so fast, especially when its a really good book so that I can make it last longer!

Sarah Darlington said...

I just recently got this one! It's on my to-read list. :)

Luxembourg said...

My favorite thing about this book is how beautiful it was- the lovely imagery, the soft language and tragic pictures of the other wives, contrasted with Rhine's anger. This beauty is bittersweet because of both the pain surrounding it and its false nature- most of it is human-controlled, hence the series name "The Chemical Garden." I'm excited for Fever and the adventure it promises.

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