Title: Wither (The Chemical Garden #1)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Source: ARC from the publisher (read after publication)
"In the not-too-distant future, because of genetic engineering, every human 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 is too late."
"I wait. They keep us in the dark for so long that we lose sense of our eyelids. We sleep huddled together like rats, staring out, and dream of our bodies swaying."
I love dystopian fiction. That's no secret. This book falls squarely in my wheelhouse of love. :) It helps that the book is really well written and a crazy-seeming concept.
This book is all about a world in which girls live to age 20 and guys to age 24. That alone is kinda mindblowing. The whole thing is that scientists from the first generation (the ones before the virus started taking lives so early) are trying to find a cure - but they are afraid the population is going to die out before they can do that. So there are many houses around the country with polygamous marriages - specifically to keep populating. The story is of a girl, Rhine, who is kidnapped to become a wife in one of these marriages.
Rhine is an amazing character. She's one that I would love to meet and talk to - her past is only hinted in pieces and you know there's so much more to it. Even if the whole book was about her previous life, I think I would have loved it. But even as it is, her story is as heartbreaking as it is hopeful. The whole situation seems so unbelievable, but I think the characters deal with it in the exact ways I would expect them to. So well done.
This is a very character driven story - despite the world that is painted around them. It's all about their stories, where they come from, and how they all work together. The whole dynamic of the "sister wives" is pretty epic. Each of them bring a different element to the marriage. And I loved their different views of the world and how things were going to turn out.
The whole story is just epic and really well done. I think anyone who is into dystopian fic will really get into this one. Hell, it's even a love story on some level - so maybe the romantics can get into that. I just think it's a wonderful story and I can't wait to put it in the hands of some of my teen readers. I do wonder that it might be more recommended for older teens because of the whole making babies bits... and having babies. It's a little graphic, but it wasn't so much that I think anyone would be offended.
Wither is Lauren DeStefano's first book - and it's the beginning of this Chemical Garden trilogy. I'm already really excited for the second one, whenever that will be. And isn't the cover gorgeous? Seriously, it's seriously wonderful. Alright, I'm done gushing. Check out the other reviews...
Other Blog Reviews:
Books Complete Me
The Royal Reviews
Confessions of a Book Addict
The Secret Life of a Bibliophile