Wither (The Chemical Garden #1)

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More romance than I expected
Overall rating
 
3.3
Plot
 
3.0
Characters
 
3.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
I picked Wither for my YA book club pick in September. Since I'm off on summer break, I thought I would get a head start on the reading before going back to work in a few weeks. I have heard many positive things about this series, but I really had no idea what to expect.


As the story begins, we know that the world as we know it has changed. A massive nuclear war has left all continents except North America decimated. Genetic modifications in the 21st century have caused horrific consequences for future generations. Now, girls die at the age of 20 and boys at 25. There is no antidote. In a desperate attempt to preserve life, some "Gatherers" have started collecting girls of child bearing age to auction off to the highest bidder. The lucky ones get married off to a wealthy benefactor. The not-so-lucky ones meet a much darker fate.


Enter Rhine, Jenna, and Cecily. They are each plucked from their daily lives at different ages to be married off to the rich Linden Ashby. His father, Housemaster Vaughn, is an evil snake set on discovering an antidote at any costs. These characters were interesting, but lacking in some areas. For instance, Jenna disappointed me. She spoke of hating Linden and Housemaster Vaughn for what they have done (and continue to do), but yet she hops between the sheets with Linden at any chance she gets. In one scene, it's pretty obvious she doesn't mind it either. Cecily is annoying. She's all about growing up too quickly and being a big shot, but she comes across as a whiny brat. I really couldn't handle her role in everything. Worst of all though, was Linden. He is his father's puppet and goes along with his ridiculous role in life without questioning anything. He (very) willingly marries three girls soon after his first wife's death. He has no problems with fulfilling the role of husband with girls as young as 13. That's so disgusting, considering he's 20! I just couldn't get over that.


I really hoped Rhine would be better, but she was only so-so. I liked that she kept to her original plans, but... It seems she had feelings for both Gabriel and Linden, but she never did much to interact with Gabriel. She always doubted herself and her feelings. For this type of book, there really needed to be a stronger female lead. I felt like a third row passenger while reading this book. I was not actively involved in the story, but there was just enough to keep me from zoning out completely.


I was impressed, however, with the writing. This was a debut book from a young writer that has obvious talent. I am exited to see how her writing develops and improves as this story continues to grow.



Do I think this is one of the greatest dystopians I've ever read? Not really. But I am glad I picked it for the September book club because I think the younger girls will enjoy it.
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Interesting Storyline, but a bit boring after the beginning.
Overall rating
 
3.3
Plot
 
3.0
Characters
 
3.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
The plot was exceptional and it had some strong points. The thing that got to me the most was how boring it got after about page 30. I was really excited to see how this book would turn out and at the beginning I thought, " Wow, this is going to be an AWESOME book!". But, I am sad to say I was kinda disappointed in the author of the book. Instead of a exciting, adventurous novel with swooning love, it was a boring, sucky, book overall. I did like some parts of the story but that was only a little bit of the book. The concept of the book is weird( I mean little girls the same age as me wanting to have babies!) and to say the least, creepy. The romance in it I didn't feel at all. She only liked Linden because when compared to his father he seemed nice. When, in reality he is just a shy, awkward boy who doesn't know what the real world is like. I sorta liked Gabriel but in the end he wanted her to stay in the mansion. I would have never wanted her to stay in that creepy place! I don't know exactly how to rate this book so I just gave it a 3 star. I would maybe recommend this book to people who like creepy books with a sliver of a story line. I will probably read the second book just to see what happens to her and Gabriel.
Good Points
It had an interesting plot.
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A creative and original world, although a bit too slow for me
Overall rating
 
3.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
3.0
Writing Style
 
3.0
Let me start off by saying this is truly one of the most amazing covers I have ever seen. The second book is just as awesome, too. It’s definitely what attracted me to the book and after reading the premise, I was quite intrigued.

I really liked how unique and creative Lauren was about this world. Life lasts only until you’re 25, 20 for females, with girls being bought and sold to men like play toys?! Wow! Right from the start Lauren paints a dark and twisted picture where poor Rhine has to adapt to her new life and try her best to escape it. The characters are what really draws you in since most of the book is either Rhine monologuing, which was a bit too much for me, or her interactions with the other characters. Linden is very sweet, and clearly a good guy in a terrible situation. His father, the Housemater, however, is quite horrific and a true villain if I ever saw one!

There wasn’t a lot of action in this book and like I said, a bit too much inner monologuing, but the series itself does have potential. While it’s true that Wither was kind of slow and dragged out for me, I’m curious to see Rhine’s future and how this all plays out. I’ll be looking forward to reading Fever.
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Not a big fan
(Updated: June 23, 2012)
Overall rating
 
3.0
Plot
 
3.0
Characters
 
3.0
Writing Style
 
3.0
Previously published on my blog: http://fictionfervor.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/review-wither-by-lauren-destefano/

First, I’d like to say this: scroll back up. Look at the cover of this book. Admire it. Isn’t it gorgeous? And I especially liked how the design of the book (with all the words in the boxes) was used in the dedication, title page, etc. It created the perfect feel to the book.

Now to talking about the actual book! I loved the idea of this book. A world where people die at 20 and 25. Where people kidnap young girls like Rhine to have brides. Where people would either do anything to find a cure or would be willing to die before the end came.

But as alluring as that sounds, I was not the happiest camper when I finished the book. I mean, Lauren DeStefano’s writing is beautiful. It creates a mystical effect that lets me just float with the book.

But the plot ruined this effect. One thing I remember is that when my sister finished reading Wither, she said something about the book not having any real action. And I wholeheartedly agree with her. Where’s that action-packed kick-butt feeling? I live on that feeling. But I didn’t get that feeling; all I got was frustration as Rhine put her everything into escaping from Linden’s mansion, which does sound interesting, but not in this case.

And Rhine. Rhine frustrated me. She was always concerned about escaping, escaping, escaping. I know it’s good to keep your goal in mind, but it almost made her seem like a flat character with no other characteristics. Sure, something stirred inside of her whenever she thought of Gabriel or when she protected her sister wives. But there was just a key element missing.

I didn’t really enjoy the romance in this book. Another thing my sister had commented on was this: “I still don’t understand why Rhine is attracted to Gabriel.” I don’t either. I think I understand why Gabriel likes her, but Gabriel doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy that girls swoon over. He just seemed like the rock she needed in all her misery and madness.

Wither didn’t make me satisfied; in fact, it made me more frustrated with Rhine as a character, her romance with Gabriel, and the seemingly empty plot. Add in that terrible cliffhanger, and I’m not sure if I was that big of a fan of this novel.

Source: copy read online at Pulse It
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Wither
Overall rating
 
3.0
Plot
 
2.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
3.0
“I was so hesitant to start reading this book. I was extremely uncomfortable with the premise and wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the book because of it. One thing I did know is that I wasn't going to buy it(despite the gorgeous cover that I absolutely love!), so I decided I'd handle whether I'd read it or not if my library got it. But it came up on PulseIt I was once again faced with the choice of whether or not I wanted to read it. Finally, after reading many reviews I decided to take a chance.

What I found was, the polygamous marriage was not as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. Now, that's not saying that it wasn't uncomfortable or that I agree with such marriage. But, I was able to enjoy the story despite it. For one thing, the author wasn't pushing it, that it was right and wonderful, she also wasn't exactly condemning it either. It was more like she was using it as a plot devise for the world which she had created. As I read, I realized I had read many stories with polygamous marriages, and that this wasn't anything "new". Jacob and Rachel and Leah, Solomon and his many wives, in fact many stories in the Bible deal with polygamy(the only difference is that the Bible says it is wrong, more that it happened and showing the consequences of it) it was even some fairy tales I had read as a child. I guess I said all that to say, I didn't exactly like it, but it didn't turn me off the book.

What I did dislike was the slow pace. The writing was beautiful and the characters were extremely well developed and their personalities well thought out. But it seemed that for the majority of the book nothing happened. Now, in a way that was a good thing. It gave time for the characters to develop so well, but there were times while I was reading it, and I started counting the number of pages I had left, the number of chapters I had left, wondering when she would finally run away! (*spoiler* which didn't happen until the last two or three chapters *end spoiler*) While there were a couple "exciting" parts throughout that kept me reading, for the most part the plot didn't advance at all.

As far as world building goes, I know a lot of people thought it was badly developed and that the world wasn't believable at all and that was the worst part of the book. I personally didn't think the world building was so bad.(as long as I don't think about it too much) Now granted, it wasn't all that wonderful either. There are some books that the world that was created is the best part of the book, other books, like this one, the characters that live in it are more important, so the world is a background character. Of course, we all know the best books are those with great worlds and great characters, but ones with underdeveloped, unexplained worlds are definitely not the worst. So I guess, I wish she had spent more time developing the world, but on the whole it didn't bother me.

The characters really stood out for me. They were all written like real people, with their own flaws and qualities that made them unique and interesting. I found myself sad when Rose died, when I had barely known her for a few chapters! *spoiler* And when Jenna died I was devastated not only because she was a great character, but because of how well her dying had been written and how Rhine and Cecily reacted. *end spoiler* Gabriel, Rowan, and Linden were also all interesting male characters. I absolutely loved how Linden was written not the normal way a male lead is written, he wasn't buff and strong and extremely handsome, and he had many flaws and was not the leader he should be. I also really liked how their romance progressed that when Rhine realized she was falling in love with him she didn't just give up, she kept fighting it, because she wanted to be free. She understood that if she fell in love with him in this marriage that it would ultimately be a lie, because she hadn't the choice to go into it. And Gabriel! :D I love him! That's all I can say. Same with Rowan, I've always wished I had an older brother(why oh why did I have to get stuck with a younger one?) and he seems like such a great older brother(I know he's her twin, but I bet you he's the older one! lol) and I feel so bad for him that Rhine was taken from him.

Lastly, one thing I noticed and loved(thanks to a certain Lit. teacher who will not be named) was the extreme case of Plato's Cave! Rhine's obviously been outside and once she is put into the cave(aka the mansion) she hates it and wants to escape, but others don't understand why because they have fallen into the shadows. Many are just too oblivious to even realize they are in the cave. Others don't understand how the outside world is better. I mean, they have holograms(shadows anyone?) of the outside world that they can enjoy, what makes the world outside the cave better? *spoiler* When Rhine and Gabriel finally escape and they go to the ocean to get a boat to sail up the coast back to Rowan, Gabriel sees the real ocean and comments that he had forgotten what the ocean was like, it was much more than he remembered. I was thrilled that he had exited the cave and realized what he had been missing before, it was one of my favorite parts of the book! *end spoiler* So that just really stood out to me a lot in the book, so yeah I thought I'd mention it.
Good Points
Interesting characters
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