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Friday, July 6, 2012

Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy #1) by Lauren DeStefano

My constant hunger for girly dystopian fiction was satisfied by Wither. It's both eerie and sophisticated. But was there substance and a decent plot under the pretty book jackets? I'm not quite sure.

SUMMARY: Sixteen year old Rhine is growing up in a dangerous and dying world, where females only live to the age of 20 and males live to the age of 25. When she's kidnapped along with many other girls, Rhine wonders what the future holds. Is she to be sold into slavery or prostitution? Instead, she ends up as a young bride for an incredibly wealthy man, Linden Ashby. She shares him with 2 other sister wives, Cecily and Jenna. Linden's enormous and elaborate mansion has everything anyone could ever want, except freedom, and Rhine is pampered there but trapped. It is there that she meets Gabriel, a servant boy who dreams of escape as well, a boy who Rhine is growing more and more attracted to. As time passes, Rhine begins to wonder if escape is worth it, because the world outside the safe mansion is scary and full of disease. But it is the only way she'll ever see her twin brother Rowan again. She could stay at the mansion with Linden, who genuinely loves her. But his father, Vaughn, is a scientist determined to find a cure for the disease that's killing the younger generations. And to do that, he'll need bodies, and is out to get them. Rhine will have to decide fast if she should stay or attempt escape, because her short lifespan is running out

Okay, so if you were one of those people whose favorite part of the Hunger Games was reading about life in the Capitol, and all their gadgets and food and fashion, you'll love this book. Rhine is swept up into a world of endless servants, fabulous clothes and parties. I loved DeStefano's descriptions and detailing of life in the mansion.

"Was there romance?" you ask. Of course there was, it's young adult fiction, so it had a love triangle and all! How original...not. But it was okay with me because it wasn't flaunted. Linden really loved Rhine, and underneath it all he was a really nice guy. I liked Gabriel too. Cecily, another one of Linden's wives, is a thirteen year old who was way too eager to be a wive and have kids. She was disturbing but entertaining, more so than reserved Jenna. And then there's Rhine, who flip-flopped back and forth personality-wise, I had a hard time figuring her out.

But underneath its layers of fluff, this book had it's issues. The world-building was weak and undeveloped. Every country but the United States was destroyed in a third World War? I'm so sure. Not enough was explained, and it wasn't very believable. And the plot? At points I didn't think there was one at all. There was, but it was stretched so thin, the story dragged on near the end. The disease was a sketchy area as well, but I liked the messages it conjured up about how one should treat life.

I hope that the second book explains more and builds on the world DeStefano created. Luckily it's on my desk right now, just waiting to be cracked open. Hopefully book 2, Fever will go deeper.

THE BOTTOM LINE: It was like a dry, flavorless cake with a layer of beautiful frosting. Wither kept me interested and entertained, but I wanted more explained. 3/5 stars

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