Friday, September 16, 2011

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

Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy)
  • Title: Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy)
  • Classification: Young Adult
  • Genre: Dystopia
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers; 1 edition (March 22, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1442409053
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442409057
  • Author Website:
  • Notes: Hints and suggestions that sex has taken place are in this book, but nothing graphic is described. Just disheveled appearances and one character becoming pregnant and talk about the Kama Sutra book making the rounds.

"All we were taught of geography was that the world had once been made up of seven continents and several countries, but a third world war demolished all but North America, The continent with the most advanced technology. The damage was so catastrophic that all that remains of the rest of the world is ocean and uninhabitable islands so tiny that they can't even be seen from space."

"Seventy years ago science perfected the art of children. There were complete cures for an epidemic known as cancer, a disease that could affect any part of the body and that used to claim millions of lives. Immune system boosts given to new-generation children eradicated allergies and seasonal ailments, and even protected against sexually contracted viruses. Flawed natural children ceased to be conceived in favor of this new technology. A generation of perfectly engineered embryos assured a healthy, successful population.

No one could ever have anticipated the horrible after-math of such a sturdy generation of children. While the first generation did, and still does, thrive, something went wrong with their children, and their children's children. We, The new generations, are born healthy and strong, perhaps healthier than our parents, but our life span stops at twenty-five for males and twenty for females. For fifty years the world has been in panic as its children die. The wealthier households refuse to accept defeat. Gatherers make a living collecting potential brides  and selling them off to breed new children. The children born into these marriages are experiments. At least that's what my brother says and always with disgust in his voice."  

The human population is on the verge of extinction. The race to find a cure is slowly running out of time. The first generation of humans that were "created" to be the perfect humans will be dying soon. Most are in their seventies. The stakes are high and a cure for the illness that kills the second and beyond generations of humans has yet to be found. Many are starting to believe a cure can never be found.

Life is precious when there is so little of it. Rhine had taken precautions to keep from being captured by the Gatherers. She and her brother, Rowan, lived a simple life and took comfort in each others company. They were family and relied on each other since the fateful day their parents died. They were twins and as close as two siblings could be. That all changed the day she was taken. She knew to look out for the vans that pluck girls off the street, but that was not how she was captured. What happened to her she never saw coming. Now she must wait and find out what is to be her fate.  

This is a dark dystopian novel that I absolutely adored. The story starts with Rhine being transported in a van awaiting to find out her fate. Slowly you get sucked in and learn the facts of Rhine's new and old lives. Polygamy is back in style and girls are being snatched in an attempt to breed more children for both research and the survival of the race. But if you only had a limited amount of time on this earth would you want to have a child? One you might never see loose his first teeth or read her first book? One you may never see grow up or have a hand in raising?

I love how Rhine is both smart and strong. She's a beautiful person inside and out and people tend to respond to her. She doesn't give up hope of getting back to her brother and cautiously infiltrates the household. If she can gain the favor of her husband as first wife, she will be given privileges that might let her escape.

I loved how each of the "wives" are so different from the others but bond over time. I found the dynamics of the household a bit shocking at times, yet interesting. My opinions of Linden kept changing throughout the book as we found out more about him. He's the "husband". Plus Vaughn, the father-in-law, is rumored to do experiments in the basement. She has to tread lightly to not get on his bad side.

I felt we were a bit confined in this book because we didn't get much of a glimpse of the world outside of the house. I can't help but wonder if this was a brilliant move on DeStefano's part so we could relate to the Rhine's feelings of being trapped. You want to know what's out there, but can't. I look forward to the next book and hope we find out a bit more of what state the US is in. I also hope Rowan will be in the next book. I'd like to find out more about him. Plus, I'd like to learn more about what happened to destroy the world and how the first generation came to exist. Were they cloned or genetically altered like is done to many plants to make they disease resistant? Was DNA tampered with like in 'Jurassic Park' where amphibian DNA was added to dinosaur's which had a completely unexpected side affect? As this is the first book in the series, there are so many possibilities, and I hope some of my questions will be addressed in later books. I can't wait to find out. I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses.

 Book Trailer:
Interview with Lauren DeStefano:

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