Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: Wither (The Chemical Garden #1)

Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Page Count: 358
Chapter Count: 27
Named Chapters: No
Format: Paperback

In the not-too-distant future, genetic engineering has turned every newborn into a ticking time bomb: Males die at twenty-five, and females die at age twenty. While scientists seek a miracle antidote, young girls are routinely kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. 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. 

Soon it becomes clear that not everyone at her new husband's home is how they appear. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to escape... before her time runs out.

Opening Sentence: I wait.  

He weaves his fingers through mine, and I allow it, feel the clammy warmth of his palm against mine. Flush. Alive. Eventually I realize that I am holding on to him just as tightly as he holds on to me. And here we are: two small dying things, as the world ends around us like falling autumn leaves.

I was so excited to read 'Wither' by Lauren DeStanfo. A world in which females die at 20 and males at 25 and there is no future for the human race insight. WHAT?!?! Sign me up for this. I love a good dystopian and they usually make me really think about humanity and my own personal self and I love a book that can do that. Make me stop and think about the world I live in. Unfortunately, 'Wither' just wasn't meant to be that kind of book for me.

It has a great premise to it and could easily be an amazing and mind boggling book to read. However, the way that it was executed just did not work for me. 

We start with Rhine (the 16 year-old heroine) getting captured and sold into a polygamous marriage with two other girls, one older (18) and one younger (13). They are brought to a mansion and pampered and prettied up for their forth coming marriage to the son of the mansion's owner, Linden. But not before our heroine is introduced to her silent but cute servant boy, Gabriel.

I can already see where this is going.

Thusly, all three girls are married off to Linden and they live a short happily ever after...... or so you would believe. But NO! I mean come on, polygamy is not that simple. Especially not when you have 3 young girls living on the same level together. Yea, you heard me right, they are living together on the same floor of the mansion. Along with Linden's first wife (but don't worry, she is already dying of the disease cause she's reached that ripe old age of 20).

   Ms. DeStefano you didn't even have the decency to let the first wife
die in peace before bringing in her replacements?

But then again. If we wouldn't of seen the first wife's slow torturous death, we wouldn't of been able to appreciate how much Linden loved her. Or misses her. But then you know, for how much he loved his wife, only a month goes by before he's over it and able to finally consummate his marriage(s). And who do you think he chooses to do it with first?

Maybe it's the 18 year old. You know she only has 2 years left of life. Might want to get on that one, because if you want to have a kid with her (which is the whole point of these polygamous marriages, to make sure there are plenty of kids so that the human race doesn't die out) you will need to get on that one pretty fast. Oh, but no. Come on we all know the 18 year old hates Linden to death, even though eventually she will come to find this life peaceful and sleep with him because, after all it's not a bad life here.

Or maybe, it's our heroine Rhine. After all she did get really close with your first wife before she died and our Rhine here does remind Linden oh so much of his first one that he is instantly attached to her, even though throughout this entire book they hardly ever have a serious talk about themselves at all. And it was already predicted by the first wife before she died that Rhine would be her replacement and would be Linden's ultimate favorite. But no no no. We all know the heroine (and eventual first wife) of the series is not supposed to actually have sex with her husband and risk getting pregnant. She is supposed to fight tooth and nail and try and get away back to her brother and home.

Ding, ding, ding. That leaves us with a winner. Linden will sleep with the 13 year-old first, because I mean, why waste childhood? Let's get on that one and make sure she has plenty of kids in this 4 year marriage of hers before Linden reaches 25 and dies. I mean come on, we know our heroine can't be with her husband, but it's perfectly okay to write about a 13 year old getting freaky with her 21 year old husband. And then like a month later when she's not feeling good, be happy when it's found out THAT THE 13 YEAR OLD IS PREGNANT!!! 

It was at this point that I saw this book going down hill. Not that I wasn't already on the fence. I mean, Rhine was falling in love with her servant boy (Gabriel) and they kissed which was found out by Linden's father, and instead of any punishment to the servant or wife, he was just sent to another level of the mansion to work that was believed Rhine would never be able to get to. Be throughout this book, we had to deal with a childish, snotty, pregnant 13 year old wife, who was jealous of her sister wives. And see Linden start favoring Rhine (who was secretly pining away for Gabriel) and do anything she asked him to do. The whole time that he was sleeping with his other wives. BUT NEVER ONCE SLEPT WITH RHINE!

Oh come on..... REALLY?
I will be the first person to admit that sex is not everything. It's not. And in a lot of YA books, its completely not necessary or even needed. But we are talking about a YA were the heroine is MARRIED. Married, ladies and gentlemen. And she has become her husband's favorite wife. He would do anything for her. But do you honestly expect me to believe that Linden (no matter how gentle or loving he is) is just going to not sleep with someone who he loves or is supposed to be his favorite. And he will be completely okay with his wife, when she keeps telling him no you can't touch me. I don't care if he has 2 other wives and has already impregnated the 13 year old. We are talking about a polygamous marriage here, that was started to get the girls pregnant to preserve the human race, but one of the girls is going to remain a virgin because (she loves someone else) she is trying to get back to her brother. *sigh*, I just couldn't take it any more. I will admit at this point, after she reached first wife status, with just barely having kissed her HUSBAND twice and the other 2 being good wives to him, I started to skim.
I skimmed hard on this book at this point to. I just wanted to get to the end and have it over with. Because I couldn't take any more. It was just so silly and pointless.
And then the actual escape happens. After Rhine is able to find Gabriel and set up a escape plan with him, because you know she can't take off without her love, even though at this point, Gabriel hasn't been in the book for like 150 pages or so. Of course she still loves someone she barely had any interaction with for months on end. And what do they do to escape. Rhine sneaks out at night, goes outside (with the magic key card to the elevator that she was given with first wife status), meets up with Gabriel at the hedges that are just a holograph, walks to the gate (and with a little help), get out and they are free.
 Your Shi**** me right?
Seriously? After Rhine has been looking for a way out for like 10+ months of this forced marriage and unhappiness. Your telling me all she had to do was act nice, get a key card and sneak out at night? It was as easy as that. After fearing for her life and not wanting to be dissected by her father in law after she dies. All she had to do was sneak out at night? 
Oh my gosh. I'm done. I can't do it no more and I can't force myself to read any more of this. What started off as a great premise, could of been an amazing book. But just wasn't. And while I will of course be reading 'Fever' when it comes out in paperback, I won't be rushing out to get it. I need a break from this world before I can conceivability head back into it.  


Lee @ Rally the Readers said...

Great review! I pretty much felt the same way about Wither. It didn't work for me, either, and I spent a lot of time rolling my eyes while reading it. So of course I'll be reading the sequel at some point, lol.

Cassie S. said...

@Lee: It just really didn't. Like I said it was a great concept, but the over all execution just didn't work for me. It just needed more that it didn't give. =[