Wither by Lauren DeStefano
The Chemical Garden Trilogy (Next book, Fever, is due out February 2012)
Spoiler Alert: Only a little
Another kick-ass cover is out in the world, folks, and it belongs to this book. I mean, how can you look at it and NOT pick it up? But to be honest with you, after reading this book, I kind of wish I hadn't. Maybe just slipped off the book jacket and asked if I could buy that, instead. No margin notes in this one, either, so I'll try to recapture the emotions I had when I wrote down my notes in my notebook. Again, this is from back in August.
Here's the official summary from the series' website: "By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold a polygamous brides to bear more children.
"When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can't bring herself to hate him as much as she'd like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband's strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate with her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape—before her time runs out?"
Great concept Oh my gosh, what a great concept this book has. The potential for this story to completely ROCK is limitless (good movie, by the way, Limitless)! But alas, the author has failed to find it.
I wanted a little more emotion from the MC Rhine, (while her name was awesome), was flat and bland. Through the entire book, I felt as if her emotions weren't realistic to the situation she was in. She either didn't care enough or cared too much about the wrong thing. She obsessed over finding her twin brother, but I constantly felt like it was an afterthought slipped in by the author to remind us she had a reason to get out of her situation. As if being forced to marry a psycho and being held prisoner by a crazy father-in-law wasn't enough.
Too much back story given-even though it's "dispersed" I know that back story can be important, and I know it's best not to deliver it in dumps. But I felt like the back story delivered in this story was pointless. It didn't add anything to Rhine's story and I only found myself getting bored and skipping ahead to where the flashback ended.
Characters seem a little flat – I'm not emotionally connected—potential to have been deeper I didn't care if Rhine got out of the house, Linden wasn't as bad as she made him out to be. Even I could see that. I didn't care if she lived happily ever after with the servant boy (and yes, there is a love interest there even though the summary didn't mention it at all), and I certainly didn't care if she found her twin brother or not. Does this mean I'm a harsh person? Nah. It means the story didn't deliver what it needed to in the most essential part.
There were some parts that seemed completely out of the blue and a bit awkward Darn it. I wish I would've put down the page numbers for this one. I can't remember what I was referring to, but if you pick up the book, you'll see what I mean.
Good story idea, premise—but I feel she could have gotten a lot deeper That's pretty self-explanatory.
I felt the constant flashbacks of her brother were distracting and forced
I liked the end of the book It was well written and I think, fit the story. Leads up to the sequel, but ties up the current book without the reader feeling cheated.
I enjoyed the tension created by Vaugh The father-in-law is a creepy, perfect villain. I have a soft spot for the bad guys.
Gross/good/realistic descriptions about childbirth and location, but not on other things. All I ask for is consistency! If you're going to give me details on a 16-year-old giving birth (which, I'll be honest with you, I could have done without) and the pretty little gardens, then darn it, give me those kinds of details for the story and character arcs!
Overall, it's not a bad book. Am I going to recommend it to friends, probably lightly. Am I going to go out and buy the second installment? Probably not.