Friday, November 15, 2013

What Would You Do If You Knew When You Would Die?

"I have always been fascinated by the ocean, 
to dip a limb beneath its surface and know that I'm touching eternity, 
that it goes on forever until it begins here again."
--Lauren DeStefano, Wither

Genre: YA Dystopia
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 358 pages
Publication Date: March 22nd, 2011
Source: Bought

Goodreads Description

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 as 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 to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

My Thoughts

I have had Wither sitting on my shelf FOREVER and I wanted to binge read a series before leaving on my trip and Asheley over at Into the Hall of Books SWEARS by this series. It is one of her favorites and I trust her judgement so The Chemical Garden, here I come! Sidenote: I love that name for the trilogy. It just sounds so cool and abstract. Speaking of abstract, these covers—to die for! I LOVE these! Broken and damaged yet eerily beautiful…

…in fact, that is how I would describe this first book. Dark yet beautiful with characters that are just that. Rhine was kidnapped and chosen to be one of three wives to Linden. His father runs the mansion they live in and this guy is a mad scientist trying to find the cure to a virus that kills all girls at 20 and all men at 25. Crazy! This Vaughn guy is scary as hell and you never know what his diabolical endgame is.

I really liked Rhine. I found her very average and normal, and that’s not a bad thing! I felt like she had a very normal reaction to everything that was happening. She faked what she had to in order to survive and get ahead but she stayed true to herself and never fooled herself into forgetting where she was. Jenna, another sister wife, was fantastic to me. Her story broke my freakin’ heart and I loved her. Cecily…Cecily creeped me the F out. She is 13, obsessed with sex and making babies, she creeps around spying on everyone, and she throws tantrums like the child that she is. I don’t know. Her story that is played out didn’t sit well with me. I never really warmed to her and she just weirded me out. Sorry not sorry.

Linden was very bland for me. While he has some nice moments and does have very real feelings for Rhine, I just never felt any warmth towards him. I wasn’t swooning for him and I was never rooting for Rhine to be with him. Gabriel is a servant that Rhine develops a friendship *wink wink* with and while I like him, I’m not swooning yet. I want to. I really, really want to so I’m hoping he has some fantastic moments coming up in Fever because I want to swoon for him.

This entire book was completely…unsettling. It took me forever to wrap my head around this polygamy and by the end I still wasn’t gelling with it. It was just so bizarre! I mean, it’s not that I didn’t like it, it was just so weird to me. And I found myself feeling exactly as Rhine did about the whole thing. While I really have no love for Linden and wasn’t rooting or swooning for him at all, when he was showing affection towards the other wives I, like Rhine, did feel a weird sort of jealousy. He obviously needs to spend time with all of them but it still made me mad when he did! Weird, right?!

I thoroughly enjoyed the take on the pros and cons scientific development. While cancer is eradicated in this future world it has brought on a virus that kills all people so young it’s barely a life. Everyone has their own opinion about this but I loved that this dystopian world was build on the possible negative side effects of genetic shopping, if you will. There are probably technologies being researched as I type that will eliminate certain undesirable characters in future newborns and while preventing genetic defects and childhood diseases are fantastic, how far is too far? Where do we draw the line between taking what was used to prevent deformities and eventually turning into creating your perfect baby? There are cons to all scientific advancements but this is an area I think needs to be thoroughly looked at and I loved what DeStefano did with this topic.

I liked the pacing of the book overall. The ending felt a little anti-climactic but I’ll take that sometimes over my chest hurting with anxiety.

Should You Read This? If you love dystopia this messed-up and terrifying future we could all face will have you turning the pages. The polygamy might throw you for a loop but it’s just part of this crazy world. 


  1. Disturbing is the perfect word for it!! I enjoyed the read, but like you was thrown off by some things! Cecily... yeah... wtf?? Also, I felt the same way about Gabriel--- I wasn't swooooning like crazy over him, but considering the alternative was Linden, I was def Team Gabriel. I'm anxious for you to read book 2. I have book 3 but haven't read it yet. Looking forward to seeing how it wraps up. I think I'll be grossed out if she ends up with Linden even though he doesn't seem to be a BAD guy... umm.... just no. Def a really unique world!!

  2. I really liked this series! I didn't like Cecily in the first book either but she grew on me as I read more. Vaughn is creepy as f***. Seriously, mad scientist. *shudders* Every time he was in a scene my skin crawled. I'll be interested to see your thoughts on the next two books! The world is definitely super creepy and disturbing.

  3. I agree that this book is messed up! The whole idea was just crazy! Rhine felt very realistic to me and that made this so enjoyable :) And yes, the covers took me some time to get used to, but I really appreciate them :D

  4. I've certainly seen this series around, and I will admit to being curious about it. Your review has made me think about giving it a try, particularly since it's (1) finished and (2) got an unusual premise to it. Hope you enjoy the rest of the series!

  5. You know, I've been wanting to read this trilogy since I saw the very first book at the bookstore, but I not-so-patiently waited for all the books to be out so I could read the whole thing in one go. I have NO IDEA why I haven't gotten to it yet!


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