Publisher's Summary. 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?
Review. What’s the problem with starting a great new trilogy series? Waiting for the next installment! Seriously, Lauren Destefano's Wither, book one in the Chemical Garden Trilogy, is that addictive!
This dystopian novel begins about 70 or so years in the future with only the United States in existence because the rest of the world was destroyed in an apocalyptic war. The humans race isn't doing so hot either: life expectancies are 20 years for females and 25 years for males. This dire predicament is the result of genetic engineering which cured nearly all diseases and illnesses in the “First Generation” of artificially conceived children (now gracefully aging adults), but went awry with subsequent progeny who are infected with a mysterious, lethal virus and doomed to die as young adults. While the populace waits for a cure, wealthy First Generationers buy young girls, who have been kidnapped, to betroth their sons in polygamous marriages and bear new offspring.
Sixteen year old Rhine Ellery, one of these brides, has been forced to marry the “nice,” but weak willed Linden, son of the evil First Generation Housemaster Vaughan. She shares Linden with two other sister wives fourteen year old Cecily and eighteen year Jenna. Rhine, however, is determined to flee her gilded mansion-prison and reunite with her twin Rowan.
Wither is not my normal genre and I was a little reluctant to read it. My worries were unfounded, however, because Destefano's characters are engaging and the "end-of-the world-as-we-know- it" plotline was riveting. I especially enjoyed the friendships between the sister wives as they seemed genuine (or as realistic as could be imagined given the unusual circumstances). Each bride dealt with her situation differently and yet they found common ground between them. I was also drawn into Rhine's longing to be free and with her brother -- against all the odds. Each page propelled me to the next, making Wither hard to set aside.
Lastly, Wither works as a stand alone story -- with a beginning, middle and end -- but personally I can't wait for the next chapter in Rhine's quest!
Advance reading copy provided courtesy of the publisher.
I'm a reader/commuter in the DC Metro Area. My daily commute to work provides me with ample time to do what I love most: read! Whether its chick lit, literature, memoirs or other non fiction you can always find me with a book.
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