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Interesting idea but it wasn't for me...
Wither - Lauren DeStefano
Member Name: InchyInchy
Wither - Lauren DeStefano
Disadvantages: It wasn't something that I completely enjoyed but I did finish it.
What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb -- males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape -- to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.
This is the way the world ends not with a bang but a whimper
Wither is the first book in The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano and really this book has received a huge amount of attention and hype, for both the story and the beautiful cover art. However, for me Wither was a bit of an anti-climax, I was expecting greatness and what I read left me feeling slightly confused and really wandering why all the fuss had been made. One thing that I will happily admit that Wither really has going for it, is cover appeal - the cover is gorgeous and really stands out from what is on the YA shelves at the moment. However, that is simply not enough for me.
One of the things that really threw me in this book was that the science that Lauren DeStefano spouts is just plain wrong and unbelievable. Please before you shout at me - 'it's just fiction', I know that. But if she has created a world that has been destroyed by science I expect something plausible, even if it is only loosely plausible with many 'ifs' and 'maybes' thrown in. It is impossible for the polar ice-caps to melt and leave America safe while wiping out the rest of the world - impossible! America would be as devastated as the rest of the world and especially the coastal areas where the story was set would be well under water, in a very similar situation to France, which in Wither's world lies under the ocean. It also ever so slightly annoys me that America is the only place to survive.
I also have issues with the age ranges - Why 20 for women and 25 for males and why so precise? It would have been more realistic if she had chosen a rough time - early 20s. However, I am willing to forgive this because of the people that do die in the book one was well before 20 and the other was several months after, but none of this is really explained and a lot of things are just skipped over.
Where is the law? In Wither we are either introduced to the poverty stricken children that no-one seems to care about or the fabulously opulent wealthy who can basically do what they want. Such as kidnap, rape, torture and sell women into prostitution. Linden is an architect and he builds homes that seemed quite middle class in nature, so there must be more to Wither's society than simply uber wealthy or extremely poor and there were whole cities filled with party goers and limo drivers, etc, etc. Therefore, why doesn't all it take is one 'bride' - torture captured victim to tell someone, who then calls the police and rescues them? There didn't really seem any explanation?
I think that most of my negative points are all related to the same thing, while Wither may actually be an interesting story I hated the world building. The world that Wither is set in really in my opinion hasn't been done successfully and I found the inconsistencies, errors and things that just didn't quite make sense keep me from enjoying what was great writing and some interesting characters.
I really wanted to like this book, and I just didn't. However, I might still pick up the next one in the series - FEVER, just out of curiosity about where the story is going to go and see if some of the faults with Wither have been ironed out. Although this review has been mostly negatives, I do want to point out that Lauren DeStefano is a beautiful writer and she has some interesting ideas.
I would certainly hesitate to recommend Wither but that doesn't mean that it won't be for you. Having read some other reviews, I do believe that I am in the minority for not liking it. I have certainly read far more positive reviews than I have negative, maybe this is simply another 'marmite' book - you either love it or hate it.
Wither has been classified as a YA novel, but personally I think it might be more of an adult novel, or certainly one for older teens, as it does deal with some adult themes.
Overall - In my opinion not the best book I've read.
Genre -YA?, Dystopian
Published by HarperVoage (Hardback Aug 2011 - Paperback Jan 2011)
Wither - 358 pages (£9.99 - £7.99)
I received a copy of Wither by Lauren DeStefano in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Two out of five stars
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