Wither (Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano
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 limted time she has left.My thoughts:
Wow! This book was never what I expected it to be. But I loved it! The story is very beautiful, but so heartbreaking! (And how could it not be, when everyone dies so young and there is this feeling of loneliness and finality?)
Rhine becomes one of the three brides of Linden, a very wealthy young man, and despite all the privileges she gets and the unusual bond she shares with the other wives, she can't have what she desires most: freedom. Her father-in-law is a doctor who tries to find an antidote for the virus that kills people when they are so young, but his methods are very mysterious and kind of creepy. He's also the reason why Linden and his wives spend all their time in their huge mansion or on the property that surrounds it, which is yet another reason for Rhine to despise everything and to want to run away as soon as possible. Linden loves her and they grow closer eventually, but all she wants is to go back home to her brother. And she's willing to do anything to accomplish that, no matter the cost.
It was a little hard for me to get my mind around all this polygamy thing. Especially because Rhine and her sister wives got along so well and they even cared about each other and they didn't mind sharing their husband. On the contrary - Rhine was even encouraging it, since she cared more about Gabriel and her escape plan. So I felt bad for Linden - his feelings for Rhine were genuine, but he was so kept in the dark! He had no idea what was really going on with his wives and how much damage his father was capable of. I really hope things will get better for him in the following books. *sigh*
As for Rhine, I really like her as a character. She never gives up, she's smart and strong and can see things that her new family is oblivious to. And even when she plans to escape, she still tries to protect everyone and to do her wife duties. ( well, sort of :D)
Anyway, there's not much I can say about this book without spoiling it. It was indeed a great read, an emotional roller coaster that kept me up late at night. Lauren's writing is so spellbinding and heartfelt, that I just couldn't put it down! And I felt for all the characters - actually, they pulled so many emotions out of me, that I just wanted to get inside the story to hug them and do something for them. :)) And after that bittersweet ending, I don't even want to know how long I have to wait until the next book comes out - I need to read more! *head desk*
So Wither was a very pleasant surprise, a fabulous book that I recommend to everyone. Just don't read it when you're in a bad mood. ;)