By Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 1
My Rating: 4 Stars
So, I have to be honest, while this was a great series I found it extremely disturbing. If you’ve read the book, would you agree or am I just being weird here? I read all three books and every book was more and more disturbing and I just couldn’t seem to get past the icky feelings. If you haven’t read it and do, I’d be interested in hearing what you thought about them. Did you find aspects of this society to be so disturbing that you physically cringed at the thought of it? Or were you ok with it since the circumstances of science had brought society to this point? Tell me what you thought?
Wither is Lauren DeStefano’s first book in her Chemical Garden trilogy. In Wither, science has cured all disease from society. Or so they thought. One generation was protected and were living long lives, but their children and their children’s children were paying the price. A new virus or genetic defect which only affects new generations, means males don’t live past 25 and females only live to age 20. While society desperately tries to find a cure for the virus before humanity dies, society has decided that sacrifices must be made. Specifically, society has turned to polygamy. Men take multiple wives and have as many children as possible in an effort to keep the human population up. Females are forced into arranged marriages, often taken in the dead of night and sold into these marriages. The wealthy can use the system to their advantage to keep their bloodlines going while a cure is found. In these marriages the females are kept confined and under strict control. Forced into wedlock and into producing children as early as 12 years old.
When sixteen year old Rhine is taken and sold as a bride she’s anything but excited. Despite landing in a household of wealth and privilege she desperately wants to return to her twin brother. And she will do anything to get back to him before he gives up on her. Despite her husband, Linden’s love for her, she knows she can’t get too close if she is going to escape. But Rhine knows that she’ll have to at least pretend to get close if she’s going to become first wife and win some freedom in order to escape. While she plots her escape, Rhine never expected to become close with her fellow sister wives or with Gabriel, one of the servants, who she is desperately attracted too. As Rhine becomes more and more attached to those in her new life, there are secrets that could destroy everything for Rhine. Rhine’s father-in-law has secrets and plans for Rhine and her sister wives, which will put them all in danger and could kill them if they aren’t careful.
I already mentioned that this series gave me major heebyjeebies. Yes, it totally creeped me out. While Linden was respectful and loving with his three wives and he was blissfully ignorant of his fathers doings, I just couldn’t get attached to him. I suppose it’s because I couldn’t help but see his relationship with Cecily as dirty because of their huge age difference. She was 12 and he’s in his 20’s. It’s just so wrong. I couldn’t wrap my head around how their society could find this practice to be ok. It’s both shocking and sad. Because I couldn’t get past this aspect of their society I found myself severely disturbed the entire time I read this series. It’s left me sort of conflicted as to whether I want to recommend this series to others or not. In the first place, it’s well written and moves along at a great pace. It’s full of action, twists and turns and suspense. And DeStefano has created great characters who know suffering and pain but somehow still have bits of hope that they refuse to let die. I just don’t know. I guess I have to go with yes, read these books. See how disturbed they can make you. If they don’t make you cringe when you are reading I’d be surprised.