WITHER (Chemical Gardens #1) By Lauren DeStefano [Review]

wither book

Continuing on my dystopian run, I got a chance to check out WITHER, the first book in the Chemical Gardens series by Lauren DeStefano.

Wither takes place in a world where modern science was able to cure most diseases, leaving that first cured generation with one small problem: the 2nd generation male don’t live past twenty-five years old, while female only live to age twenty. As a result, young girls are now kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

That’s when we meet sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery, who gets kidnapped herself by people called the Gatherers to be sold as a bride. Rhine finds herself prisoner in a mansion, along with two other girls, and married to Linden, the son of the Housemaster Vaughn.

Now Rhine needs to find a way to escape and go home to her twin brother. However, this is easier said than done, especially when Rhine realizes she starts to bond with not only the other two girls, but Gabriel, one of the servants, and most surprising of all, Linden himself.

Even though I was really looking forward to reading Wither, I ended up being a bit disappointed. There are a couple of aspects that didn’t work for me.

First, the whole book was a bit slow. A lot of the scenes seemed repetitive along with some of Rhine’s thoughts. I kept thinking “wait, didn’t I just read that?”

In addition, the story felt stagnant and at some point it felt like because this had to be a series, the author was forced to expand the concept so that they could have more than one book. Ultimately, this could have been told in way less pages.

Second, I didn’t like Linden and no matter how the author tried to make me sympathize with him, there was just something that irked me with his actions. I don’t care that this is a different world and that he was sheltered or whatever reason was given for his behavior, some of it just seemed wrong. And while I don’t want to spoil anything for you, some of his actions were very icky to me and there was just no coming back from it.

Unfortunately, since Linden is a pretty big character in the book, that ended up being a big deal.

So that’s what I didn’t like. But now I want to talk about what I did like.

Rhine. I really liked Rhine. She’s a great character and I found myself rooting for her throughout the book and hoping she would find a way to escape.

I also loved the character of Gabriel, in fact I sort of knew that I would like him from the first time he appears in the book. For me having Gabriel in the book was a big redemption from having Linden there too.

I also enjoyed the characters of Jenna, one of the sister wives. There was something tough about her, which I really responded to. I wish there had been more scenes with her.

Finally, my favorite part of the book was the ending. No, not because it ended, quite the contrary in fact, because that’s when Wither started getting good. The last few chapters finally had me turning pages like crazy wondering what was going to happen next, and just when I thought “Oh this is getting good”, it ended.


The good news is, that I now actually want to know what happens next in the Chemical Gardens series.

Overall, Wither was disappointing but did have some good moments. Should you put it at the top of your list? Not necessarily. However, if you are a dystopian lover, you shouldn’t dismiss it either. And maybe some of the issues I had, won’t bother you as much as they did me.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars | Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing | Pages: 356 | Source: Publisher | Buy on Amazon

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