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Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy) [Kindle Edition]

Lauren DeStefano
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (465 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $9.99
Kindle Price: $8.54
You Save: $1.45 (15%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

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Book Description

What if you knew exactly when you’d die? The first book of The Chemical Garden Trilogy.

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males born with a lifespan of 25 years, and females a lifespan of 20 years--leaving the world in a state of panic. Geneticists seek 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 sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Yet 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 has no way to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive.

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?


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review


Amazon Exclusive: Cassandra Clare Reviews Wither

Cassandra Clare is the author of The Mortal Instruments series. The latest addition to the series is City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments, Book 4).

Lauren DeStefano’s new book, Wither, heralds the coming of a promising new voice in young adult dystopian fiction. Wither introduces us to Rhine Ellery, age sixteen, who lives in a world decimated by the results of genetic engineering. In an attempt to render humanity almost immortal and disease-free, scientists accidentally introduced into human DNA a ticking time bomb — all women live only to age twenty and men to age twenty-five. In this world, riddled with brutality and stricken with poverty, girls are married off as young as thirteen and forced to bear children in a desperate attempt to keep humanity ahead of the wave of disease that threatens to eradicate them.

Lately readers have been seeing an influx of books handling new and old topics in a different, more female-centric way. Part parable, part warning, Wither puts women and girls at the heart of a dystopian tale mixing progress and disempowerment, science and secrecy. After being kidnapped from the home she shares with her twin brother, Rhine is "sold" to a rich man, Linden, along with two other girls, Cecily and Jenna. Their polygamous marriage is seen as necessary, for Linden’s father is a scientist trying to find a cure for the "virus" that strikes down youth, and he needs new subjects for his experiments — subjects in whose DNA, he hopes, a cure can be found.

The day-to-day lives of Rhine and her sister-wives — parties, pregnancy, babies — contrasts starkly with the shadow of death that looms over every action. Even Rhine’s growing romance with a servant, Gabriel, could lead to vicious punishment for them both — as could her repeated attempts to escape her gilded prison. This story, the first of a trilogy, leaves us with a glimmer of hope but no easy answers.

From Booklist

When scientists engineered genetically perfect children, everyone thought it would ensure the future of the human race. Though the first generation is nearly immortal, a virus causes all successive generations to die early: age 20 for women, 25 for men. Now, girls are kidnapped for brothels or polygamous marriages to breed children. Rhine is taken from her hardscrabble life and sold with two other girls to Linden Ashby. Though they live in a palatial Florida home surrounded by gardens and treated like royalty, the girls are sequestered from the outside world, and Rhine longs to escape. Her growing affection for her sister wives, her pity for Linden, and her fear of Housemaster Vaughn, Linden's manipulative father, keep her uncomfortably docile, until she falls for servant Gabriel. This character-driven dystopia, more thoughtful than thrilling, sets up an arresting premise that succeeds because of Rhine's poignant, conflicted narrative and DeStefano's evocative prose. Many will appreciate the intense character drama; however, the world building is underdeveloped, with holes in internal logic.Still, this first title in the Chemical Garden Trilogy will surely be popular. Grades 9-12. --Krista Hutley

Product Details

  • File Size: 1795 KB
  • Print Length: 373 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1442409053
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (March 22, 2011)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003UYUOOK
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,031 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Lauren DeStefano's debut novel, Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy), opens with a harrowing scene: young women have been plucked off the streets and forced into the back of a van. Some will be killed, and others will be sold into polygamous marriages. Ever since geneticists made a mistake, all women die at age 20 and all men at age 25. Along with two other women, Rhine is sold to a wealthy man as a replacement for his dying wife. Locked away in his mansion, Rhine must decide whether to accept the life of luxury she's been provided or whether to risk everything to escape back to a world of freedom and her twin brother.

WITHER opens with the best first chapter I've read in a while, and the story's hook will grab readers immediately. The book excels in its chilling depiction of the realities of Rhine's world, and the writing doesn't shy away from descriptions about sex and sexuality, the inner workings of the polygamous marriage, and how different people would adapt to the situation. Through its story, the novel also touches on hot issues like assisted reproduction and genetic engineering. Rhine and her two sister-wives, Cecily and Jenna, are sympathetic as characters in their own unique ways. I found their complicated relationships with one another to be the most compelling in the book. The novel also finishes with an ending that can stand on its own, even with the known sequel forthcoming.

Despite the extremely strong opening, storyline, and created world, the book faltered a bit. The mythology and world building regarding the "virus" and the resulting society was not always clear and had some plot holes.
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56 of 64 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The premise around this story is really interesting. Polygamy in a post-apocalyptic world? Very intriguing. I was excited when I sat down with this book.

It starts out well, and the horror and fear rippling through the girls is tangible. I started out liking Rhine a lot, and empathized with all three girls as they were forced into a marriage that they didn't necessarily want or understand. I really love the friendships that blossom between them, too. By the end of the story, they were close enough to be sisters, and something that affects one of them affects all. That was really well done.

I wish the world-building had been clearer. What is this virus? Why is North America the only continent left? Even if we don't get the full answer, something is better than nothing. Also, if the human race is dying, then a woman's womb would be a very precious commodity. Girls with no means would be lining up to have babies in exchange for room and board. There wouldn't be a need for Gatherers. If anything, there would be so much competition to get pregnant that the wealthy would be able to pick and choose and run any kind of genetic test they want in order to narrow down the list. The Gatherers would only be needed for dangerous or fatal medical testing--the kind no one would volunteer for. These are all very interesting concepts that I hope are explored in future books.

As the story progressed, I had a lot of difficulty with Rhine. She goes on and on about being free, and, at first, that makes sense. But then we learn more about how Linden's house works, and that Vaughn is the real villain. It's made clear that Rhine will never be harmed because she's too valuable, even though others aren't so lucky. Her reaction to this is to run away instead of trying to help.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING STORYTELLING February 24, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Every now and then, I try reading a new author and hit pay dirt. This was definitely one of those times. This book keep me turning pages until the end and I don't think it gets any better then that when reading.

The opening quote by T.S. Eliot ("This is the way the world ends not with a bang but a whimper.") is a very fitting start to this story of a dystopian future. A future that is not so far away and could happen. The first paragraph is chilling and the author certainly has a way with words ("They keep us in the dark for so long that we lose sense of our eyelids"). Seventy years ago, scientists engineered super embryos that became favored over the old fashioned method of having your own. This was done to help society as the population was decimated by cancer but of course there was a price to pay. The first generation of super embryos were fine but all of their offspring have a life expectancy of 20 (females) to 25 (males). Science running amuck is nothing new and has been done plenty of times before (Logan's Run) but this author succeeds in making it fresh. Our heroine's world is much darker than any Hollywood movie.

I liked how the characters and situations in this story were not simply good or bad but various shades of grey. Housemaster Vaughn is a villain but the purpose behind his horrific acts is to find a cure, an ends justifies the means kind of guy. Even though Rhine was forced to become part of a polygamous lifestyle, she uses Linden to make her own life more comfortable. It was interesting to see how inner morals either bend or break when survival is at stake.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Weird, Just Great
I remember when this book was really popular a few years ago, which is when i bought it. So now that I've finally decided to pick it up, it's like getting a completely new book for... Read more
Published 2 days ago by SMM
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing dystopian
My full review can be found on my review blog here: http://armywife2310 DOT wordpress DOT com/2013/11/10/review-wither-by-lauren-destefano

Lauren created a beautiful... Read more
Published 6 days ago by armywife2310
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
This first book really blew me away with the detail of this world. the ideas presented on a possible future are insane but great at the same time. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Jennifer E. Grenz
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I read this book when it first came out and twiddled my thumbs to wait for the second to come out. And then the third. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Esme Morgenstern
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs more revising
I really enjoyed the idea behind this story and had high hopes for the book but didn't feel any connection to the characters. Read more
Published 19 days ago by ecole
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting debut
In a single word I would say this book is... haunting. The depth of emotions with most of the main characters was very well communicated. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Jenn G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly great!
What a cool new take on a dystopian future! I love the setting, the splendor contrasted with the withered and dying, the almost pharmaceutical coldness, the diseased. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Sarah
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down !
My daughter read the book. She went through it in less than a week. She wanted to tell me all about it. She loved it and looks forward to reading others by the same author
Published 1 month ago by Aisha Harrison Nawaz
1.0 out of 5 stars Passive voice. Present Tense. First Person.
This book left a lot to be desired due to the first person, passive voice, present tense sentence structure. Read more
Published 1 month ago by K. L. Phan
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, But Slightly Damaged
Arrived with some damage to the dust jacket and a 'bargain price' sharpie slash on the bottom. Great story and I recommend it but buy somewhere else.
Published 1 month ago by Jonathan Raunikar
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More About the Author

Lauren Destefano earned her BA in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing from Albertus Magnus College in Connecticut in 2007. This is her first novel.

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When is the second book coming out?
February 2012 :)
May 15, 2011 by M. Rubright |  See all 3 posts
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