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By: Lauren DeStefano
Published by: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Genre: YA, Dystopian
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Synopsis (from Amazon):
By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking 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 kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. 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 is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out?
Ok, I am guilty of buying this book because the cover is gorgeous. I’m not kidding. I had no idea what it was even about up until the moment I started reading it.
This book takes place in the future, where, in the future world they have found a cure to cancer but somehow managed to wonk up our life spans in the process; thus causing everyone to die in their twenties. Since everyone dies early, girls are basically kidnapped and either whored out, killed, or forced into marriage to make babies.
This book, for me, was just “OK”. My main problem with it is I just didn’t feel a connection to the characters at all. I mean, I didn’t care whether they made it through the book or not. The one I did actually feel a connection to, died. If you don’t care about the characters, I mean… ya know?
Story wise, I loved the general idea of it. The whole possibility of ruining humanity by curing all our major diseases was kind of cool. What I didn’t enjoy was the execution of the idea, the lack of compassion I felt toward the characters (they were just bland to me), made the story very boring. Also, the constant “repeating” of certain instances through the book. Like the author thought I might have forgotten already from 50 pages ago. I also don’t feel like anything major happened. I mean, the opening of the story is pretty heavy but story arc wise after that there was just build- no not even build… more “coast” than “build”…with minor “pay offs”, there was no big climax for me.
I like series books that the books themselves not only lead into one another but have enough story to them to stand on their own, as well. Because there is no “big” finish with Wither, it feels almost like the author submitted A book and they decided to break it up to try to get a series out of the story. I’m not trying to be mean, but this story just isnt “BIG” enough for that. I haven’t read books 2 and 3 in this series, but I have a feeling if I did I would conclude they would have been fine as all one book. I mean book one was only 368 pages long, and much of it is rehash and story padding. I wish I would have waited for the entire series to be available because I really have a feeling that the SERIES will be great. Just, this book fell flat and needs the rest of the story to hold it up. If that makes any sense.
Some things I noted while reading:
Polygamy in a YA book. hmm. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I mean, I am not one to judge someone else’s lifestyle for sure…but for me personally… ewww.
21 year old man getting a 13 year old girl pregnant. Not only is this skeevy, I totally don’t think it should be in a book meant for children. Much less be in a childs book portrayed as normal and acceptable. yuck. Yes, I know this is YA not a middle grade reader, but come on. Plently of 11-16 year olds will be picking this up. That cover is too gorg and enticing! lol Back to my original thought. YUCK!
Linden was a nice, all be it naive, guy.
- Why didn’t Rhine just tell him she was kidnapped and not from an orphanage like he thought?
- Why didn’t she just ask him to let her brother live with them?
- Why didn’t she tell him about the baby?!
- Why not tell him that Vaughn killed Jenna?
Speaking of Vaughn…
House Master Vaughn was such a douchebag. I think. Why all the hinting at all his bad deeds? Instead just give them to us so we can truly hate him! I mean all the build up about how awful he is, and then… NOTHING. WTF! I sure hope he does some evil stuff and gets what’s coming to him in the later books, or there was no reason for him to even be in the dang story! Of course I’ll never know, because I didn’t care enough about the characters to venture on into book 2. *sadface*
So in conclusion, and in my opinion…
This book was just OK. I lacked any connection to the characters in the story and have no desire to continue reading the Chemical Garden series because of it. I’ve seen that most other reviews LOVED this book, and compare it to Handmaids Tale by Margret Atwood. Umm, yea. I don’t know if it’s just because I am older or what but I don’t see that… at ALL.
I say, its readable, but read it at your own risk. Actually, if you want to read it, I would probably wait for the entire series to be out and then you could read them all as one book. Hopefully the others will have more of a story arc, or at least complete the original arc.
NOTE TO PARENTS:
This book contains: violence, child pregnancy, polygamy