Wither (Chemical Garden)

Wither (Chemical Garden) - Lauren DeStefano

Let me start by saying that when Wither was first released and everyone was rushing out to get it, I was standing back. I had read the blurb and kept thinking to myself, “I don’t think I want to read this one.” Why? The whole theme revolves around polygamy. And my first initial reaction was that it was going to be a heavy religious undertone reading, and these types of books usually make me uncomfortable, and more often than not, I don’t like them. I didn’t want to put myself through that, and I certainly wouldn’t have found it fair to read something that I knew ahead of time I wouldn’t like.


So…almost a year passes, and I keep hearing non-stop about how amazing this book is from friends and blogging buddies and my curiosity just keeps building. When it was released on paperback, I continuously walked by it in the store, not-so-casually glancing at it. Finally, I just compromised with myself and said, “Okay. I’ll try. If it turns out badly for me, I probably just won’t review it. Simple enough.” I went home with my pretty paperback copy (and yes, I just adore the cover, I did back when it was first released on hardcover even) and it took me some time to start it. I had to prepare myself. When I was ready, I started it, opening the pages with some worry, cringing and thinking that maybe I’d gotten myself into a series I shouldn’t have. I’d read the reviews of my friends and blogging buddies. I trusted them. They assured me I should love it. But really, I still have my own tastes, and I don’t agree with them on everything at times.


But from starting the first page, everything melted away. My worries and fears. I started reading Wither, and I couldn’t believe that I had been passing on this for so long because of some cautions that weren’t there to worry about at all in the end anyway.


Yes, Wither is about a world of polygamy, but it was so much deeper than that. There’s not religious undertones. This is about survival and trying to keep the human race thriving for as long as possible. The characterization is complex and often sad at times. And DeStefano’s world building was so strange, yet stunning and visual, I could imagine each detail. Sure, I had a hard time really believing that some of the things could even be possible, or finding answers to questions (how did it happen that women only lived to twenty and men to twenty-five?), but I was still drawn in despite it. The story starts off with an immediate hook that pulls you right into the story. There’s no turning back after this.


Once I started, I could not put it down. Rhine was a character to love--strong, intelligent, caring. And Housemaster Vaughn is a villain that is truly evil with a real purpose. I loved that. Often in books, our villains are chatty, are just there to be “mean” to our heroines/heroes, or not seemingly all that bad at all. Not him. He’s cruel and tortuous with a motive. I didn’t like Gabriel much, to be honest. I understand he was the “love interest”, but he didn’t seem too developed to me compared to the other characters so I didn’t get a sense of attachment to him. At times, he felt weak. He couldn’t stand up for himself or for Rhine when it was important. I hardly knew him. Perhaps it was because I gave all of my attachment to Linden. Maybe I’m weird for this, I don’t know. I liked him a lot, and felt a lot of sympathy for him and how he had no idea what was going on behind the scenes. He obviously cared. But the poor guy didn’t know what was happening and what his father was really doing. I feel like if he only knew the truth, things would have been different.


And this is where Rhine annoyed me in some situations. She kept some important secrets from him, because I felt she was a bit selfish. Like I said, this could have all been my own interpretation of matters, but that’s how I feel. Whew. This is perhaps the longest review I’ve written. Not a bad thing at all, of course. I absolutely adored Wither and now I’m so glad I finally came around to it. This book was scary in a way of seeing this strange world, and so thought-provoking.


I love when books make me think like this. The characters and details are amazing. If you haven’t read it, and are wary of reading it like I had been, I’m highly recommending it. It’s definitely one to pick up. It’s onto FEVER for me now. Hoping it’s just as good!


4.5 stars!