Review: Wither

Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)

Title: Wither

Author: Lauren DeStefano

Publication Date: March 22nd 2011

Length: 358 pages (Hardcover)

Series: The Chemical Garden #1

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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?

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?


I have had my eyes on this novel for a long time, and thanks to all the positive reviews on Goodreads, my expectations were high. Now I have finally read it, and I’m sad to say that I’m disappointed…

Wither takes place in a dystopian world where, due to genetic alterations, girls live until they’re 20, and boys until they’re 25. I found this concept very interesting, but while reading the book, I realized I didn’t like that it was so specific. I mean, people are different. Why 20? Why 25? How come boys live longer? Girls have longer lifespans in real life, so how come they don’t in this world?

I just didn’t find myself believe in the story.

Another thing that didn’t feel believable, was the whole: “All that’s left of the world is America”. How did the rest of the world “sink” exactly? Don’t you need stuff from other countries to live the way you do?

I have to congratulate DeStefano on the writing though. She wrote the descriptions beautifully and I truly believe she’s a great author. I just didn’t enjoy the story as much as I would have liked. I found it pretty boring and slow paced at times, and I had to push myself to keep reading, which is not a particularly good thing as you might guess.

When the story begins, our protagonist Rhine is in a truck among many other girls. They have one thing in common: they have all been abducted by so called Gatherers. Rhine, along with two other girls, gets chosen to marry the same man and become sister wifes. The rest….

I hear something inside the van where the remaining girls were herded. It’s the first of what I know will be a dozen more gunshots.”

This, my friend, doesn’t make any sense! If you want the world to survive, if you abduct young girls to bear children, why do you kill a van full of people?!? I found no logical explanation. I just felt like DeStefano wanted to shock the readers, and to me, it fell kind of flat.

After being taken away, Rhine later wakes up at her new home prison. She immediatly  starts plotting her escape. With so few years left to live, she would rather be killed running away, than die a prisoner. She has to bide her time, though. If Linden, her new husband, comes to trust her, love her and favour her, she might be able to sneak away. But it’s a dangerous game she’s playing. Lindens father Vaughn (aka the evil son of a bitch) will do anything to keep her in place, Suddenly, though, Linden doesn’t seem as evil as she initially thought, and Rhine finds herself caring about both him and her sister wifes.  What will she do?

Which brings me to another thing I liked, except the language. Namely the relationship between Rhine and her sister wives Jenna and Cecily.

While locked away together, Rhine starts to regard the two other girls like the sisters she never had. In each other, they find allies and safety. Together they can manipulate Linden into doing what they want, and I just found it great :).

Rhine herself wasn’t awful as a protagonist. Actually, she was fine. She had personality, stood up for herself (most of the time) and had some interesting thoughts. She wants to explore the world that no longer exists, she wants to experience true love, she wants to reunite with her twin brother Rowan, and most of all, she wants to be free.

“That’s where I want my body to be cast when I’m dead. I want to be ashes in the ocean.I want to sink to the ruins of Athens and be carried off to Nigeria, and swim between fish and sunken ships. I’ll come back to Manhattan frequently, to smell the air, to see how my twin is doing.”

The love interests in Wither didn’t impress me much. Linden was far too clueless and we didn’t really get to know Gabriel that well. No swoon-worthy characters here no.

In conclusion:

+ The writing

+ Rhine, Jenna and Cecily

+/- The plot

– The world building

– Wasn’t very believable

– Slow paced and kind of boring.

– Uninteresting love interests

Despite all the negative things I have to say about this book, I liked it enough to maybe want to read the sequel. The series has some potential, and maybe it will give me a more positive attitude in the future. It might even give me an explanation to everything that I found unbelievable in this one. We’ll see, we’ll see…It might take a while though.

3/5 Moustaches


“Real is a dirty world in this place.”

But now a eerie silence fills the floor. It’s the silence I imagine in the rest of the world, the silence of an endless ocean and uninhabitable islands, a silence that can be seen from space.”

“I have always been fascinated by the ocean, to dip a limb beneath it’s surface and know that I’m touching eternity, that it goes on forever until it begins here again.”

“All I’ve done to console myself in this place is get lost in the ghost of how the world used to be. 


4 thoughts on “Review: Wither

  1. Jag vet inte om du vill fortsätta att läsa serien, men nästan alla frågor om världsuppbyggnaden och dylikt får sina svar i sista boken. :)

  2. That always bugs me in so many dystopian that only America seems to survive and there’s never anything about the rest of the world! That’s a shame it was disappointing. It’s been on my TBR for ages


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