caren reads.

Wither (Chemical Garden)

Wither (Chemical Garden) - Lauren DeStefano I don't even know if I can assign a star rating to this book. Did I love it? No. Did I hate it? No. Did it keep me interested? Definitely. After reading, I can certainly understand why there's been so much hype and discussion surrounding this novel. The story itself... these characters – they pulled me in. There were parts of the book that made me sad. There were parts that disgusted me, and there were parts that tempted me to throw my iPad across the room because I was so pissed off.In DeStefano's future, men and women are infected with a "virus" that results in early death (at ages 25 and 20 respectively). Scientists and doctors have been working for generations to find a cure. In this setting, they've turned the sanctity of marriage into something less romantic and more nightmarish. Men called "Gatherers" search for young girls so they can be married off and transformed into baby making factories so there are more generations and more humans to be researched on.In this case, the main character, Rhine is pulled from her home - from her life - and selected as one of the three unwilling brides of a House Governor in line-up of other girls around her age. The ones he doesn't choose? They're murdered. Brutally. This is the reality these men and women live in.When Rhine wakes up in a mansion, surrounded by rich things and strange people, she realizes what’s happened to her. She does her best to stay strong, and I’ll admit, it’s the fact that she is a product of her parents and her twin brother, Rowan’s strength that I believe she was able to remain herself (for the most part). There were points when I feared she would fall down the inevitable rabbit hole and succumb to her new husband’s advances. And if she’d done that? This book would have completely lost me. The fact that she seemed to stay as strong as she could until the very end was what kept me going. I had to know how it would end and if the future would be a happy one for her.In her situation, Rhine seems to make the best of things. She forms a close bond with her new husbands dying first wife, Rose. She’s polite to the house staff – they all refer to her as the “nice one.” She tolerates her new sister-wives Jenna and Cecily (barely). And she meets Gabriel… one of the house “attendants” (a nice word for slave), and god, I just want to put Gabriel in my pocket forever and keep him safe. He was one of the highlights in this book for me. After Rose’s death, we begin to see the rest of the characters come out. Jenna, the oldest of the new sister-wives, seems to be just biding her time until she dies in two years. But Cecily? Cecily is still the little girl inside who aspires to be so much more. Where she was raised (in an orphanage) she was brought up to believe the position she’s been put into is a good one. She’s got money now and (she believes) power as well. What could possibly be wrong with that, right?A. Fucking. Lot. (Pardon my French)Cecily is thirteen years old. THIRTEEN. A little girl. Who should be playing with dolls and having sleep-overs. She shouldn’t be getting married, having sex and BIRTHING CHILDREN. What’s even more frightening is that she seems to take to this whole “wife” thing easier than anyone else. She’s even pushy about it, and complains that their new husband, Linden, hasn’t made any advances on her since their “marriage.”Which just makes me think: WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO?And that brings me to Linden. How do I even begin to start with him? I will admit that in the beginning, he broke my heart. When Rose was sick and lying on her deathbed, I felt like he truly did care for her. She was the love of his life. And when she passed, I hurt for him. That’s pretty much where the hurting stopped, though. Because while his grief may have been real, in that sadness, he allowed his father to guide him to do things he may not have normally done. I had high hopes that he’d wake up and realize that he was just another puppet on a string for his father’s plans, but he didn’t. I’d thought for a second that maybe he was just doing all of it to please his father and that he would leave the girls alone because of his grief for Rose. He didn’t.And when Cecily showed up in the library to greet the other girls and it was clear her virginity had been taken? I wanted to run him over with my car. Twice.Then I just felt sick again. I absolutely lost sympathy for anything he did, or any pain he might have been feeling.He may have been as Rhine saw him – just as imprisoned and sheltered as these girls were (because of his father) – but if that were true, he could have done things differently. Though he never forced himself on any of them (including Rhine), I’m still curious if he was really that dumb; or if he knew what his father was doing and just played stupid in front of the girls to earn their trust.I’m not gonna lie though; I got a bit of a smile on my face thinking of what Linden will wake up to find on that morning in January. Or what he won’t… *snicker*I’m happy with the way the book ended, and I’m anxious to see what the future holds for all of these characters. I have a feeling getting away might have been the easy part; staying away will be what’s truly difficult.Full review:

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