Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wither Book Review

Author: Lauren DeStefano. Release date: 2011. Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9781442409064.
Annotation:  Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery’s world is ending: efforts to genetically engineer the perfect human race have created a virus that causes all of the children of the first generation of perfect humans to die, men at twenty-five years old, women at twenty. To avoid extinction, women are forced into polygamous relationships with wealthy men to conceive as many children as possible. Rhine is kidnapped from her home and forced to marry a man she has never met; but she won’t be held captive without a fight.  
Personal thoughts:  I absolutely loved this novel! I was sort of apathetic about picking it up, but once I read the first chapter I was hooked. What an excellent start to an original new series! I love to see what different authors do with the whole dystopian concept, and I think that DeStefano really proved her literary prowess with this novel. I cannot wait to pick up the second book as soon as it is released! This is a must-read!   
Plot summary: In sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery’s world, efforts to genetically engineer the perfect human race have created a terrible virus: all of the children of the first generation of the “master race” are destined to die early deaths; men at age twenty-five, women at age twenty. The virus has caused society to be pushed to the brink of anarchy. To avoid extinction, girls are forced into polygamous marriages to conceive as many children as possible. Teens as young as thirteen are rounded up by the dozens and sold to the highest bidder. Rhine has managed to survive on the streets of Manhattan with her twin brother, Rowan, but, unable to escape the fate of so many girls, finds herself kidnapped and living in the house of Vaughan Ashby and his son, twenty-year-old Linden. Along with two other girls, eighteen-year-old Jenna and thirteen-year-old Cecily, Rhine is abruptly married to Linden and living a glamorous life of captivity in the Ashby mansion. Determined to return to her brother, Rhine promises herself that she will find a way to escape the confines of her gilded prison.  But when the time comes, will Rhine be able to abandon the sister-wives she has come to love or the handsome servant, Gabriel, who she quickly finds herself falling for?
Review:  Debut author Lauren DeStefano’s first installment in her Chemical Garden trilogy proves within the first few pages to be a gripping, utterly original and thoroughly addicting masterpiece. DeStefano immediately immerses the reader in the horrors of Rhine’s world: society is on the brink of anarchy and girls are forced into lives of prostitution, kidnapping, and rape on a regular basis. The glitz and glamour of the mansion that Rhine finds herself living in creates an almost sickening juxtaposition with the reality of what is happening to Rhine and her sister-wives. The relationship between Linden Ashby’s three wives is arguably the crux of the story, although the romance between Rhine and her servant, Gabriel, and Rhine’s memories of her beloved twin-brother, Rowan, are also important plot elements. In creating such a vivid and complex story, DeStefano has really set the stage for a dystopian trilogy that will, in all likelihood, stay fresh through the following two novels. The sequel, Fever, is set to be released in February 2012. It will, no doubt, prove to be another wonderful installment in a very promising series equally enjoyable for teen and adult readers alike.
Genre: Science-Fiction
Reading level: Grade 8+
Similar titles: Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.      
Themes:  Dystopian, marriage, polygamy, sisters, kidnapping, murder, captivity, love.
Awards/Reviews:  Positive reviews Booklist, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, Kirkus and School Library Journal.  
Series Information: First installment in Chemical Garden trilogy. Second novel, Fever, to be released in February 2012.
Discussion questions:
- Do you think that the future Rhine lives in could ever be possible? Why or why not?
- Who do you like better: Jenna or Cecily? Why?
- Do you think Linden is a bad person? Why or why not?
- What do you think Housemaster Vaughan was doing in the basement?
- If you were Rhine, would you try to escape? Why or why not?
- What would you like to see happen in the second novel, Fever?

1 comment:

  1. Thoughts from Kyla -

    Ok, so I really enjoyed the plot-line and where the author went with the characters. It really reminded me of Hunger Games and a bit about House of the Scorpion. The writing was a bit too straight-forward, but you usually didn’t notice that because of the action so that was fine. What I wish the author had done – more interaction of Vaughn. I felt like he was a character that was built up a lot and then didn’t actually do anything. There was just a lot of intrigue about him and very little action. Second, I feel like the ending was really abrupt. It felt like the author ran out of steam and didn’t know where to go from the actual planning to leave the house, so she just wrapped it up. It should not have been that easy for them to escape. It is also really difficult to believe that Vaughn wouldn’t go after them, even for his own pride or to save his son so much despair. Then I would have liked the story to end with the reuniting of Rowan. I feel like that would have tied up the story a bit better then how it ended. Another character I would have liked to see more developed was Linden. His personality did a complete 180 from when he was picking out his brides and he first ran into her in the mansion to actually getting to know him, and I felt like he could have had a bigger impact in the story, since it was obvious he had such a bigger impact in their lives. I also cant believe he was so much of a wuss that he didn’t push Rhine to sleep with him. Another point was the fact that there was no cure, and they are still doomed to die at a depressingly young age. Sooo, sequel? There is just so much to wrap up, it left we with the feeling of “that was it?”. Besides those suggestions, the book was well thought-out. The relationship between Rhine, Jenna, and Cecily was very well done. Rhine was a likeable character who acted like a 16 year old in the fact that she started to respond to kindness even though she didn’t want to from Linden, and tried to offer him what he needed. I really loved the sub conflict of Cecily’s struggle with being a mother, so young and yet trying so hard to give her child what he needs despite the fact that Vaughn was making it nearly impossible.
    Overall all this book needs is a sequel and itll be perfect!