Title: Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy #1)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Pages: 358 (I have an ARC, so page numbers may differ in final copies)
Source: Publisher for review
Challenges: Debut Author Challenge
Summary (From back of book):
In the not-too-distant future, because of genetic engineering, every human is a ticking time bomb -- males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. To keep the population from dying out, girls are kidnapped and sold into polygamous marriages.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine is taken, she enters a world of wealth and privilege that both entices and terrifies her. She has everything she ever wanted -- except freedom. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to escape before it is too late.
My Two Cents:
Dystopian literature is all the rage these days in the young adult arena, and this trilogy by a debut author (Who just happens to be about my age :)) is poised to take its place among some of the greats of the last couple years.
DeStefano creates a world that, in the way that Brave New World is frightening, is eerily prescient in its possibilities. The human race, in an effort to create "perfect" people, engineered an entire generation of perfectly healthy, long-living people. The one thing they didn't foresee, however, was that their experiments caused the life spans of all future generations to become devastatingly shortened. Humanity currently has much of the technology that could pull of this scenario, if given enough time, and the way that designer babies and life-prolonging measures are headed, it's highly probable that something similar could occur in the future. This is one of those dystopian novels that makes you fear for humanity and, in a way, wish that many of the things we know now had never been discovered. I often found myself chilled by the thought that this could happen in the future, and this could be the way humanity exists. Scary.
Rhine is one of those teen characters that I like best. She's got an innocence about her when she's seduced by the glitter that surrounds her at Linden's mansion, and she wants to trust people, but she's still worldly enough to know that all that glitters is not gold. There's a good, solid head on her shoulders, and she's constantly looking for ways out of the life into which she was forced. Sure, she laments the life she once led, but she doesn't get too whiny and mopey (As many teen characters, regardless of whether they're in dystopian novels, have a tendency to be) and pull the "poor me" card. She's always thinking and always observing and always figuring out ways to play her advantages.
The ending of this installment leaves the whole rest of the series wide open with possibilities. What will happen to Rhine? What will happen to all the other characters (I'm not going to say anything because that would give too much away)? Will anyone find a cure for the mysterious virus that strikes at the fatal birthday?
I would highly recommend this book to any fan of science fiction, fantasy or dystopian literature. It doesn't even read as a young adult novel many times; it's perfect for adults and teens alike.