Customer Reviews for

Wither (Chemical Garden Series #1)

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

37 out of 39 people found this review helpful.

Great book!

This book is the BOMB DIGGITY! For real. It totally exceeded my expectations and left me with wanting more. Not only was this book one unique read, it totally captured every part of me as I read it. I held my breathe as my eyes raced across the pages reading every emoti...
This book is the BOMB DIGGITY! For real. It totally exceeded my expectations and left me with wanting more. Not only was this book one unique read, it totally captured every part of me as I read it. I held my breathe as my eyes raced across the pages reading every emotion, every secret, every betrayal.

For Rhine everything is fake. She is forced to be a bride to a man she has never met or know. Forced to lived in a nice prison with other sisters wives. Though her time is short, she will not live this way. She longs for her freedom and just wants to be home safe. With danger lurking around every corner, Rhine learns everything and anything, plays the role she needs to play in order to get out.

This book is just WOW. It blew me away. Literally. I was so engrossed in the book, so connected with Rhine that I felt her angry, her pain, her longing for freedom. She was so strong. How she manages not to fall apart completely is beyond me. Poor thing had to just keep picking herself up and keep going. Rhine played her role so good, at times I thought that maybe she was giving in. That she would comply and just live the life she was given. But no, she always came back to remind herself of what is really at stake. Gabriel was nice touch to the book. He let Rhine true self come out and I loved learning about her through him.

I don't want to give to much away, but man this book is just unexplainable. You just have to read it in order to understand what I am trying to say. Ms. DeStefano, your book is complete and total awesomeness. It is the best book of 2011. Ms. DeStefano did what books are supposed to do. Take you away for an adventure of a lifetime. And this adventure, is one that I will never forget.

posted by BooksWithBite on March 7, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

Just ok

It was an "ok" easy read. However, there is nothing about these characters that will drag me into another of these books. I will admit to being a bit disappointed after all of the glowing reviews I read prior to the purchase.

posted by 7235032 on March 27, 2011

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  • Posted February 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Dystopian world

    I listened to this as an audio book on my Ipod as I ran. The story was so engrossing there were times I was willing to run for longer just to keep listening. Lately I feel like all the YA books I've read have been dystopian. I recall seeing this one reviewed on a number of blogs months back, probably around it's release time at the beginning of 2011. I added it to my TBR list, but it can take me quite a while to get to all the books I want to read.

    This book painted a scary portrait of the world, where some sort of fluke with the first generation has caused all of their children to have shortened lifespans. The first generation were test tube babies. One thing I kept wondering, and wondering if I had missed while listening, is why that generation then decided to have children without using any artificial means. If there was a problem why not go back to DNA from before to see if things could be fixed rather than doing the same thing over and over with the same results. Perhaps that would not have made for such a good story, or maybe I missed that when listening.

    Another inaccuracy in the book was that once a baby has been fed formula it will not be willing to nurse again. While I did not use formula with my children I know plenty of families who use a combination of formula and breast milk/nursing and have no problems switching between the two. That point made me cringe because this book is for YA readers and I hate for that idea to get stuck in their heads. Done with my soapbox now, that isn't really the point of the story just an issue that rubbed me the wrong way.

    Rhine goes out one day one her own, which she usually never does sticking with her twin brohter, Rowen, for safety. She is hoping to find a job to help her brother in providing for them. They spend all their time and energy on surviving. Instead of finding a job, Rhine is sold to be a bride of a wealthy governor who lives in a totally different state. Once there she and her two new sister wives are held on a floor of the house with their bedrooms locked, they are forced to marry a man they do not know, and are then given some freedoms within the property. The two other new wives were both from orphanages, while Rhine and her brother had continued to live in the home of their parents after their death.

    Rhine gets to know and like her sister wives and comes to understand her new husband, who is dealing with the sickness and death of his first wife and love when they enter his home. After the life she lived of worrying for survival all the time, this lief is luxurious, with servants and technology and no need to work. It is easy to get distracted by everything, but then she will remember her brother and how she got to where she is and she is determined to find a way to run away and get home to her brother and New York.

    Imagine knowing your death is so close when you have barely lived? What would you be willing to do to live those years as you wish? It will be interesting to see where this series goes in book two which comes out at the end of this month.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2011

    Must read

    Very good cant wait for the follow up

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  • Posted October 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommended!

    This story is so easily captivating and vividly entertaining. Rhine is just another orphaned child that is kidnapped and sold off to be a young bride to fulfill a quest to find an antidote and have babies for men who die at age 25. Sadly without an antidote for the virus, she will die at 20.

    At sixteen, Rhine is thrown into a world that she doesn't want and only goes along so that she can escape to find her brother, Rowan. This terrifying, yet enlightening story is something all teenage girls are susceptible to in this age.

    As she watches what can happen when you follow along and what happens when you don't, Rhine's adventure is far from over when she makes friends with Gabriel, the house attendant.

    I look forward to seeing how Rhine turns out in the end and if there is a cure before she turns 20. This is a very interesting distopian and look forward to more from Lauren.

    Highly recommended for YA readers everywhere.

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  • Posted August 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Debut

    Much farther in our worlds future, to age past your teen years is unheard of. Due to a genetic virus, females die at the age of twenty, while males live only five years beyond that. Because of this, young girls are stolen from their beds and off the streets in the middle of the night to become brides and to bear children.

    With her heterochromatic eyes (one blue, the other brown) sixteen-year old Rhine's beauty is considered rare. When she is kidnapped and forced into a polygamist marriage, Rhine resents the life of luxuries and wealth she is given. She wants to return home to her twin brother, the only family she has left in the world. But when Rhine meets Gabriel, a gorgeous blue-eyed servant for the household, she sees hope beyond the walls of the house. A hope that includes a future with Gabriel. Trying to get out of the home alive though, may be the cause of their eventual demise.

    Debut author Lauren DeStefano tackles the tough subject of teen pregnancy with grace. She doesn't glamorize or make it a big detail of the story. Her creative imagination and writing makes the details of the future not sci-fi, but almost eloquent like historical fiction. I like that angle. The book leaves off with hope for the story line, rather than a cliff-hanger like many trilogy's.

    The highly anticipated second novel of the trilogy, FEVER is due out February 21st of next year, and I know I will be reserving my copy as soon as I can!

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  • Posted August 13, 2011

    I love the world that Lauren created with Wither

    I was reluctant to even read this book as I am a huge advocate of monogamy, but I also understand that it is a story and I do love a good story. For me, Wither did not disappoint.

    Wither grips you from its opening scene placing you in the van of abducted girls with Rhine. You become so involved with the characters you feel like one of the sister wives. You find yourself wanting Rhine to love Linden and hating yourself for it. Goosebumps rise to the surface every time Rhine's father-in-law enters the scene and you shiver in disgust at his voice. You'll cry from the loss of characters throughout the book and the memories that grip Rhine and her older sister wife. The sheer force of will that Rhine has to get back to her brother is a testament to how much she loves him.
    Wither raises the questions of; what I would want to do and have in life knowing that I was only going to live until I was twenty, for me that would have been dying 8 years ago. Would I want children? Would I want to survive? Would I want to find a cure? Would I just say screw you all and become a criminal?
    I love the world that Lauren created with Wither and I can't wait for Fever to grace us with her presence.

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  • Posted August 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great Dystopian

    This was a super dystopian novel that I had a hard time putting down. Rhine shares her world with two sister wives, Cicely (younger) and Jenna (older). The three of them are "married" too Linden - son of the wealthy and devious man. There is no love in the marriages though. Linden only loved his childhood friend Rose who makes a brief appearance in the beginning of the book. He is married to these three by his (evil) father in hopes of procreating.

    The girls in this time period are not given any choices. They are rounded up by the wealthy and either shot or sold depending on their looks and health. Rhine is kidnapped and leaves behind a brother who has no idea what has happened to her. She is not happy with her marriage but is doing the best she can to cope. She meets Gabriel, a servant in the mansion and they become friends. He is the one thing that she looks forward too.

    Though the story is mainly about Rhine, Jenna and Cicely are also well-rounded characters. I particularly liked Cicely. For some reason I pictured her as the Kirsten Dunst character in Interview with the Vampire. A grown-up - albeit a spoiled one - in a child's body.

    I don't think of myself as a fan of dystopian - but every one that I have read I have really enjoyed. I think that I am going to have to start searching them out more! There is a rating of 14 and older for this book, and because of the subject matter that it deals with, I think I would have to agree with that.

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  • Posted July 10, 2011

    Orange Blossoms, Hurricanes, and Brides

    Wither is an excellent YA novel in the dystopian genre- it's less violent than The Hunger Games, more serious than Bumped, and more glamorous than Delirium (note: I enjoyed all of those books, but hopefully that gives you a frame of reference). A 16-year-old girl named Rhine is kidnapped and forced to marry a kind but strange man because his wife and love is dying at only 20. Rhine will die at 20 also, and her new husband at 25, unless a cure is found for the "genetic virus" that kills all young people at these ages. Rhine's wedding also belongs to two other girls, one much younger and one older. This first book in the series chronicles these sister-wives as they get to know one another, their new husband, and his creepy father. They live in a beautiful mansion with lovely gardens and a fancy pool, but to Rhine it is just a prison keeping her from her beloved twin brother.

    I picked this book up at the library because of lots of positive reviews- and I certainly enjoyed it. Most other dystopian fiction I have read is about people struggling to fulfill their daily needs, but Wither examines the future from a comfortable albeit restrictive sitting room. Both views are important for the whole story, but with the harsh conditions that are a reality for some of my students, I find reading about luxury to be more fun. I expect that #2, Fever (next February?), will be quite different from Wither in setting, but I hope that the romantic, feminine tone will continue at least in part.

    Rhine is a beautiful character- she has two different colored eyes, and gives off an air of pride and virtue. Rhine's new husband, Linden, reminds me of Ashley Wilkes- wussy and sheltered, but his father has President Snow written all over him... CREEPER. EW. I kind of like Linden, despite his lack of a spine- perhaps it's his father's fault that he's so dependent on home. His visions of the perfect home provide a window into his grief over the loss of his first wife, Rose, and the life he wanted them to have. Gabriel is a servant in the home, and I'm never quite sure why a male servant is allowed to tend to these imprisoned wives. He's not my type, but apparently he's quite cute, so why can't he tend the gardens or the automobiles or do any job other than directly serving the wives in their rooms? That's just asking for trouble.

    My favorite thing about this book is how beautiful it was- the lovely imagery, the soft language and tragic pictures of the other wives, contrasted with Rhine's anger. This beauty is bittersweet because of both the pain surrounding it and its false nature- most of it is human-controlled, hence the series name "The Chemical Garden." I'm excited for Fever and the adventure it promises. I would recommend this book to any YA reader who is aware that it's not as edgy as Divergent and The Hunger Games- Rhine is a different sort of heroine, but I'm expecting big things from her in the future!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2011


    I love stories that break out of the mold. This is uplifing and heartbreaking at the same time. Can't wait for the next book!

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  • Posted June 28, 2011


    This book was not what I thought it was going to be, but it was still very good and well writen. Can't wait for the next one!

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  • Posted June 23, 2011

    Worth the read

    I couldnt put it down: while there is the main plot of the book there are also many other conflicts that take place at the same time so it never gets boring. Was dissapointed by the ending though... kind of hoped for something different and if you read the book you will know what im talking about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2011


    From the very start of this book the author keeps you on the edge of your seat a wonderful mixture between action and romance

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  • Posted June 21, 2011

    4.3 Stars!

    Okay this book was pretty decent. Not bad at all but also not really great. Rhine was kidnapped and she now entered a new world as a bride.Married to a guy named Linden. Linden is sweet nice and caring. He wasn't rlly prince charming but he's still very charming(to me). One of the things that I loved abt this book was the love triangle, between Rhine,Gbaeriel, and Linden. I don't know why but even before there was any sign of a relationship between Rhine and Gaberiel I still always thought they would make a good couple..and later on in the book what happens? They form a romantic relationship..but Rhine still has this romantic feeling for Linden .I love the ending but at the same time I hated it, youll get why once u read it. Okay now let me get to the flaws of the book. First I didn't like how Gaberiel was in the begining then left and came back in the middle for once chapter then left and reappered somewhere at the end. And I think the relationship between Rhine and Linden wasn't as cute as I wanted it to be. The relationship was kinda rushed..I personally kinda liked Gaberiel and Rhine together better. But those were the only flaws. Everything else was amazing,awsome,beautifully written. [=

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  • Posted June 10, 2011



    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Riveting Dark YA Dystopic

    I really enjoyed reading Wither by Lauren DeStefano, book 1 of The Chemical Garden Trilogy. It's a YA Dystopic and pretty dark. It's set in a future where humans have basically genetically ruined themselves in hopes of prolonging life without illness. There was success with a "first generation" that has no health issues, long lives, and no fear of contracting disease. However, their children and any of the children born thereof, are doomed to lifespans of no more than 20-25 years depending on gender. Because people are dying out so young, and reproduction is under time constraints, and children then become orphaned, society is in a strange unbalanced chaos that includes child brides and polygamous "marriages" by men of wealth taking advantage of the desperate situation. It's an interesting take on biology, society, and genetic modifications. The ending left me hanging a bit but it's worked in making me excited for book 2:)

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  • Posted June 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Simply Brilliant

    "Eventually I realize that I am holding on to him just as tightly as he holds on to me. And here we are: two small dying things, as the world ends around us like falling autumn leaves."

    I honestly have been sitting here for a few hours just wondering where to start with this book...just WOW it completely took me by surprise..I originally bought this book because of the cover (Its SO pretty!!) ...I read the description and figured it be an 'okay' read...I had no idea I was gonna be swept away into this scary mesmerizing world of Rhine's....

    Rhine is 16...she has 4 years left to her life before she drops like a the old world people tried to make generations stronger...healthier, they never imagined that their 'cure' was going to make all future generation girls only live till 20 and boys till 25..Rhine has been captured along with 2 other girls to be a rich man, Lindens brides. but Rhine will not stay trapped in this house of lies...everything around her is haunting and fake and even if she has 4 years left....she is gonna escape...or die trying.

    This book completely blew my mind, Rhine is such a strong character! You cant help but sit there and be rooting for her to get out of there, I loved all the characters in this book, especially Jenna one of Rhine's sister wives. I even found myself loving Linden sometimes...but then kicked some sense into myself and reminded myself what an IDIOT he is to not realize the monster his father is. People I found myself hating were Cecily..who was nothing but annoying from day one. and Vaughn who just plain gives me the creeps...

    All in all I would recommend this book to anyone, I normally dont like dystopia books..but this one will captivate you from page one and have you dying for the second installment when you finish!

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  • Posted June 1, 2011

    Bad ending

    It was great. I couldnt put it down and was eager for the ending. But the ending was really bad. A great read but i was really let down in the end.

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  • Posted May 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Chilling dystopic story

    Great read for fans of the dystopic genre. It is definitely a chilling read and the author does not shy away from uncomfortable topics. I was drawn into each character and the storyline pulled me in. The book ended with me wanting more and looking forward to the next book of the trilogy.

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  • Posted May 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    What I like about this book: It's very futuristic and interesting. It's not the cover nor the title that grabbed my attention to read this book, but the summary. Who wouldn't want to read a book about where AIDS is cured but then you'd die when girls turn to 20 or 25 for boys? The idea of this book is just simply amazing. What I don't like about this book: The dark fantasy/romance surely dominates the shelves of bookstores. It's getting boring, to be honest. Plus, most of the writers are trying to write in the same way...That's why it's a 9. BUT. I would love to read the second book!

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  • Posted May 10, 2011

    Excellent quick read.

    I read this in two days and I fell in love with it. It isnt a happy happy book but it is so interesting and you just want to know more. If you enjoyed The Host and/or The Hunger Games you will enjoy this book.

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  • Posted April 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The beginning of a great dystopian trilogy

    This is not the type of book you read if you want to be happy. I don't mean that in a bad way. Obviously the book is sad. In a world where girls don't live past the age of 20 & boys don't live past 25 where girls are kidnapped and sold to be brides & never see there families it's kind of depressing. But this is such an interesting plot & even though the book isnt very exciting it is still a great book. Before I realized it I was very attached to some of the characters. At one point in the book I couldnt keep myself from crying. I can't wait for the next book to see what will happen. Will someone find an antidote? Will Rhine live to be 20 & then die? Will people pay for what they have done? I can't wait!

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