Author: Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden #1
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
DeStefano introduces yet another dystopian society series to the young adult collection with the addition of The Chemical Garden trilogy. Like many others, the details on the dystopian are scarce and not well defined, though DeStefano tries to blanket that with the fact that the main character, Rhine, spends the vast majority of the novel trapped into a building with no connection to the outside world, including her twin brother she was taken from when she was captured and stolen away.
Like many other young adult series, Wither also focuses heavily on the romance elements. And while a love triangle seemingly develops between Rhine, her new stranger of a husband Linden, and the charmingly helpful assistant Gabriel, it is not the only love interest in the novel, for Rhine is not Linden's only wife. In DeStefano's dystopian society, all women die at the ripe age of 20 years old, and the men follow shortly after at the age of 25 years old. No one knows why, but many of the wealthy of the first generation (who did not have the same expiration issue) are trying desperately to find a way around it, including Linden's creeping and menacing father. When Linden's wife and true love, Rose, nears her expiration, Linden's father brings three new women in, including Rhine, for Linden to wed and bed.
So while a love triangle between Rhine-Gabriel-Linden exists, it also competes - for lack of a better word - with the love pentagon between Linden-Rose-Rhine-Cecily-Jenna, which is definitely an interesting twist. While the concept of Linden having three/four wives and Rhine forming relationships with her sister wives disgusted me, it was definitely an interesting dynamic that DeStefano explored that I really haven't read about in other young adult novels.
The excitement level in Wither was subpar for a dystopian novel, and again Wither focused heavily on the romance element. But even then, it was still an interesting enough read to remain entertaining the entire way through as the characters develop into more than just one dimensional shells, and the relationships they all develop with each other are increasingly dynamic and interesting. With the way that Wither ended, I wonder if the second novel in the series will be able to hold onto what made this one enjoyable, though it opens up the possibilities of other plot elements that could make up for the elements that might not carry over.