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A Reader of Fictions: Real World - The All-American Rejects

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Real World - The All-American Rejects

Wither
The Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 1

Author: Lauren DeStefano
Pages: 358
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Brief Summary:
Rhine Ellery and her twin brother Rowan have been alone since their parents died. They work together to earn enough money to survive and to defend their house from orphans and Gatherers (men who collect young women to sell). Advances in science made it possible to make perfect babies, which was great. Until the generation after that engineered one all started dying. Boys live to 25 and girls only to 20. This is how things are in the United States, the only country left; all that remains besides the U.S. are sporadic islands.

When 16 year old Rhine is taken by a Gatherer and sold to be the wife of a House Governer. She is one of three new wives brought in to comfort him as his first wife succumbs to the virus that kills off all girls of a certain age. Rhine wants nothing more than to escape this place and find her twin brother again, but that certainly will not be easy.

Review:
Wither was really good but also incredibly frustrating. I literally yelled at the book on several occasions. My irritation at the book and Rhine's decisions are an indication of quality in this case. Were the book more comfortable, it would not be doing the subject matter justice. There are serious themes being dealt with here: sexuality, gender, ethics and stockholm syndrome top the bill.

The world building was pretty amazing. While DeStefano has no real scientific reason for why the succeeding generation were all dying off a virus at those particular ages, I did not have too much trouble believing such a thing possible. It seems likely that messing with life through genetic engineering could have such horrible and unforeseen consequences. Perhaps most unlikely from my point of view was the precision of the deaths, with all women and men dying at the same ages. And why do men live five years longer?

Even more than this setting, I loved what she built out from this premise. The world she depicts is horrifying because of how possible it seems given a few crucial things gone wrong. I have no difficulty envisioning a society with such a limited life span turning women into reproduction machines. A small step from that is a return to bigamy, so that wealthy men can have a better chance of fathering progeny, and a powerful sex trade. As a woman, this is horrifying, and that is part of what made the book resonate so strongly with me.

This is the first in a trilogy, which I will definitely be super eager to read the next books of. The ending of Wither could easily have been an ending to Rhine's story, if an unclear one (not uncommon in dystopias), but I'm glad that it's not. The ending of this book struck me as a bit too positive and light given the tone of the rest of the novel, but with more books to come it is but a brief respite for our heroine. I can't wait to find out what happens next!

Also, I have to say that this is one of the prettiest books I have seen in a while. The formatting is gorgeous, not to mention the cover. Go out and find a copy to read!

"I woke up on this side. I thought it was a dream
At first we learned to walk then learned to scream"

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5 Comments:

Blogger Heather said...

I kind of want to read this for the cover alone...haha

April 17, 2011 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Nori said...

I enjoyed this book too! Except what you thought was odd in a slightly happy ending, was what redeemed it for me. I can't stand books that are on continuous slopes downward with no hope, and the ending is what convinced me to keep reading when the next one comes out! And it really pretty!

April 17, 2011 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Sometimes I find it novel (punned!) to read a YA book where everything isn't all hunky dory at the end. Which is probably why I still liked Ascendant and you didn't really.

April 18, 2011 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Nori said...

There better be a third one of those books!!!!

April 19, 2011 at 12:37 AM  
Blogger Sarah Elizabeth said...

I have to say that I wondered why the men lived 5 years longer as well!
I've yet to read this book but it does seem a bit of a strange world in which it is set. Going to get round to reading this at some point :)

May 20, 2012 at 10:55 AM  

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