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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Chemical Gardens Trilogy: Wither by Lauren Destefano

Hi there readers!
How are you so far this week?  Good I hope.  If not, I’m about to make your reading day a bit better at least.  Yep.  How can I be so certain?  Well, nothing is certain but let’s just say that I’ve got a pretty good feeling about it.  Sound good?  Alrighty then.

Today’s featured title has been seen around the blogosphere a lot recently.  No wait, scratch that.  It’s been seen around the blogosphere A LOT (that’s better) recently…and with good reason.  Not only is it a book that begs no demands to be discussed, it does so in a most unobtrusive way…leaving you in that wonderful dazed world that readers don’t find as often as they might like called “What-On-Earth-Can-I-Follow-This-Book-Of-Awesome-Up-With-Next”.  (Hmm, if I didn’t know any better perhaps we don’t find this place frequently due to the hugely long name it carries, but I do know better so we shall move on, okay?  Good.  ^_^)  It’s a dazed sort of place admittedly but one that is filled with moments of reflection to while the time away.  *le SIGH*

Shall I tell you the book of which I speak?  Oh come on…it’s also celebrating its book birthday today so it’s the perfect time to tell you!  Yes?  Yay!  Here we go.  Today’s bookish birthday celebration and book of choice is….

The Chemical Gardens Trilogy:

Scientists have finally done it.  They’ve discovered a way to put an end to all those pesky incurable diseases that were ending lives before they had truly begun.  Score one for science.  The First Generations, as they are called, are living the life and to a ripe old age at that.  Not a care in the world…until it all came crashing down in a blow from Nature they never saw coming.  Where their lifespan has been increased exponentially, that of their children’s has been cut short; leaving males to reach the age of 25 years and females…a mere 20 years.  With the human races very existence on the line, drastic measures have been taken to ensure extinction is not out final legacy…but at what cost?  How much more are we willing to pay in order to see another tomorrow?  Willing?  Who said anything about “willing”…

There is oh so much to say about this one (yep, prepare for fan-girlish moments once again) and yet I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, so I’ll try to be brief.  (Hey, no snickering…I said TRY…)  I love the quiet power the runs like an electrical current just beneath the surface of this book.  The times, the struggles, the triumphs and failures, all seem completely tangible as are the emotions…and boy are there a lot of those running around.  Take the opening scenes when the girls are being sorted through like so many cattle.  Those “chosen” are saved from a dreadful immediate end, but they are also merely forgoing the inevitable and have to live with the guilt of knowing what happened to the other girls even though it was hardly any fault of their own.  It’s dark.  It’s simple.  It’s intense.

Flash ahead to the relationship that Rhine, Cecily and Jenna (the “sister” wives) have whilst living in Governor Linden’s (or should I say Housemaster Vaughn’s) mansion.  They may be young girls of sixteen, thirteen, and eighteen respectively, but they are forced to grow up in ways no child (or young adult) of their years should by society and science.  Stay a child, youthful and innocent, and pass away at the age of twenty having accomplished little “memorable” in your time.  Face the world as an adult, as thirteen is the new thirty, and see things through eyes jaded by events and the passing of time with the understanding of what’s trying to be prevented as well as accomplished.  Hardly a choice really… 

Perhaps the best part of the book isn’t in the events themselves, though they are enchanting in their own dark ways, but the characters.  Rhine was a wonderful voice to listen to and learn from as she strived to not fall under the influence of the wealth and beauty surrounding her.  I love that despite being strong though, she has weakness and it seeps through from time to time after all, she’s only sixteen; who wasn’t swayed by a pretty face or happenstance glance at that age (or even now)?  Cecily, while somewhat willingly thrown into this “adult” world, she is still the youngest of the “sisters” and it clearly shows in her actions, late realizations, and innocence however fleeting.  Jenna being the eldest of the three chosen girls has a year or two of wisdom on her “sisters” and her commitment to remembering how they arrived there (along with her contempt of the same) was honorable, but no one could fault her decision to accept some things with grace.

Governor Linden may be the “master” of his household and husband to three wives but the author puts it plainly…he is as much a prisoner as the girls, even if it’s not plain to see.  Perhaps its better that way for him, though I wonder if he’ll ever see the truth hidden before his eyes.  As for the quietly malicious Housemaster Vaughn, I can only provide a reaction…. ~shudder~.  He’s one you see but never REALLY see (…read the book and you’ll know what I mean).  Gabriel on the other hand is as much a surprise as anyone else and the attention to his character that the author pays in his creation is refreshing.  There is of course a reason for this…but you’ll discover that later on... (Hehe, yep, I’m being cryptic…what?). 

After I finished reading through the book, it finally dawned on me.  What?  No, not the sun…it was actually night time when I finished reading, thank you…but the writing style and story structure kept reminding me of something that for the life of me I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  (Don’t ya just hate it when that happens?)  Finally at story’s end, I closed the book and found my “eureka” moment…Matched.  That was the book that my brain had been trying to conjure.  The way the story builds gradually, quietly sinking it’s little white paper teeth into your subconscious so that before you know it, you’re one with the story and desperate to see how things end up.  Really!  Take a look at a barebones breakdown type comparison. 

§         Society (especially those in positions of power) thinks they know best and tries to control all
§         Efforts to control everything bring about disastrous results
§         People are led to believe there is only one way out…do as their told

See?  They both deal in stories about a time not so far from our own in which we could realistically exist (notice I said “exist” because really, a life without thinking or true choices, not so certain I’d sign up for it…just don’t ask me that on a day when I’m really stressed out….) and where despite our love of advancement, it turns out not all things are meant to progress, at least at the speeds we want them to.  Oh progress…you are a double edged sword if ever there was one.

All in all, a great read…but I think from the review, you probably gathered that I’d say that here.  A great start to what I can only presume will be a wonderful series and one that will be on my wish list ‘til it reaches its final installment.  Recommended read for middle to older teens (simply due to guidance on the content…nothing graphic or language wise) through adults.  If you are a fan of the YA genre and characters for which you can truly feel a connection to, this one is certainly for you (and me!).  This is one book that you’ll want to clear your day to read because even with my erratic and limited reading time, I finished it in 3 sittings which equates to about six hours.  (It’s really good…did I mention that?)  Take a step into the world of tomorrow, today for a glimpse at what could happen if science forgets to take one step at a time along on the road of progress. 

Anxious to learn more about this one as soon as possible?  No worries.  I’ve got you covered…or rather the publisher does.  Check out the book trailer below for a glimpse at what awaits…

Still not enough?  Believe me, I don’t blame you if it isn’t…it is that good after all.  For a quick read through, check out the Chapter One excerpt online, but I must warn you…I can not be held responsible if you develop a sudden urge to visit a bookstore near you.  Proceed with caution…or at least with a means of transportation and fund-age nearby. 

ARC for review received courtesy of Lucille at Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing (who always, even without any prompting on my part, knows exactly what upcoming titles to direct my way to satisfy my insatiable reading habits).  (THANKS!!)  For more information regarding this new release as well as the publisher’s full catalog of bookish goodness, feel free to visit their website or follow along on Twitter.  For more information on the author on her current happenings, check out her website, blog, Facebook page, or follow along on Twitter.  (Gotta love that little blue bird.) 

Until next time…happy reading!


Misha said...

I just love the premise of Wither! I am dying to get my hands on the book :) Your review has made me even more excited to read the book. Thanks!

Vanessa said...

I liked this one, too. The premise is interesting, and felt very possible to me. While I loved the exploration of the sister wife dynamic, I also sorta wished there was a little more action.

Felicity Grace Terry said...

Thank you for another thorough review - the second one I have read today, this is the link for the other if you are interested.

Gina said...

Misha: Yay for fellow excitable readers! ^_^ *high five*

NotNessie: Agreed on the premise...scary but true. I can understand your need for more action....there was a lot of that comment with MATCHED as well. For me, I think that's what gives this book it's added beauty. The ability to capitivate an audience WITHOUT tons of action. Glad you liked it though! ^_^

Gina said...

Petty Witter: No problem! LOL. Yes, I'm certain you'll see a lot of them today what with the book release. Thanks for the link....will have to check it out. ^_^

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

I love that glitter graphic at the top. Great comparison. It never dawned on me

Lisa said...

Great review! I've been waiting impatiently to read this book. The whole concept sounds fantastic and just different enough to be especially interesting.

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Sounds amazing! I'll definitely have to put it on my list. :)

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Hi! I'm the one from Petty's link! ;)

Oh I do agree with what you said on my comments section... I don't think that they are done with the characters at all. I was just frustrated that they didn't go that extra mile to make it truly creepy. It seems as if it was just at the line but didn't quite make it over to where I would have just loved it. I didn't hate it in the least... just was frustrated that it didn't go that extra inch into true horror. I see the creepiness factor for you as you say that it could happen. That is also why I liked it. As I keep saying... just wanted them to push the envelope a bit more. Oh, I did like it, just didn't love this book. I will read the others as I need to know what will happen! I have to know! :D

Oh and feel free to disagree with me anytime! I love discourse! ;)

Tales of Whimsy said...

Awesome review :)

The1stdaughter said...

LOVED your review! I think you basically said all the things I completely forgot to say in my review. Could we just mash them together somehow? LOL

Such a great book and I think the action aspect of it will be ratcheted up as the series progresses. I cannot wait for the next two in the series, this one was just phenomenal!

Lovely job as usual! :o)

April said...

"I love the quiet power the runs like an electrical current just beneath the surface of this book."

I LOVED this amazing line from your review!!! Gorgeous. I have seen this around a lot and wanted to read it, now, thanks to you, I am going to have to get my hands on a copy sooner, rather than later! Geez, girl, you are dangerous to my teetering TBR mountain!! lol

Awesome review and post!!!

Gina said...

Liz: Only hit me after I leasst full force. ^_^

Lisa: Thanks...and yes, my thoughts exactly. It's only one of a handful among the YA book crowd....

Dorothy: *high five*

Melissa: Hi there, nice to make your acquaintance. ^_^ I definitely understand your points and look forward to "agreeing to dsiagree" on the future installments! LOL. Seriously, feel free to stop by the blog any time. Discussions are what the comments were made for! ^_^

Juju: Thanks Juju! ^_^

the1stdaughter: Really? Well that's no surprise I suppose....LOL. Agreed on the action, I think we'll be surprised in the coming books by that part. Off to check out your review...thanks for the kind words! ^_^

April: Aw, thanks April! It just felt right when I was thinking about the book. LOL on adding to your TBR mountain...~whispers~ HAHA! My evil plan is working! Soon TBR stacks all over the reading world will be toppling over thanks to new suggestions! muwhahahaha! (^_^)
Thanks for the kind words!

Tribute Books said...

After reading your review, I went over to my library's web site to place a hold on the book, but unfortunately it's not yet in their catalog. I'll keep checking back.

Gina said...

Tribute Books: Yay! *high five* Really, I think you'll like scratch that, maybe even LOVE it. ^_^

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