I think I big congratulations are due to Lauren DeStefano for the release tomorrow of WITHER, the first installment of the Chemical Garden series. So in honor of her debut, I'm posting my review today, a day early, technically. Although, it's already been spotted out there in the wild world. So, without further ado...
WITHER by Lauren DeStefano:
What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Plot: This woman knows how to start a story off with a bang. She knows how to start the story off with action, and keeps it up. Within the first 20 pages, I was hooked. Hard. DeStephano starts the story with Rhine in a van, thinking she's going to die. Instead she's chosen to be "saved," becoming the wife of a man she doesn't know. There is genuine tension built through the entire story as Rhine tries to think of a way out of her prison. The only downside for me was an ending that seemed a little too easy, but that could just be because I really wanted more time with the characters.
Writing: DeStephano doesn't waste time explaining things off the bat. She lets everything happen and then comes back to the explanations, mastering the idea of starting with action in the heart of the story. Her descriptions of a world where everything is beautiful but fake are fantastic. The dialog she created is realistic, but not boring. I felt a lot of the book was written in montages, as the time passed in this novel. They were extremely well done, but there were a few of them. Understandable with this story.
Characters: I love her characters. Each is unique and well-rounded. Rhine is a good main character. She's a war with herself for her want of leaving her prison and reuniting with her twin Brother, but she feels a connection to her sister wives, has quickly developed a friendship with one of the servants and is beginning to understand her husband, Linden.
Rhine's sister wives, Rose, Jenna and Cecily, are each different. They stand out as their own people in my mind, vivid, well-rounded. They each have their own back stories and personalities. I'm impressed by how well-written they were, for just being side characters. Gabriel seemed a little washed out to begin with, but it's quickly resolved when realizing, as a servant, he's losing himself in his prison.
Linden should be a bad guy being that Rhine and the others were forced to marry him, but he is quickly painted as innocent and more a product of upbringing than of malice. His father though, is painted as the true villain of the story. And boy does he act like it. Not in an over-the-top way, but in a way that is totally plausible and therefore all the more creepy. When I think about him, I still get chills down my spine.
Cover: This is a gorgeous cover, is it not? From the green tint, which fits in perfectly with the idea of false fauna, to the little bird in the cage, as they are all in a type of prison. The line and circle designs are beautiful and go inside to the pages, creating a very polished and finished product. And it's just gorgeous.
Overall: I enjoyed this book, so I'm giving WITHER four of five stars. This was one of those books that I couldn't wait to pick up again. And for a busy person, that's a giant compliment. The themes and the creation of the world alone are stunning. I can't wait to read more. I'm definitely picking up the second one. So you should run and get this one.
Lauren DeStefano: Goodreads I Website I Twitter