* I received this ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada
If you haven’t already; please check out my initial impressions of Wither that I wrote about 4 chapters in.
Lauren DeStefano has created a terrifying world, where at 16 a girl is considered an old maid, and no one expects to live beyond 25. Can you begin to imagine the social, economical and political repercussions of such a dramatically shorter life span that suddenly plagues what is left of the world? It’s an interesting (albeit terrifying) idea, and I’m pretty fascinated by the parts of the book that describe life outside the mansion that is essentially Rhine’s prison. It seems like I’ve been reading a lot of books where characters are in cushy prisons, with all the luxuries except freedom. Is this a commentary on our lifestyles? Slaves to our work so we can be wealthy and have no time to enjoy it? Just a thought, not that I’m anywhere near approaching wealth. I hope the other two books in the Chemical Garden Trilogy explore more of the consequences the dwindling population would have.
I began this story expecting to hate the man Rhine is forced to marry, and sure that the polygamy will make her experience as a reluctant bride even worse. Neither of these things ended up being true, DeStefano actually made Linden a surprisingly likeable character. He thoroughly flawed, but given his upbringing and circumstances a lot of his faults are understandable. He is shockingly gentle and patient, not the crude rapist I would have expected. His father is the one character who remains truly villainous in my eyes, but even his deplorable actions are working towards a goal he thinks is noble. I still think he is scum, but I like that he’s not just evil for the sake of evil as so many bad guys are in fiction.
The relationships formed between Linden’s four wives are intricate and intriguing. Although there is some competition between them, I think there is significantly less may be expected in a polygamous family due to the fact that none of them had a choice about marrying him. They bond as prisoners, as roommates and through the shared attention of their husband. Rhine bonds with each of her sister wives in a different way, and DeStefano did such a good job with this family dynamic that I might actually read more books with polygamy, not something I’d ever expected to enjoy reading about.
Rhine’s relationship with Gabriel is not as prominent in the plot as I anticipated. At first I was disappointed by this, but since neither is free to be themselves in the mansion, it makes sense that they would not have the opportunity to be together. I like that DeStefano didn’t take the easy way out, and make the captors more sloppy with security.
This was an enjoyable read, and I would recommend it for dystopian fans but my recommendation comes with the disclaimer that it contains, disturbing subjects, mature themes, polygamy, and sexually active minors, so parental discretion is advised.
Let’s talk cover-art shall we?
- The little circles on sticks design isn’t just cool-looking a futuristic, it draws your attention to certain areas of the cover and makes connections. Notice that her wedding ring is circled and connected to the caged bird? The bird clearly represents how Rhine is imprisoned by her marriage.
- The model is gorgeous and her frilly clothes do look like some of Deidre’s designs.
- the flowers on the back go well with my flower analysis (see my earlier post)
- I wish you could see her monochromatic eyes, because this feature is mentioned repeatedly in the book.
This book counts toward the debut author challenge.
I’m giving away a copy- enter the contest