|Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy)|
I have mixed feelings about Wither. First of all, it is beautifully written. I loved the prose and the flow of the story. It painted a stark and vivid picture of a world that is struggling to survive. Due to some sort of drug malfunction in the previous generation, the current generation's life expectancy is at around age 20 for females and 25 for males.
The world itself is probably Wither's weakest point because it is so far-fetched as to be scientifically impossible. From the genetic engineering to the war that wiped out everything except North America, the world is implausible. However, this didn't kill the story for me, as a fan of fantasy, I am more than willing to give an author a great deal of creative license with their world building before I find it altogether too unrealistic to continue. I know that there are a lot of readers that will find this to be a huge issue for them though.
The premise of the book seems to be concerned with polygamy as a way to ensure procreation. It kind of reminded me of what I've read about historical Turkey and the harems. The girls are either sold or stolen from their homes and then given into a polygamous marriage to the highest bidder. They are then kept extremely confined yet catered to and pampered in every way. I found it odd that there would have been male servants allowed to care for these young girls. This would be a problem because, with healthy young girls all sharing a husband, it would be expected some would settle for the attention of a male servant. This is why, in the Turkish harems, the only males allowed into the women's living quarters were eunuchs.
The main character, Rhine, was not content with her place in this world. Stolen away from the twin brother she loved, all she wanted was to find a way out, a way back to him. I thought that, considering the fact that it could mean her very life if she were to be caught trying to escape, Rhine would have showed more discretion in the things she said and did. Her husband Linden was a dull and naive character, almost a non-entity as a character actually. And Rhine, herself, seemed to not really consider him as any kind of threat. His father was quite creepy, with his strange experiments in "the basement" supposedly trying to find a cure for this mysterious virus that killed everyone off so young. While he was definitely a sinister character, his motives were a bit too vague for him to completely work for me as the villain. I enjoyed reading about the other wives and how they interacted with one another. I would have liked to have learned more about them and their history.
There were many things that worked and didn't work for me in Wither. The writing itself is what shines the most, in my opinion. This is what kept me reading and why I feel certain that with each story this author writes, everything else will fall into place. I look forward to reading more from her.