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I love mustelid haberdashery, vinho verde wine, and wensleydale with fruit.


Wither (Chemical Garden) - Lauren DeStefano

This is, without a doubt, the worst book I've read so far this year, and one of the worst books I've ever read.


I picked this one up because of my dystopian junky needs, and because it involves gender issues, which is another subject I like to explore in literature.


The premise is this:   Citizens of the US have found a way to cure just about everything and live a really, really long life.  However, this first generation of living awesomeness has some sort of price:  all of their children, and the generations coming seem to die at a really young age:  Women at exactly 20 and men at exactly 25... From a virus? (whut?)

Rhine is a 16 year old girl who is kidnapped to be a wife to a rich 20 year old "governor" whose father is some sort of evil mad-scientist who will go to whatever lengths necessary to keep his son happy and clueless and tries to find a cure.

In the meantime, Rhine is dealing with this forced marriage and relationship with her new husband as well as her new-sister wives.   And then she runs away with the help.  Fin.


If you want good dystopia involving women's/gender issues, class issues and crazy ass viruses, there are a lot of better books out there (most notably: The Handmaid's Tale).

My litany of complaints:
First off, whatever little bit of "science" that's in the book is completely insane.   The author clearly never even had a basic high school bio class.   The Virus makes no sense, activating a virus on a certain birth day makes no sense.  Finding a "cure" makes no sense.   And there is a hint of anti-science bullshit going on in here.

The world building:  There is none.  What little there is makes NO SENSE.   The world went through some sort of nuclear war and yet New York City is perfectly AOK.  Also, the polar caps melted, sea waters rose, and yet Manhattan hasn't suffered a bit, in fact, neither has Florida or any at-sea-level areas.  Disasters everywhere that make life SO difficult, and yet, nothing, physically, seems to be an issue.  No sense, what-so-ever.


Characterization:  The characters are all flat, cardboard cut outs.  They're ridiculously one note.  Our MarySue main character is special *and* perfect (she's even nice to the servants, yo!).   She's even a virgin (though married) through the whole book, because all of the non-virgins are bad or dead.   There's even a bratty-brat, and a hooker with a heart of gold.  The bad guy, is in fact, a mustache-twirling evil mad-scientist.   There is no subtlety, everyone, and their actions, are anvils TO THE FACE.  The "help" shows up to set up the YA-required "love triangle," but there's not an ounce of chemistry between the main Mary-Sue nor anyone else.


There's nothing in this book to recommend itself.  The actual writing is very puerile, and not in a "it's written for the YA crowd" or "expressing a younger viewpoint" good kind of puerile, but just weak.  

This book was painful from beginning to end.  I read a little regarding the rest of the trilogy, and apparently, there is nothing to recommend going any further (in fact, it seems to get progressively worse).

So wow.

The only thing that I found entertaining was that I listened to the  audiobook, and the reader, when she was reading certain characters sounded exactly like Lin from Spirited Away, which as hilarious.