Monday, April 4, 2011

Chemical Garden - Book 1 - Wither

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I struggled through every step of this book but in the end could not say that I disliked it. I normally find that if a book is very good, even though I start out slow, the pace does pick up at some point. With Wither this never happened and in the end I found I finished the book as a result of stubborn curiosity, but truly it was a bittersweet experience.


Wither is set in a form of post apocalyptic society whom has through genetic experimentation caused an anomalous virus which mysteriously activates in children in their early twenties and causes them to die a very painful death. As the virus or illness is genetic, finding a cure is not nearly as easy as had initially though. As a result the populous is slowly dying out with the remaining scientist frantically struggling to find a cure. Some part of remaining populace (seems to be the more influential part) have established a practice of kidnapping young girls to enter into polygamous marriages with their children to make more children and to keep their families going. Rhine is one of a set of siblings surviving on their own after the deaths of their parent who has been kidnapped by "snatchers" and is being transported to an estate to become a wife of the estate master's weird son, Linden. The story then follows Rhyne as she befriends her sister wives, seemingly falls in love with Gabriel (a manservant in the estate) and becomes used to life on the estate whilst she plans her inevitable escape. That is the gist of the story and saying more would probably be to much of spoilery so I will leave it there for now.


Wither seems to have a bit of a beating pulse, those drumbeats that you always hear in the background music of horror movies. The book is dark and disturbing and none of the relationships which form in the book lightens its dark core. I actually liked this aspect of the book and found it strangely compelling in a sordid, melancholy kind of way. I liked the milieu, the world created by the author and I thought the characters and the world was described well.


Reading this book felt like walking through molasses… Instead of feeling my spirits lifting and becoming excited when I started reading and throughout the numerous times I stopped reading and started again a bit later, I felt depressed and moody. I simply could not connect with this book. This may merely be a personal observation but a dark and depressing book such as this, for me, surely must have some highlights that attract a reader and keeps you glued to the book, despite the dark storyline. I really did not find any in Wither. The relationships between the characters were not well explored and I really could not form any kind of attachment with any of them. Vaughn's sick and sadistic nature, instead of feeling like a part of the story, felt a bit like an afterthought to me. And heaven knows that this book did not need another love triangle… In my opinion the Rhyne-Linden relationship, be it Stockholm-like emotion or something more real, did not add to the story and merely made me feel more and more like a feminist whilst finishing this read.


I really did not get anything from this story except some wildly see-sawing emotions (mainly depression and anger). Although I appreciate the guts it takes to write such a dark story (and believe me I like dark stories), and I felt the writing was not too bad, I do not believe that I shall continue to follow this series.


I am not yet sure what the next instalment of this series is, but I will make sure to update this post when the information does come to my attention.

I would love to hear what you guys thought of this read. Please take the time to debate it with me a bit…



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