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Wither

by DeStefano, Lauren

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-In the near future, genetic engineering has given a single generation freedom from all physical ills and a long life, but something claims the lives of successive generations as women reach 20 and men reach 25. Many of the first generation and their offspring are fabulously wealthy, but the rest of the population struggles for a living. Rhine Ellery is 16 when she is kidnapped from Manhattan and selected as a bride for Linden Ashby, along with 18-year-old Jenna and 13-year-old Cecily. Jenna seems to be resigned to her existence and naive Cecily is delighted by her situation, but Rhine is determined to escape from her "husband" and his mansion in Florida to return north to her twin brother, Rowan. She finds an ally and love interest in Gabriel, a servant who is as much a prisoner as Rhine. Linden's father, Vaughn, is the true power in the house, controlling his son through disinformation and the "brides" through fear and lies. Vaughn conducts research in the mansion's basement, searching for a cure, but Rhine and Jenna suspect something sinister behind his supposed altruism. As time goes by, Rhine begins to soften toward Linden, who proves to be gentle and artistic, but her determination to escape never wavers. She proves herself to be a heroine who faces her situation with spirit and cleverness. The trapped bride and mysterious husband are straight out of Gothic romances. By stirring in elements of sheer creepiness with dystopia and the hot topic of polygamy, DeStafano creates a story that should have broad appeal.-Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list When scientists engineered genetically perfect children, everyone thought it would ensure the future of the human race. Though the first generation is nearly immortal, a virus causes all successive generations to die early: age 20 for women, 25 for men. Now, girls are kidnapped for brothels or polygamous marriages to breed children. Rhine is taken from her hardscrabble life and sold with two other girls to Linden Ashby. Though they live in a palatial Florida home surrounded by gardens and treated like royalty, the girls are sequestered from the outside world, and Rhine longs to escape. Her growing affection for her sister wives, her pity for Linden, and her fear of Housemaster Vaughn, Linden's manipulative father, keep her uncomfortably docile until she falls for servant Gabriel. This character-driven dystopia, more thoughtful than thrilling, sets up an arresting premise that succeeds because of Rhine's poignant, conflicted narrative and DeStefano's evocative prose. Many will appreciate the intense character drama; however, the world building is underdeveloped, with holes in internal logic.Still, this first title in the Chemical Garden Trilogy will surely be popular.--Hutley, Krista Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Opening the Chemical Garden trilogy, DeStefano's harrowing debut initially comes across as The Handmaid's Tale for YA readers. DeStefano, however, forgoes larger social analysis to depict the personal impact of a dystopian future on Rhine and Gabriel, teenagers with a handful of years to live. Science gave 21st-century America one generation of perfect babies; since then, war has destroyed the other continents, and a virus that kills girls by 20 and boys by 25 has ravaged subsequent generations. Healthy teenage girls are prized as breeding stock, and Rhine is kidnapped and forced into a polygamous marriage with the wealthy Linden Ashby, in whose palatial Florida home Gabriel is a servant. Pampered but imprisoned, Rhine only wants to get back to her twin brother, Rowan, in gritty Manhattan. And as Gabriel's furtive relationship with Rhine grows, he begins to share her dream of escape. DeStefano has an observant and occasionally pitiless eye, chronicling the cruelties, mercies, and inconsistencies of her young characters. The larger world is less precisely realized; it will be intriguing to see how DeStefano develops it as this promising trilogy progresses. Ages 14-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-In the near future, genetic engineering has given one generation long life, but successive generations die as women reach age 20 and men reach 25. Sixteen-year-old Rhine is kidnapped to be a bride for wealthy Linden Ashby, but she is determined to escape from her "husband" and his sinister father. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

 

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