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Review: Wither by Lauren Destefano

1 Sep

Series: The Chemical Garden #1

Published: March 22nd 2011 by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Details: Hardcover, 358 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

In a dystopian world where life span has been shortened to only 20-25 years of age, Rhine is married off to a wealthy guy to produce children. I loved the original concept, but quickly got bored when I noticed that the whole book took place within the house, and that nothing ever happened. The romance was non-existent and the characters underdeveloped. Won’t continue the series.

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A few chapters in:

This dystopian book by debut author Lauren Destefano created quite a stir when it the shelves earlier this year, receiving quite a few stunning reviews. Enough to peak my interest. It is also found at the top of my “next book to read” – poll. Thanks as always to all who voted!

And so, here I am a few chapters in:

As we enter the story, a couple of girls have been kidnapped, and 16-year old Rhine is one of them. She and two others are picked out and taken to a big mansion where preparations start to make all three of them wifes of the Governor Linden.

Meanwhile, we learn that genetic modifications of the human race has sucessfully cured cancer and other diseases. But now it has backfired, and created a uncurable virus, which kills men at the age of 25 and women at the age of 20. People desperate to find a cure kidnap young girls to be mated and experimented upon with young men.

Yes, this is truly a grim world. But intriguing, as I have absolutely no idea of what will happen (and you know how I love unpredictability in my books!). Rhine has just tried on her wedding dress for the first time, and is about to get married, along with the other two girls. Will she be able to escape? Will they find a cure?
 
 



 
 
After finishing the book:

Okay, so I’m gonna cut to the chase here: I did not like this book.

Surprising actually, because I thought I would, considering that favorite web sites such as yareads rated it 5/5.

Now, the reason why I disliked it, wasn’t because of the serious topics dealt with in this book. Topics such as polygamous marriages and a child brides. None of that shocked me. I’ve read and seen a bunch of books/movies far worse than that.

Nor did I care too much about the dystopian world not being sufficiently built up, like so many other reviewers have commented on. I did notice it, for instance that it seemed a bit strange that Rhine was able to roll around in silk, take bubble baths, and eat strawberries when supposedly the entire world (except the states) were lying below water. I also found it strange that when so many orphans were running around on the streets (given their parents’ premature deaths), there was still a need for “gatherers” to force girls to marriage rich men and produce babies. I mean, wouldn’t there be an abundance of orphaned girls willing to do this in exchange for food and shelter?

Yet, I can easily forget holes in a dystopian world if the story pulls me in, and this my friends, is where it fell short for me. Not the serious topics, nor the plot holes of the dystopian world, but the story itself.

You see, I found the story lacking. Rhine is taken into this house with her two sister wives, and forced into a marriage with Linden. Then what?

We learn that Linden is completely innocent (or naive) regarding how his three wives ended up in his house. His father is apparently the mean one. We are told repeatedly how that father is a huge threat, and yes, he is obviously not kind judging by the first chapter. Yet, we never actually see any proof of the supposed threat that he is, apart from the fact that he has this cellar where he performs dissections of bodies that have died in order to find a cure. Sorry, but that does not qualify as a big threat.

We learn that Rhine has a twin brother and is desperate to find a way out. Yet, I didn’t really see why she was so desperate. Sure, the house was a prison, but certainly a very comfortable one. Especially if compared to the harsh realities of the world outside. Linden is infatuated with her and grants her every wish, which makes me wonder: Why not just ask him to have her brother being brought there? Problem solved!

The whole book seemed to revolve around her wanting to escape, yet nothing ever happened. She would lie in bed, have a manicure, eat some strawberries, take a walk in the garden, lounge with her sister wives in the drawing-room, take a bubble bath, order some food and repeat the whole process again. Lie in bed, have a manicure, eat some strawberries…you get the idea.

It got so tedious after a while it took all my will power to keep going.

There is a tepid romance as well involving a staff-boy and Rhine, but seeing as he was absent for most part of the book, it was hard to care or feel anything for those two.

The only thing that I liked was the relationship that developed between the sister wives, and how they stood up for each other. The character that stood out the most was quiet Jenna. I liked her.

Other than that, it was just plain boring.

The sequel is called Fever, to be published in Feb 2012.

Review: Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

1 Sep

Series: Books of Faerie , book #1

Published: October 1st 2008 by Flux

Details: Paperback, 325 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

About gifted musician Deirdre who meets and falls in love with mysterious Luke, who may or may not be a one of the faeries who are after her. Too many plot holes, a romance that happened way too fast, a Mary Sue heroine and underdeveloped secondary characters made this a boring read. Only the writing was good.

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My Full Review:

Meh! That was my reaction after finishing this book. To be honest, I had a hard time finishing it since my mind kept wandering off as soon as I opened the book. Not a good sign at all.

Why?

A couple of reasons:

Firstly, the romance is of the “fall at first sight” kind, and geez am I getting tired of those type of romances. Deirdre falls head over heels with this outwordly guy Luke, who shows up out of thin air one day to play with her on a competition. All we know of Luke is that he is good-looking and seems to be hiding something. Not much to fall in love with if you ask me. He is of course also suggesting that it’s dangerous for her to be with him. He’s not good for her, yet he can’t help being drawn to her at the same time.

Now, where have we read this before? Yawn.

Secondly, Deirdre discovers that some faerie folk, or rather a very powerful faerie queen is after her. Why you’d ask? Well, Deirdre, it appears, has some serious powers herself, which is intimidating the queen.

Now, about those powers: I like when a heroine discovers her strengths and tests them out, but this got a bit too ridiculous. I mean, Deirdre’s powers were at first limited to some kind of telekinesis, such as move a leaf across the floor with her mind. Then suddenly, she could build walls around herself, create giant hands to push dangerous creatures away, outrun hounds, start cars from a distance, read minds and what not else. I mean seriously, it’s not much fun when the heroine is this “can do all” – girl. What’s the challenge in that? I’d rather the author would stick to just one supernatural power.

Thirdly, there were threads left hanging just about everywhere. Things happened for no reason at all, and much was left unexplained.

Beware of spoilers:

For instance, I never got the whole story behind the aunt and why she acted the way she did. And why were all the four-leaf clovers left for Deirdre to find? What was the point of that? And how come Deirdre had access to Luke’s memories when he wasn’t even there? What happened to Rye the dog and how was it involved in the whole thing? Most importantly, if the queen just wanted Deirdre killed, why not just get it over and done with instead of going through all her loved ones first?

End of spoilers

In short, a lot of what happened didn’t make much sense. Or rather, it felt like it happened because it was convenient for the plot at the time. I also never got a feel for the characters, and consequently never really cared what happened to either one of them.

The only redeeming quality about this book was the writing, which is shown in the well drawn descriptions of the faerie folk. Stiefvater sure knows how to write beautifully. It’s a shame that the rest fell flat.

There is a companion novel called Ballad, but this is the end of this faerie journey for me.