Author: Lauren DeStefano

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Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano (Chemical Garden #2)

February 24, 2012 Review 4 ★★★★★

Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano (Chemical Garden #2)Release Date: February 21, 2012
Title: Fever
Series: The Chemical Garden #2
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Pages: 235
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Owned
From the Publisher: Rhine and Gabriel may have escaped the beautiful prison of Wither’s mansion, but they are far from escaping danger. First they’re chased for stealing a getaway boat, and then the fleeing pair ends up in the eerie den of Madame, an old woman who collects girls and sells them to the highest bidders. Worst of all, Vaughn, Rhine’s sinister father-in-law, seems to be on her trail every step of the way. Rhine remains determined to get to her brother in Manhattan—but the road they are on is long and perilous.

Now that Rhine has finally regained her freedom, what lengths will she need to go to in order to keep it?
5 Stars

When I reviewed Wither, I struggled to give it a rating. There was no such struggle this time around. It’s not often that a second book is better than the first, but this is one occasion where it absolutely is. It didn’t read like a middle book to me. The writing is amazing and the visual imagery had me believing I was actually breathing ash in the air right alongside them.

This was a painful book to read. At every turn something went wrong for Rhine and Gabriel. It caused a physical ache in my chest just hoping that something good would happen (you’ll have to read the book to find out if it did).

This one is definitely much darker than the first, but I think it needs to be. Things always get worse before they get better – and I do have hope that things in this world will get better by the end of the series. It’s been alluded to several times, but I can’t imagine going through all of this – becoming so emotionally invested – for naught. And honestly, despite the dark and cruel nature of the story, it was always laced with hope. That’s what kept me going through the book and what has me dying to read the next installment.

Hope. Sometimes that’s all that keeps you going.

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Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano (Chemical Garden #1)

February 10, 2012 Review 9 ★★★★★

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano (Chemical Garden #1)Release Date: March 22, 2011
Title: Wither
Series: Chemical Garden #1
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Pages: 369
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Owned
From the Publisher: By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?
5 Stars

I really struggled with whether to give this one a 4 or a 5. The writing was amazing, the character development was incredible, and the plot was freshly original. Yet, I found myself able to set it down for long periods of time before I picked it up again (to be clear – “long periods of time” for me = an hour or two). By the end, I was very emotionally invested in Rhine, Gabriel, Linden, and even Cecily and her baby Bowen.

Lauren DeStefano’s mind must be a pretty incredible place. Dystopian novels are clearly the latest fad in YA, yet hers stands apart from the others, not even trying to be like every other book out there. There is, of course, the requisite love triangle (and let me stop for just a moment and say that I think Rhine absolutely should have told Linden the truth about everything that was going on). But while the dystopian nature of this society is certainly a large plot point, it’s the characters and relationships that they build with one another that drive the book. And to me, that’s a huge plus.

Wither certainly has a dark side. There’s death. And a lot of it. There’s deception and murder and threats. Kidnapping. Brute force. But Rhine always has hope, and it effects every person she comes into contact with. Rhine is the kind of person that little girls want to be like when they grow up (not circumstantially of course).

Bottom line? If you want a fresh take on a Dystopian society in a beautifully written book, pick up Wither.

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