Movie News: Wither and The Chemical Garden Trilogy

Lauren DeStefano is officially among a string of authors to have her books optioned to be a major motion picture. Prospect Park and Violet House Productions have acquired the rights to Wither, the first book in the Chemical Garden Trilogy.

Normally, I would be all “OH NO THEY DIDN’T!” especially with a book that I am so ridiculously in love with. But the recent success of The Hunger Games and the fact that, ya know, the movie is actually freaking awesome and not a disaster (see: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) has restored my faith in book-to-movie adaptations.

Obviously since they’re only discussing rights and whatnot it will be quite sometime before we can even begin to discuss possible casting or how they’re going to produce such a film. And, of course, there’s always the chance that the movie will slip through the cracks and will never actually be made (see: Looking for Alaska). Not that I’m rooting for that to happen! Provided they do it justice a la The Hunger Games, then I’d be ecstatic to see Wither come to the big screen.

Second Look: Fever (Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 2) by Lauren DeStefano

In an exciting turn of events, I was flabbergasted to learn that I won an advanced reader copy (ARC) of Fever by Lauren DeStefano!

You have to understand, I never win ANYTHING. I blame a series of losses in elementary school to my current (and possibly lifelong) run of bad luck. So, of course, when I received the email notifying me of my good fortune I nearly passed out from excitement.

SPOILER WARNING: If you have not read Wither (book 1 in the Chemical Garden Trilogy), you will encounter some spoilers from book 1 in this review. I apologize, but it’s simply unavoidable. I hereby solemnly swear not to reveal any spoilers from Fever. That’s not how I roll. That being said… on with the review!

The Story: Rhine and Gabriel have successfully escaped the mansion and Rhine’s villainous father-in-law, Housemaster Vaughn. However, as they make their way to Manhattan to track down Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan, Vaughn is looking for Rhine and will stop at nothing to bring her back. After they stumble into a brothel run by a psychotic first generation, they learn what life is like in the seedy scarlet districts, which neither of them will ever forget. From there, they’re led to an orphanage in New York which offers them a safe place to stay while Rhine searches for Rowan. Rhine wonders if she ever truly was out of Vaughn’s clutches, however, when she begins to exhibit violent symptoms of the life-ending virus a year early just like her sister-wife Jenna did.

The Low Down: When I read a planned trilogy, I always fear for Book 2. It seems that the second book only exists to get the reader to the epic conclusion in Book 3 (see: Catching Fire). Also, since I enjoyed Wither so much, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to potentially ruin it by continuing the series (see: Twilight). Thankfully, the Chemical Garden Trilogy is NOT one of those series. The plot of Fever has enough meat to stand on it’s own, and artfully continues the story the began in Wither. As for the storyline, it came together brilliantly. The ups and downs R & G experienced kept me on my toes, as I never knew who could be trusted. The conclusion was intense and satisfying and kept me reading well into the wee hours of the morning.

I only have two minor complains about Fever: 1) I found the parts in the brothel disturbing (which is actually a compliment to DeStefano’s writing) so the first 1/3 was tough for me to get through, and 2) I wasn’t totally feeling Rhine and Gabriel’s relationship. I love that they can finally show how much they care about each other, but it seemed forced and rushed to me. Despite that, R & G’s devotion to each other is apparent, and they way they stick together through everything is admirable and touching.

The thing that makes the story sing, however, is DeStefano’s writing style, plain and simple. She is a brilliant writer with a true gift for words and storytelling. I was absolutely entranced by her writing. Her descriptions are not lengthy, but still manage to speak volumes (for example: “There’s an empty can in the corner of the room, collecting drips from a blackened patch in the ceiling. One drop, then another, pieces of thoughts that never pool into anything substantial.”)

The Bottom Line: DeStefano has not failed me yet and her writing soars once again. The beginning of Fever was a little rough, but not enough to make me want to stop. It’s not just a bridge to book 3, and it definitely left me eager to read the next (and last) book in the series.

OFFICIAL RATING: 8/10

Fever will be released on February 21, 2012.

FTC Disclosure: I received my ARC of Fever by Lauren DeStefano for free from Goodreads First Reads. I was not given any form of payment or endorsement, nor was I kidnapped and held at gunpoint. Click here if you’d like to enter to win free books through Goodreads First Reads!

Second Look: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

My apologies.

My internet connection has been painfully slow and has been driving me CRAZY. So my routine has been to open a browser window, take a shower and do my hair while it loads, click “check mail”, make dinner while mailbox loads, open an email, eat dinner while email loads, read the aforementioned email… you get the idea. Hence the lack of posts lately.

BUT FEAR NOT! Because amid all this slowness, I was able to tear myself away from my computer and managed to do some reading… on with the reviewing!

PLOT:
Rhine Ellery lives in a post-apocalyptic world where science has made great genetic advancements. An entire generation of people is able to happily live without the threat of disease and ages slowly and gracefully. Unfortunately, all the children of this generation are not so lucky, as a virus kills all women at age 20 and men at 25.  When Rhine is kidnapped by the Gatherers to become a bride in a polygamous marriage, she is ripped from her twin brother and whisked to a luxurious, secluded mansion. She faces a life with her new husband, companionship with her two sister wives, and a sadistic father-in-law who is desperate to find a cure so his son will live past the age of 25. Since Rhine’s arrival at the mansion, all she wants is to escape and make her way back home to her brother. Now she has a decision to make: live the remaining four years of her life in luxury (or a facsimile of it), or attempt an escape with Gabriel, a servant she’s attracted to… and shouldn’t be.

CHARACTERS:
All DeStefano’s characters have a rich, emotional depth that make you to feel what they feel. Rhine is a smart, strong young woman. She knows how to take care of herself and manipulate a situation to her benefit when she needs to. Normally that’s not a trait I’d consider positive, but, given the circumstances, I’d say it’s commendable. She is terribly distraught after being separated from her twin, but manages to have the presence of mind to take care of her sister wives, and formulate the best plan for escape. Linden, her/their husband, is an odd character. He’s incredibly naive and sheltered, which is largely because of his domineering father, Housemaster Vaughn. I want to hate Linden for what he’s done to these girls, but I just feel sorry for him. Jenna, Sister Wife #1, is an awesome partner in crime. At 19, with only one year left to live, she’s got nothing to lose. She watches out for Rhine and supports her by laying some groundwork for some of Rhine’s stealthy schemes. Cecily, Sister Wife #2, is like everyone’s typical, annoying, 13-year-old little sister. That’s right. 13. Who is actually excited to be a child bride. Despite how aggravating she may be, she does have some redeeming qualities which shine through as the book progresses.

EXTRA GOODIES:

  • Wither just might shape your view of parenthood.  After the birth scene, it made me realize that the whole concept of motherhood kind of repulses me.
  • DeStefano’s writing is a treat all by itself, plain and simple.

OPINION:
The long and short of it is that Wither is an incredible book. Lauren DeStefano has a true gift for words and has managed to craft an amazing page turner. I fear the brain that spawned such a brilliant work of YA lit. She took a touchy subject (sister wives, polygamous camps with child brides, etc) that has been steadily gaining more and more national attention and gave it a uniquely creative twist. As for content, there’s not much violence or language at all. Among the wives, there’s talk of “consummating the marriage” and getting pregnant to perpetuate the human race, but DeStafano’s language is classy, and never immature or crude.

As icky as the thought is of being a polygamous child bride, there are positive messages that shine through. There’s no sense of rivalry or competition among the three girls and they manage to bond through their past and present experiences. They also rally around each other when they need to, despite still wanting to do what’s best for themselves. There are two very intense scenes, one dealing with the aforementioned birth and one with a death, that drive that point home.

What worries me about The Chemical Garden Trilogy? Most trilogies follow the same pattern: Book 1 kicks major ass, Book 2 is just a bridge to Book 3, and Book 3 either rocks a satisfying conclusion, or sucks so bad you weep for what should have been an awesome series (for those of us who hated Mockingjay, see: The Hunger Games). By itself, Wither would make a fine stand alone novel. I have a vague idea where DeStefano is going to take Fever (Book 2), but I think the series would be interesting if the next book focused on the POV of one of the other wives. But, then again, with her creative imagination, maybe she’ll surprise me.

OVERALL RATING: 9/10

Cover reveal! Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Lauren DeStefano painfully teased her Facebook fans by revealing the cover to Fever, the second book of the Chemical Garden Trilogy, piece by piece throughout the month of July. And it was well worth the wait:

I’ll say this… the covers to the books in this series are incredible. Though I may be giddy about it because I just finished Wither (review coming soon!)

Fever is set for release on February 21, 2012.