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Wither by Lauren DeStefano; Review

December 31, 2010

Title: Wither

Author: Lauren DeStefano

Published: March 22nd, 2011

Number of Pages: 368

Rating: 5/5

Official Review:

With a premise that is extraordinary and unique, particularly among YA literature, Wither stands out on the shelf. However, it’s not until one picks it up and reads that one realizes what a mind-boggling, intriguing treasure it is. Rhine’s story is of love, both voluntary and not, hate, confusion, and passion. I was swept away in her world, her predicament, her feelings and worries. There’s no doubt that Wither wowed me – and there’s no doubt it will hypnotize many others.

Synopsis:

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left. [From Goodreads]

Review:

What a ridiculously original and intriguing book! The premise itself is… unique and disturbing, but indubitably irresistible. I am so very, very grateful the opportunity to read an ARC (as were a friend of mine and her sister…).

Here’s the deal, this book is so fantastically interesting that I can hardly imagine anyone being able to put it down easily. The idea is simultaneously horrifying and surreal (in a, um, nightmarish way). Even during the slower parts of the book, I was desperate to know how the story would unfold – or if it even could. The darned thing was so twisted, and my feelings toward actions, characters, and what I hoped would happen were all over the place. I knew what I should feel, and it tended to be at odds with what was actually running through my head. This book makes your mind reel.

Rhine (first of all, what a stellar name!) is an ideal main character. Nonirritating, thoughtful, loving, naturally worried but not constantly overanxious, smart, clever, funny, and full of weaknesses that show that, not only is she human, but she has a beating heart just like the rest of us. Her confusion mirrored my own. Her fears and needs and wants were just what you’d expect, and her actions were all in character. Ultimately, though, the thing that made her awesome was that she could see beneath people’s skins, forgive them or dislike them, but treat them as they deserved – not necessarily as she wanted to treat them. I loved that despite everything, her visions and opinions weren’t always set in stone, but willing to change should change be necessary. She wasn’t too obstinate or inflexible. She gave second chances.

The other wives are fascinating as well. The dynamics of their situation are certainly unusual, but to them it’s surprisingly… unsurprising. Each one of them has a different take on the situation, their new home, and, for that matter, their new husband. The bond the wives share is one I think all girls or women can relate to. They are the most strong as a group, they work off each others’ energies, thoughts, and strength. They rely on each other as I would guess sisters do (I don’t have one). Essentially, it was a both a touching and heart-wrenching element of the novel.

Linden – the husband – is an incredible character! I never knew what to think of him. With every moment we spent with him, with every comment made by any of the characters regarding him, my opinion changed. Originally, his name made me cringe. He was evil. He was sick. Yet, as his character was revealed I came to “enjoy his company” and yearn to learn more about him. I can’t say anything more without giving too much away!

Gabriel is another key factor in the novel (of course). Though I thought he was sweet and learned to respect him, and though I was excited whenever he made an appearance in the book, I never felt close to him. I never quite felt like I had fallen in love with him – which is a bummer. Interestingly, I thought it was Rhine’s relationship with Linden that developed more and was the more intriguing of the two. I was far more anxious and excited when Linden entered the room.

The atmosphere was fascinating, as it was a mix of the present, future, and past. There were things that we definitely have not achieved technologically as of yet, but the society seemed to be very 1920s-like. I loved living in the world of this book for a short while (I read it way too quickly!), despite the fact that it’s horrifying. There were simply so many characters, settings, plot and character twists, and things to admire about this novel that I cannot wait for the sequel!

Ultimately, Wither is an astounding debut novel with incredible situations, moving scenes, terrific writing, and fascinating characters. I foresee many positive reviews in its future, as it is mystifying.

Thanks, so, so, much to Simon & Schuster for the ARC!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2015 7:10 AM

    Loved this book trilogy SO much… have you read Perfect Ruin? I really need to soon…. 🙂

  2. December 31, 2010 5:28 PM

    I’m so conflicted with this book! I want to read it, but a little sketchy because of the premise. (I just don’t buy the whole dying young thing–it freaks me out a bit.) I have it marked to-read on Goodreads, so who knows if I’ll actually pick up a copy, but if there is enough positive reviews raving about it, I may just pick it up!

    • January 1, 2011 12:26 PM

      It’s definitely freaky, and I promise you that the book is disturbing. I actually found the polygamous marriage thing to be the most disturbing of all the elements, even more so than the early deaths.

      I’d still recommend it. 😀

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