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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book Review: Wither

Author: Lauren DeStefano
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Pages: 368
Read it in: 1 day

The Hook: What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Summary: Thanks to modern medicine, every newborn 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 she is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

LC's Take:  

OMG, I don't even know where to begin. This book was INCREDIBLE! I read Wither in one day, I just could not put it down. Lauren DeStafano's ability to create a dystopian world and tell the story of a young girl trapped in that world was absolutely mind-blowing.

From the opening quote by T.S. Eliot to the disturbingly nightmarish first chapter to the last pages that bring you some glimmer of hope, this was one of those books you just can't help but be consumed by. Sometime in the not too distant future, Rhine Ellery is a 16 year old girl who lives in a world where females only make it to age 20 and males to age 25. A few generations back, geneticists had tried to create embryos that were immune to all disease and practically immortal, but in the process they introduced some kind of DNA into the genetic make-up that turns humans into ticking time bombs-- everyone now knows the age they will die. In an attempt to save the human race, girls as young as 13 are kidnapped by Gatherers to either be sold into polygamous marriages in order to breed more offspring, or to be killed. Rhine ends up being one of the "lucky" ones and enters into a world of wealth and privilege as one of the the three wives of Linden Ashby. Now she is surrounded by beauty, parties, and luxury-- but right under the surface, they are all closely followed by inevitable death and decay.

I listened to the interview Lauren DeStefano gave after reading Wither, and she says that the main theme of this book is uncertainty. She tells the story in present-tense because Rhine herself has no idea from one day to the next what is going to happen to her, or even if she'll be alive by the last page. It was this sense of uncertainty that had me totally captivated from beginning to end.

For me, Wither was not only completely engrossing, giving me a beautifully tragic story of a dystopian world, but it was intelligent as well. First, the author actually takes the time to tell you how the world got to be where it is, which I think is essential for any dystopian novel  if it's going to be believable for the reader. Given the background, I could actually imagine this world. Second, the novel brings up some really deep questions. For me, I found myself thinking: is it better to be free and live in grinding poverty, or is it better to be held captive in the lap of luxury? Rhine finds herself in a "gilded cage," and only wants to get out to go back home to her brother, but even she sometimes questions: is it really so bad being enslaved when you're given almost everything you could possible want? What if you only had 4 years left to live? Is it really worth fighting for the things you value the most?

My recommendation? Go out and get this book immediately! I was absolutely blown away. The writing is  beautiful. The plot balances both light and dark elements, and you can't help but be sucked into the dark eeriness that pervades Rhine's world where beauty and decay, and youth and death are so closely linked. Finally, the ending leaves you with some hope that life is going to be restored to the way it was, and you can't help but want more. I give Lauren DeStefano a standing ovation for this debut novel, and can't wait for the next book in her Chemical Garden Trilogy!! 

LC's Rating: 
AMAZING. Beautifully tragic, dark and suspenseful, I could not put Wither down. If you are looking for a book that is both well-written and intelligent, this is one book you are going to LOVE!


I also wanted to include here the trailer for the book and the short interview with Lauren DeStefano, just to entice you a little bit more into reading this book ;)

Happy reading everyone!!



  1. I've heard so many good things about this book, I think I'll have to add it to my TBR list!

  2. Awesome review, Lea! I got this book in my mailbox this week, and can't wait to read it! I wish I could just drop everything and start reading right now, but man, I have so many ARC's to review this month! T_T

  3. I also read Wither and loved it! Awesome review! I too was uncertain what choice I would make if I knew I only had four years left to live. Although living in comfort as a Bride has its perks, I don't know if I could endure the feeling of being caged.
    PS I love your blog! :)

  4. I haven't seen a bad review of this book yet. It is definitely on my wish list!!!

    The cover is really great.


  5. Larissa~ This is definitely a good one to add to the TBR list :)

    Evie~ Thanks! Oh yeah, I recommend dropping everything to read it right now haha, just kidding! I think that you will enjoy it when you get to it though!

    Natalie~ Thanks for stopping by and following! And glad you liked the review- I really like the questions that were brought up in this book, and it's difficult to even think about having only 20 years to live. I just love it when a book makes you stop and think about what things would be like in another time/place and what you would do in that situation...

    Jules~ I was actually kind of shocked/ticked off at all the reviewers bashing this book on Goodreads-- and half of their arguments didn't even make any sense, I don't even think they read it! Also, YES the cover is gorgeous, but wait until you open the book and realize that the entire book was beautifully designed-- even the page with the publication info was impressive!

    Thanks for the comments lovely ladies! Have a great day :)

  6. Great blog Lea!! Yours is so pretty too! I have this one waiting on my shelf. I'm glad you like it!! Can't wait to pick it up =)

  7. So happy you enjoyed Wither! i have to ask; Linden or Gabriel? I'm more of a linden girl. idk why, *spoiler* but I would have loved for Rhine to have told Linden the truth! alas.... :)haha! either way, great review! thanks for sharing your thoughts!


  8. Great review! I too love this book! I think the plot and characters were amazing!

  9. Great review. I'm on the waiting list for this one at my library and now I'm really excited to read it. I'm loving dystopian books right now, so I'm happy to hear that this is a smart one. :)

  10. Chelsey~ Thank you! I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did :)

    Diana~ Hmm... I'm going to have to go with Gabriel just because he wasn't *spoiler* "doing stuff" with the other wives haha. Also, for a guy, he was too weak for me. Glad you liked the review, I can't wait to get the second book :)

    Savannah~ The plot absolutely had me hooked from beginning to end, and I thought the author did a really good job of fleshing out all three of the sister-wives. Glad you liked it too!

    Kathy~ Funny story: since I work for the city library branches, I checked the database almost every day I was working to see if Wither had come in yet, and as soon as I found out it was there, I called over immediately to have them set the book aside for me-- one of the perks of the job! I hope you liked it when you get it :)

  11. Great Review! I am really looking forward to reading this one. I just have to read a few more books off my TBR list.

    Erika @ Let's talk about books

  12. Lea- I just finished reading this book too! I loved it!! I haven't read any negative reviews, and I'm kind of surprised! It definitely was a unique dystopian book with amazing characters! I can't wait till the next book! :)

  13. Wow, you wrote a great review you know.
    I have Wither in my tbr pile for a while but it's just sitting there collecting dust cos i'm a bit wary with all the critics about the world-building.
    Your review makes me want to give it a chance.

  14. ☆☆I boughy Wither as an e book I have seen pics of it & wanna get it in hc/pb, it is a keeper.
    I am a new follower & grabbed ur button.
    I began reading last night a bit leery of doing a review but luckily I have only read 2 on this book to prevent tainting.
    Stop by and say hi I know ur busy so I understand if u cant ツ

  15. Great review! Thanks so much for sharing the interview! I loved the book as well ! That's really interesting how uncertainty is the main theme and how she wrote it in present tense because of it. I get it now :) My only criticism with the book is that most of it takes place in the mansion and I just wanted her to escape so many times! I'm pretty excited for Fever though. Love it :)


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