Monday, February 13, 2012

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

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Lauren DeStefano
Release date: March 22nd, 2011
by Simon & Schuster

Goodreads / Purchase

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?

Dystopian societies- we’ve seen all kinds. From post apocalyptic hell on earth to life in plastic (yes, this is an Aqua reference >.<). In Wither we fall somewhere in the middle. While trying to cure cancer, society has caused the next generations to die from an unknown virus at 20 years of age for girls, 25 for guys. Is this concept intriguing? Definitely! Everyone has a fear of dying. Since most YA readers are approaching, or are over the age of 20, this world can easily be terrifying when we put ourselves in their shoes.

With such a short lifespan, the human race has gone into baby-making overdrive. Girls are being kidnapped, married off in polygamous marriages, forced to bare children as soon as they’re physically capable. I found this strangely fascinating; it’s not inconceivable. With all these new vaccines and diseases, who know what it will bring to our future generations. I do wish we would have delved deeper into the world building of Wither. How society lives in the bigger picture. For the duration of the book, we’re stuck inside a house with these characters, and like them, we don’t get to know what’s happening outside these walls. Thus, we only skim the surface of this new world while we wander around the mansion lost in thought. As a result, I felt it was very slow moving for the most part. I never found myself bored necessarily, but I wasn’t eagerly turning the pages either. The ending however, does promise a more exciting sequel that I’ve been told is much more fast pace. I’m still genuinely looking forward to continuing the series.

A big reason why I never lost interest during this slow-moving story is the easy to like characters inside this house. The three young wives quickly form strong bonds. Joy, worry, and heartbreak are clearly felt for each other and I couldn’t help but grow fond of their attachment. What also kept my interest was the ominous father-in-law who has dark secrets we’re slowly carving into. He’s controlling and vicious. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of him. 

While the other girls are occupied having babies and playing house, our protagonist, Rhine, finds solace in Gabriel, a house servant. I never exactly felt sparks between these two. However, I still found it to be a realistic, incredibly romantic relationship. I think they could grow to develop great chemistry, but since we see so little of him in Wither the passion so far is almost non-existent.

As a big fan of dystopians, Wither does not live up to the ones I’ve been devouring lately, but it still has an enticing, unique premise with definite potential to become much more exciting in the books to come. 

3 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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40 Responses to “Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano”

  1. Amy

    I am going to be reading this one soon. I was waiting to see what you thought before diving in. ( I mean I was going to read it either way, but I like to see your thoughts )Glad that you could get through it this time without being sick. I’m glad I read your review, so my expectations aren’t too high for it. There has been so much hype for Fever that I was just assuming that Wither was amazing. I will go into it without that “It’s going to blow me away” expectation now. Great review toots!

  2. Anna

    You know what, I’m sad you didn’t love this as much as I did. But I promise that Fever is WAY better, so hopefully you’ll love it more 🙂 It takes place outside, in the WORLD! Which is why I liked it more haha, no cooped up bitches.

    Anna @ Literary Exploration

  3. Giselle

    @Anna: Yes I finished Fever yesterday and I liked it better!

    @Natalia: Me too! I felt cooped up with the girls.

    @Amy: The reviews are very love/hate (I always have to be the exception and put mine in the middle haha), but you should give it a try especially if you love dystopians. It’s a slower pace but still interesting.

    @Amanda: I hope you like it! 🙂

  4. Lauren M

    Like you, I didn’t feel that Wither quite lived up to the hype. I loved the sister wives, though; they were great! But like you said, the story was kind of slow. I’m still going to check out Fever, because people say it’s better. Thanks for the review!

  5. Shellie

    I still haven’t read this one yet but it’s still sitting in the other room. I’ve heard mixed things and with the book I’ve been trying to get into I need something that catches me ya know. Great review

  6. Sam

    Lovely review, Giselle. I was surprised actually by how much I enjoyed this book. I don’t think it’s the best dystopian either but I’m looking forward to the next book quite a bit. 🙂

  7. Candace

    I felt much the same way. I liked it but it was slower moving and it felt like not a lot really happened. I just read Fever last week and honestly I feel very disappointed. I don’t want to ruin it for you or plant ideas in your head if your not wanting to know, but I really hope you enjoy it more then me. I DID like it, but not as much as I’d hoped.

  8. Giselle

    @Candace: I actually finished Fever last night and I liked it more than Wither. I liked that it was more fast paced though I still wish for more world building. Too bad it was disappointing for you though!

  9. Carina

    Thanks a lot for your honest review, Giselle! I have been wanting to read this one for a while now and thanks to Donna I have a copy of it sitting on my shelf right now and I really need to get to it soon. I’ll keep your review in mind and hope to like the book. 😀


  10. Kelly

    First I want to say that I really loved your review! I just bought this book and I really hope that I like it! And I also wanted to let you know that you’ve been tagged! All you have to do is click here and answer the questions. It takes you to my blogpost where I too have answered the questions of the person who tagged me. It’s a great way to learn more about your fellow bloggers, and I hope you join in the fun!

    Kelly @ Dandelion Dreams

  11. BookJunkie

    I felt it moved at a fairly steady pace, at least until the very end. But I do agree that the most compelling thing about Wither is it’s unique premise! I know you’ve read Fever, and I can’t wait to hear what you thought of it!
    Thanks for the review, girlie!

    Courtney @ Fuzzy.Coffee.Books

  12. Danny

    *sigh* I really didn’t get into this story at all… I was unfortunately very disappointed. I read this one with high hopes but ended up not liking it. One reason was just like you mentioned was that I never ever felt the romance between Rhine and Gabriel. Also, Gabriel as a character never appealed to me and I found him too flat. But, I’m glad you ended up liking it at least as much as to read the next one!

  13. KTJ

    You pretty much described exactly how I felt about this, It was good, interesting and definitely intriguing but for me it just lacked the passion and not only from her relationship with Gabriel but with other things also, and I must admit that Rhine’s indecisiveness annoyed the hell outta me!

    I’m hoping for more sparks and liveliness in book two!

    Nomalicious Reads

  14. Alexa

    I’ve been really curious about this series since the reviews for Fever have been popping up all over the place. It was wonderful to read your thoughts – you’ve got me sufficiently intrigued about reading it.

  15. Lexie

    Awesome review. Most people I know have either loved it or absolutely hated it, so it’s interesting to see someone in between. I think I’m still going to pick this up out of curiosity.

  16. Respiring Thoughts

    This is actually one of the only YA dystopian novels I’ve actually liked, not so much for the characters or storyline as for the prose. DeStefano doesn’t write like the typical YA author, and I appreciated the maturity and imagery in her writing.

    Excellent review! I rather agreed with your comments on the worldbuilding.

    Renae @ Respiring Thoughts

  17. Sarah (saz101)

    EeeeK! SCARY! OK, seriously, if something like that DID happen in terms of lifespan, the kidnapping? The forced baby-making? It’s so believable… and SO CREEPY.

    Sorry this one didn’t quite bring the magic, but it sounds kind of amazing regardless!

  18. Claire @ YA Bookie Monster

    Great review Giselle! I definitely agree that we didn’t see enough of Gabriel for him and Rhine to really develop amazing chemistry, although I do think that Rhine’s relationship with Landon was quite interesting!

    I really, really loved this one and I wish you could have liked it as much as I did, but we can’t all love every book now can we 🙂 After reading some of your comments, I’m glad that you enjoyed Fever more!

    Claire 🙂

  19. Kathy Ann Coleman

    Is there something wrong with me for saying my favorite character in the entire book was Linden? I thought I would *hate* him, but he was very complex — both through his own choices and through how niave he was — and I actually wished it could be just him and Rhine by the end. I can’t believe I’m admitting to this. Anyway, very interesting to hear your thoughts. 🙂

  20. reutreads

    Interesting. I’m currently reading it in preparation for Fever like you, and I’m really liking it. I don’t get a lot of time to read during the school week, but I find I’m putting a lot of time aside to read it.

  21. Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue

    I have heard that this one is very slow, or rather, that there isn’t a great deal of action. The story itself seems strong enough to overlook that and still enjoy the story – which I’m glad you did. Rhine sounds like a strong protagonist from what I’ve heard and I am psyched you liked the characters!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  22. Missie, The Unread Reader

    “I never found myself bored necessarily, but I wasn’t eagerly turning the pages either.”

    YES! I had very similar feelings to your on Wither. I’m still not sure I’ll continue the series, but I’m glad it has found it’s audience.

  23. Elodie

    Too bad you didn’t love this one .. 🙁 ! I read it last year and really liked it but now that the sequel is coming out I’m not sure if I want to keep reading this series .. Weird isn’t it ?
    Great review Giselle !

  24. Maja

    Unfortunately, this book is so far out of my comfort zone, I never even considered starting it. But I thought your review was amazing. Very articulated and detailed.

  25. JJ iReads

    Great review. I for one loved the book but I agree that I would have wanted more world building and that the relationship between Rhine and Gabriel didn’t seem very “romantic”. He seemed more of a big brother to me.

  26. Rebecca (Kindle Fever)

    I still need to get back to this one. I only got half-way until I got kind of bored and had to take a dead-line reading break… then I just never felt the need to pick it back up. I hope I’ll enjoy it more when continuing! I agree that so far it hasn’t lived up to the dystopias I’ve come across so far.