Google+ Reading Teen: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing; 1 edition (March 22, 2011)
  • Author's Website:
  • Buy the book!!! Amazon
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?
I am still catching my breath after reading this book.  I loved it.  I knew from the first few pages that I would love it because I immediately fell in love with the writing.  Lauren has an amazing ability to put words on paper that make me hold my breath without even realizing I'm doing it.  I would get to the end of the chapter, and realized that I had barely breathed the whole time!

Wither isn't a sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat read.  There isn't the constant action that you might expect to find in a Dystopian, but that doesn't mean that its boring by any stretch of the imagination.  It is so suspenseful and twisted and creepy and beautiful and sad and hopeful and enraging and imaginable and unimaginable.  The writing is just so fantastic, and Rhine's voice is so strong.  Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down.  This world, that Lauren has completely made me believe could actually happen, is so scary to think about, as a parent of young girls.  Is it a far stretch to believe that this would be our future if people started dying early?  I think you only have to look at the atrocities (human trafficking, women as sexual objects) that are already happening in the world to know that it isn't. 

But while this book deals with the exploitation of women, and a lot of that has to do with sex, and violence, I feel that Lauren has tackled the issue with grace.  And although it sounds like a this would be a depressing subject, somehow Lauren makes you believe that there is still good in the world, and there is still hope for a better tomorrow.

Rhine (I love that name) is a fantastic main character.  I loved reading about her because I felt like I could totally be her.  She is so stubborn and determined.  She would not give in no matter what.  But at the same time, she had the calm and sensibility to look at situations logically.  I loved how she would be emotionally moved by someone or something, then almost give herself a pep-talk, reminding herself of how she got there, and why she had to keep fighting.  You can tell from the beginning that she is the one.  The one everyone will look to.....for love, for hope, for beauty, for strength, she is it.  And I loved that about her.

Much of this book actually reminded me of The Hunger Games.  Not the actual games part, but the part where Katniss was swept up to the Capitol, made over by her prep team, and given every possible luxury that she had never even dreamed could have existed.  There were many moments like this for Rhine, and I loved watching the guilty struggle going on inside her.  How can you not love being pampered and given everything you could possibly want?  But she knows deep down it's not real.  The one thing that is most important, is the one thing they will never give her, and that's her freedom.
"I can't imagine a lovelier thing to wear on my way to my lifelong imprisonment."
I loved how each of the characters were fully fleshed out, and had very distinct personalities.  Jenna's character was so heartbreaking.  One part of her story in particular made me gasp out loud and almost start crying.  At first I thought she was weak, and had just given up on life, but then I realized how strong she actually was, and I feel like she was such a rock for Rhine.  Then there was Cecily.  I just had to keep saying, she's only thirteen, she's only thirteen!  She was SUCH a spoiled girl!  I did find it strange how quickly she became such a diva.  Given her background as an orphan who was never really cared for, I wouldn't have thought her capable of such drama.  But maybe she's like the starving cat who finally gets fed and ends up obese.  She's going to take all she can get while she can get it.

Linden was an interesting dilemma.  It would have been so easy just to hate him, but I couldn't.  I actually found myself almost wishing that Rhine would fall in love with him.  Almost.  But regardless of how deceived he was, or how sheltered, he knew deep down that having three wives was not ok.  And he certainly should have known having a Thirteen-year-old wife wasn't ok.  That was REALLY hard for me to read about.  Especially knowing that this actually happens in today's world to some girls (young girls forced into polygamist marriages).   Still, Linden's naivete, his love for his first wife, his love for Rhine, and the way he generally seems to care for each of the girls really made him more than just a villain.  It actually made me feel sorry for him.  (*slight spoiler, highlight to read) One thing that really drove me crazy was that Rhine never told Linden how they came to be there, or what happened to the girls who weren't chosen, or what his father was really doing with those bodies.  I wish she would have told him.  He had the right to know, and then make a decision based on that.  I would be very interested to know what he would have done with that information.  BUT, maybe it will happen in one of the future books??
*End of Spoiler*

Speaking of villains.....Linden's father?  Holy crap that man is E.V.I.L!  Talk about totally creepy and just a sickening display of the dark side of humanity.  That man made my skin crawl! 

Then there was Gabriel.....*sigh*.....the servant boy who waited on the sister wives.  I loved him!!!  I loved the relationship that developed between he and Rhine.  LOVED!  Just one more example of that life or death romantic tension that I love so, so much.  You wanted them to kiss so badly, but then when they did it was terrifying because if they were caught they would be killed.  ARGH!!  The tension!!!  I just ate it up!  I only wish that Gabriel had been in it more. 

Overall, if you can't tell, I adored Wither.  It is the first in a trilogy (The Chemical Garden Trilogy), but there is some resolution at the end of this book.  And, honestly, I could have kept on reading this book for days and days.   I think if you liked Delirium, that you will really enjoy Wither as well.

Check Mate!

  • Sexual Content:  Sex is discussed but not described (prostitution, polygamy, and young girls forced into marriage)
  • Profanity:  Mild
  • Violence:  Heavy, though not described
  • Other Notables:  Drinking by married couples at parties.  Gruesome details of birth and death.
For more details, check out Wither on Parental Book Reviews.

This review is part of:


  1. And as you usually do, you've just made my TBR longer! :)

  2. OMG!!!! I so wanna read that book!

  3. Jam- I do what I can! haha!!!

    Livia- have you read Delirium?

  4. I felt the very same way about your spoiler, and it's one of the only things that bothered me. I really wanted to know!!

  5. I really loved this one as well. It was actually pretty neat to have a slower paced dystopian. I can't wait til the next one!

  6. I enjoyed your review alot Andye! You had very similar thoughts that I had,I was very surprised to find out what this book was about. It reallywas great and I can't wit for the next one!

    here's my review

  7. Do you know what , I didn't want to mention it but YES!!! The Hunger Games with Katniss and being primped ready for her eventual death. I kept thinking of that everytime Rhine was pampered. Brilliant book , can't wait to read more about Gabriel:D
    Great review;)


  8. Andye, I cannot even begin to tell you how much i loved wither. not only is the plot brilliant but lauren Destefano's writing is hauntingly good.

    oh and let me take a momment to gush over the AH-MAZING cover. this is the kind of cover that i just want to hug, pet and sniff all day long.
    I was happy to see that it reflects back some of the elegance and mystery of the story inside. Believe it or not but when I first purchased wither, i spent a good 5 minutes just staring at the cover before even opening it to the first page


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  10. This book is so good! I couldn't put it down! The relationships between the sister wives are so unique and raw. I MUST find out what happens next!


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