Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Book Description via Goodreads:

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.

Source: Simon and Schuster Galley Grab (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Wither started in darkness. Rhine, along with other girls, was taken by Gatherers. Girls, young and frightened, were sold off to rich men to become brides. It was a great act of human trafficking. Cruel and inconsiderate, the Gatherers, searched for candidate brides for their clients as if the girls were nothing but a good source of money. Polygamy was widely accepted. The number of brides was a status symbol.

Rhine and her sister wives had no choice but to perform their roles as wives to Linden. I got to see what it was like to be a girl in Rhine’s time. It meant living through adolescence but not being able to enjoy adulthood, being special with the constant presence of risk and danger of being taken away from your family, your life and everything you’ve ever known, and having a short time to figure out identity, self-worth, purpose and life. 

Jenna was the observant one, the cold one with a heart full of hatred. Cecily was the youngest, naïve, loud, demanding but eager to please Linden and his father, Vaughn. Both girls did not desire to escape, unlike Rhine. She wanted to spend her remaining years with her twin, Rowan. She wanted to be able to do what she wanted to do without the restraint of being a wife. Although as she lived in the mansion, she realized that sometimes, despite her dislike, rage and loss, it was not that hard to be the wife of a man who loved and lost. But with her growing attraction to Gabriel, the servant boy, could luxury be enough to stay with Linden?

DeStefano created a world where majority of the people were like candles, with a definite deathday, with a certainty that soon they would reach that point and just fade. With the life span cut so short, children lost their parents and were no longer able to enjoy childhood, always striving to survive. Humans were fading because of their science. Their perfection led to their greatest imperfection.

The writing was very beautiful despite the scary dystopian concept. Rhine’s narration was a careful observation of a person who was more or less living like a prisoner – caged in a luxurious floor in a huge mansion, always being watched and unable to explore and express certain feelings and thoughts openly. The cost of being bride was the one thing that Rhine wanted to keep: freedom. The certainty of death pushed the people to act. With this horrifying set deadline, acceptance and perseverance thrived. Death is inevitable but when it comes too soon and gives people so little time to stay on Earth, things happen, perspectives change.

Wither is an excellent dystopian novel – beautiful, horrifying and bittersweet. This is a story of loss, death and hope. I recommend this to dystopian fans!



  1. So glad you enjoyed this one! The world DeStefano created sounds truly terrifying. Can't wait to dive into myself.

  2. This seems to be either a love or hate sort of book! l have seen mostly 5 star reviews though, can't wait to read it!!

  3. This book is one of the next ones for me to read. It sounds really good. I agree with all the people you have commented on the side that your reviews are really well written. I wish I could write that well. I'll be following you, seems as if you read quite a few I would like.

  4. Brilliantly written, Precious! I love your review, you've perfectly explored the genius of this book. 2011 has been amazing so far for debut novels, I can't wait to see what happens next in Rhine's world!

  5. I love your review of this one. I read this and loved it! I can't wait for the second book.