Thursday, March 17, 2011

ARC Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publication: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing; 1 edition (March 22, 2011)

Description: 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?

My Thoughts: This book is very hard for me to write about. I thought the book began very slowly. It felt like nothing happened for the first 80 pages which, after analysis, was not true but I didn't feel any emotional connection to the story. I think the main problem I had was that the main character herself was detached either because she was in shock or depressed. Her observations did let me get a good view of this dystopian world.

Rhine clearly felt a sense of fatalism because she knew that she would only live to be 20 years old. All young women die at 20. All young men die at 25. Genetic experimentation has gone tragically wrong. Some of the first generation - those for whom the genetic experimentation went well - are trying very hard to find a cure and allow their children to live normal lives. Others feel that it would be best to let the human race die out. Terroristic attacks on labs looking for a cure is not uncommon. Rhine lost her first generation parents in one such attack. She and her twin Rowen were living hand-to-mouth and in fear in Manhattan before Rhine was kidnapped to be a bride. 

She becomes the bride of Linden Ashby - age 21. They live in a world of privilege. Rhine and her sister wives are attended by servants. They have a wonderful, safe, worry-free life but they have no freedom. The share a house with Linden's father who is a first generation doctor and researcher and who is feared by Rhine. He controls everything and every one. 

The contrasts between the three sister wives illuminates the culture. The oldest is Jenna who is 18 and just waiting to die. When the girls were kidnapped to be Linden's brides, her sisters were taken too. However, they were not chosen to be wives and they were killed. Cecily is the youngest at13. She was raised in an orphanage and is delighted to be selected as a bride. Rhine had been raised by her parents until their deaths. She is determined to escape this life and return to her brother.

It was interesting to watch Rhine change through this story. When it began, she was determined to hate her new husband. She does learn that he is as much of a victim as they are. She does come to love him in some ways but is still determined to have her freedom. 

This is the first book in a trilogy. It will be interesting to see where the story goes. I recommend it to those who love quiet dystopias. The actions in this one are subtle. The characters are interesting and the world one that provokes a lot of thought.

Favorite Quote:
I don't want tea or strawberries. i don't want Gabriel to be my attendant right now. I want him to sit here with me and be my friend. I want to know he won't be punished for it later. I want us both to be free.


  1. I really liked this one but it does have a few minor issues with it. You mentioned one of them in your review. It never made sense to me that Jenna's sisters were killed. Why would you kill girls capable of bearing more children if your world is dying out? I was hoping Lauren DeStefano would address that in Wither but maybe it will be discussed in the next book.

    Great review. You make some good points. I'm looking forward to the next book and hopeful that it will provide some answers.

  2. Wither has an interesting story to it. I'm sorry you didn't like it much. I'll still give it a chance. :D Awesome Honest Review! <3

  3. I liked seeing Rhine change too. She lost some of her anger, although she was still determined to leave. It's funny how almost all the reviews ignore the romance btw Rhine and Gabriel - since there wasn't much of it.


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