Feb 27, 2011

Review: Wither by Lauren Destefano

Title: Wither
Author: Lauren Destefano
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 3.22.2011
Pages:  356
Genre: Dystopian; Romance
Series: Yes; Book #1 (The Chemical Garden Trilogy)

Rating:  B+

Summary (from 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

A few years ago dystopian novels were something of a novelty. Now what was once an obscure genre has exploded on the scene with some books leaving the reader haunted and troubled well after the last page is turned while others are simply cast into the yard sale pile. I can thankfully say that Destefano’s debut novel is in the former category.

The story of Rhine Ellery is provocative and compelling. I found myself unable to stop reading from the first chapter when Rhine describes her turn at the auction block, or possibly, the chopping block. There is never a moment where you don’t feel as trapped as Rhine is, and just as anxious for her to escape. Destefano does a marvelous job of created a beautiful prison, a platinum cage, where Rhine and the reader are kept prisoner. I found all the characters to be complex and it both frustrated and impressed me that nothing was simply black and white. There were too many layers of gray surrounding everything for you to ever fully hate, or love, a character. It works well for this novel.

While I wish more time had been spent on building the attraction between Rhine and Gabriel, it was still a love story that I rooted for since their initial meeting. The ending left a bit to be desired, and I’m quite curious to see how Destefano handles the next book in the series because the ending of this book could have easily been a final ending.

For a first time author, Destefano did a fabulous job, and she’s definitely going to be a writer to watch in the upcoming years. I applaud the fact that she didn’t shy away from squeamish subjects, but rather embraced and explored them. I can’t wait to see what she does next.


  1. I totally agree with what you said. It wasn't perfect, but I REALLY enjoyed it. The atmospheric prose and that feeling of being trapped were amazing, and I basically read it all in one sitting, I was so enthralled.

  2. I started it last night, finally convinced myself I needed to sleep after 8 chapters, and then finished it today. It had a few flaws, but I was quite taken by it.

  3. I bought this book but I haven't start it yet. I keep hearing it's good!

  4. Great review. I love how you describe it as a "beautiful prison" That's how I felt about it too. I think I compared it to a harem, being confined in luxury. It was definitely an intriguing start to the series.

  5. I agree, it's definitely one of those that you can't stop reading. I really reallyyy liked this one. I don't even know exactly why, I just loved it. I'm interested in how the story's gonna go from here as well.

  6. I couldnt get out of Wither and with Fever coming I cant wait

    Carla C

  7. Great review! I really enjoyed this book too. Loving the series.

  8. I have this one but have not read it yet. On the TBR pile right now. The summary really is interesting. And it's good that you thought so too. Thanks for the honest review!

  9. This book sounds great. Will definitely add it on my Goodreads To Read list. Dystopians are so common now, so that means a lot of garbage is out there. Thanks for this great review!


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