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Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: March 22, 2011
Pages: 358
Source: For Review from Simon & Schuster Canada (Thank You!)
Rating: 4.5 Stars

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.

In short: Wither by Lauren DeStefano is a powerful debut with a chilling dystopian world and memorable character relationships.
Lauren DeStefano creates a chilling atmosphere right from the start in Wither as we see main character Rhine being kidnapped and sold into a polygamous marriage at the age of sixteen, to be trapped in a mansion for the last four years of her life. Rhine is a clever, strong girl who was stolen away from her twin brother, Rowan, and Wither follows her journey as she attempts to come up with a plan to escape and make her way home.

The world that DeStefano creates in Wither is a terribly tragic one in which life is so short and yet most young orphans are still unable to live life to its fullest during their short time. When Rhine is taken and trapped inside the mansion, she is given seemingly everything she could ever want--except freedom. Her husband, Linden, will give her the world--"on a string." When I started reading Wither I found myself wondering, how is DeStefano going to keep the story interesting and introduce action when almost the entirety of the novel takes place in one mansion? I was quite impressed that DeStefano did in fact manage to keep my interest the entire time when reading, so kudos to her.

Romance lovers may be disappointed because they may feel that the romance between Rhine and her love interest, Gabriel, is lacking but I for one loved it. It had a very slow development, starting off as friends. None of this love at first sight nonsense. In my opinion, this is the foundation for a truly powerful romance and I found it an utterly refreshing part of the story. Another strength was the genuine camaraderie felt between Rhine and her sister wives, Rose, Jenna, and Cecily. I loved how they cared for each other and saw themselves as actual sisters. Rhine never feels like a wife to her husband but she quickly feels a connection as a sister wife.

If there was one thing that I felt truly lacking it was the background information with regards to the virus. I craved a more in depth reasoning as to how the virus came to be in this world. I am, however, very hopeful that we will get answers in the next two books of this trilogy. I can't wait to learn more! 

Other Reviews:

Stalk the Author (not for serious):

*Read as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge


  1. "I loved how they cared for each other and saw themselves as actual sisters." Me too! I was expecting there to be a lot of competition, jealousy and hate between the three, but I couldn't have been more wrong! They were wonderful. Especially Jenna and Rhine :)
    I love this review :) So many points that I agree on - which you already know!
    Thanks for mentioning my review :)

  2. Im really excited to read this!! Ive heard so many good things!


  3. I quite enjoyed this book. I did wish the romance and virus had been better fleshed out, but I think that will happen in future books. I loved the relationship between the sister wives.

  4. I have heard so many good things about this one. I am now on the wait list at the library when it comes in. :0)

  5. Wow! Wither reviews are quite popular today.

    You know, I really appreciated the different take on romance in the story too. It wasn't really about the romance but more about the character development of Rhine. And I did enjoy the bond she formed with her sister wives. I was happy to see a different focus for a change. But yeah, I would have liked more background info on the virus too.

    Glad you liked it Aylee.

  6. Amber: That really was a strength of the book I thought. An unexpected strength. Even Cecily, whom I didn't like at first, grew on me by the end.

    SweetSwan: You should be! It is officially published tomorrow but some bookstores might already have copies in stock.

    Alison: Yes, it seems as though almost every review I read makes a point to mention how much they loved the relationship between the sister wives. As for me, I'm not a real gun-ho romance type of person so I really enjoyed their relationship but I can understand why some people would feel differently.

    Tracy: Yay! Excited for you to read this one :)

  7. Too bad about the lack of background info on the virus. I dislike it when authors slack in that part of their world building.

  8. Missie: Yes, exactly! It's is so refreshing to read books in which the focus is on the girl and her development and not on the romance. I loved how the relationship focus was, if anything, on her sister wives and not on her husband or love interest. But yeah, more background would have been very welcome.

  9. Dang, every time I post a response to a comment, someone else posts another comment, haha. Can't keep up clearly.

    Small Review: Yes, for me, world building is especially important in dystopians. But like I said, there is plenty of room for that in future books hopefully. Especially as the ending in this one was left so wide open...

  10. I love dystopia. Great review, I'll have to check it out.

  11. Couldn't agree more Aylee! I loved this one, I found it disturbing and fascinating at the same time and I really enjoyed Rhine and her relationship to the other characters. Though I wanted a little more from Gabriel, I agree it was very refreshing that there was no "instant" love:) Hopefully we get more info on the virus in the next book!

  12. I'm desperate to read this! I really need to get it: everyone loves it!
    Thanks for commenting on my review: I really loved Delirium! If you didn't guess! ;)
    Brilliant review!

  13. I haven't come across all that many positive reviews of this book so I am really excited to see yours Aylee! Thanks for the great review- reading it makes me want to get this book ASAP!

  14. I've been waiting for your review. I didn't really like the romance between Gabriel and Rhine, but it's probably because I didn't feel like it was needed. But I liked the end and was glad he was there!

  15. I'm really glad you ended up enjoying this one, too! DeStefano really kept the tension up within the seclusion of the mansion, so I'm VERY excited to see what she does with the outside in the next two books.

  16. I rated this one a 4.5, too. I also loved the relationships between Rhine and her sister wives-- and was amazed that Lauren DeStefano could keep the plot so suspenseful every second, when, as you say, everything takes place within an isolated mansion. Awesome review! :)

  17. I think I'm going to have to start reading this one next week. It sounds so different and interesting. Glad you liked it!

  18. bfav: I love dystopian too! It seems like I just can't get enough of it lately.

    Jenny: Disturbing and fascinating at the same time is a really good way to put it, haha. My thoughts exactly. I'm sure we'll learn more about the virus in the next book. I mean, how could we not?

    TheBookAddictedGirl: Well, mostly everyone loves it. There are a few reviews I've read that make fair points when they talk about the things they disliked about this one.

    Avery: Oh really? I kind of thought the vast majority were overwhelmingly positive. There are a few reviewers I can think of who just didn't think the book was for them.

    Sara: That's a good point. I don't necessarily feel as though it was needed either. Who knows, maybe nothing will become of it and they'll go their separate ways...

    Stephanie: Very interesting point! I worried that it was going to be boring spending all that time in the mansion but it was in fact very tension filled. How will she do it now that they've escaped, indeed?

    Kat: It seems the sister wives relationship was loved unanimously by reviewers. It yes, huge kudos to DeStefano for keeping the plot suspenseful! Very impressive.

    Logan: I hope you enjoy it! It was very different. I hope it lives up to the hype for you!

  19. Loved this book, too! I agree about the romance between Rhine and Gabriel. It was slow, but I think it will b well worth it in the next installments. "Patience is a virtue" - oh, poo! Oh won't lie, I was rooting for more alone time the entire time, but what can you do?

    Great review!

  20. Glad to hear everyone is really liking this book! I love, love the cover! I started to read it on Galley Grab, but couldn't finish it in time. However, I purchased it immediately. I can't wait continue reading. It has terrific characters. Awesome story concept. However, I feel like you. I wish there was more explanation about the virus. But I got a sense because Rhine doesn't know how or why it started, we as readers are supposed to be in the dark like her. That was my guess.

  21. BookGeek: Yeah, I am definitely interested in seeing where their relationship will go in future installments! They are sure going to be spending a lot of time together now that they've escaped. Way more than they spent in Wither.

    Julie: Right, I feel the same way. Rhine has no idea but I was kind of hoping at some point she would find out a little more, just a little bit to keep the reader intrigued. I really hope by the end of this series Rhine has figured out the whole truth and it isn't left open. I would be pretty annoyed.

  22. I haven't read this one yet but it's good to know that the romance builds up slowly. There's way too many books where the characters just fall in love right away and often, it's highly unbelievable.

  23. OMG !! I can't wait to read this one .. I've heard so many great things about it ;) !! I love dystopias so I guess I'll love this one .. Besides the cover looks GORGEOUS !!

  24. Zanida: Right, exactly. I felt that was one of the strengths of this book but I guess other people felt differently and would have liked to see a more powerful romance. That tends not to be my thing though...

    Elodie: Heh, I feel the same way about dystopians. I have yet to read a truly disappointing one... and I hope that day never comes!

    Lu: Yay!

  25. T.B.: I hope the hype doesn't affect how you like the book! I totally agree: I would say that world building is among the top most important thing that I look for in dystopians.

  26. What an awesome review, Aylee! I actually gave Wither a 3.5 because, despite the amazing cast of characters, I was really pissed about the lack of world-building/explanation about the virus. I find it to be a bit of a copout for authors, just assuming we'll be ok with a halfhearted explanation. I'm hoping it's explained in book two, though because the characters redeemed it for me :)

  27. Melissa: Yes, I absolutely agree on the lack of world building and explanation. I guess for me, it wasn't totally crucial that DeStefano explored that in this first book so long as she gets to it sometime. Still, I definitely could've done with a bit more information in this one. I'm terribly curious! I will be annoyed if we get no explanation whatsoever in future books because I agree that I'm not okay with a "halfhearted explanation" and it would be a cop-out!

  28. Thanks for the review! I've heard a lot of mixed reactions about this book. I still don't know if I'm going to pick this up or not. But the premise really sounds cool so I might once I'm free from my book buying ban. And I hope there'll be no love triangle. :(

    Chel @ The Procrastinator's Corner

  29. Nope, no love triangle! That was definitely a plus. I would recommend you give this one a go just in case you love it. You could always try your friendly neighbourhood library!