Friday, January 21, 2011

Review: Wither

By Lauren DeStefano
Publication date: March 22, 2011

My review:

Rhine lives in a futuristic United States where because of a genetic engineering mistake, people have started dying in their twenties. Men have a life expectancy of 25 and women die at 20. In order to keep the human race going, teenage girls are being kidnapped by wealthy young men and forced to become brides and bear children. Rhine is sixteen when the unthinkable happens and she is kidnapped and married off to Linden along with two other "sister-wives". Surprisingly Linden is not the vile monster Rhine expects but instead a caring and sympathetic person but she doesn't want to be married to him. Rhine does find a friend in Gabriel, a servant, and she also develops an unlikely alliance with Rose, Linden's dying first wife. Rose wants Rhine to take her place and look after Linden but all Rhine can think about is escaping and making her way back to her twin brother Rowan. Escape seems impossible though with the way the wives are watched all the time and Rhine senses danger in the form of Linden's controlling father. It will take courage for Rhine to fight for her freedom and her future, dark as it may be.

Wither is the latest entry in the new trend of YA dystopian fiction focusing on arranged/forced marriage and forbidden love. Rhine is a brave heroine facing a very short life that just became more complicated by her kidnapping and forced marriage. I liked the way that Linden is portrayed as a three dimensional character and even the other sister-wives have depth, especially Jenna. I still did not like his character however because he married such a young girl as Cecily who is barely a teen. Like Rhine, I found that to be repulsive even in light of the shortened life spans. The one character I was disappointed with is Linden's father, Vaughn. He is menacing but we don't know why. Some of his actions kind of surprised me because I couldn't understand his motivation. I am hopeful that the sequel will explain this.

While the novel starts off quickly with Rhine's capture, it slows down once she arrives at Linden's home. This slower pace might be frustrating for some but it allows the reader to get to know the characters and understand the situation Rhine finds herself in. Rhine's relationship with the other sister-wives is explored in depth as is the gradual and confusing friendship building between herself and Linden. I thought DeStefano did an excellent job with this in particular. Rhine's relationship with Gabriel develops more quickly as she comes to trust him and eventually fall for him. I look forward to seeing where this leads in the sequel.

In addition to the character of Vaughn, I also had a problem with understanding the behavior of the Gatherers. A decision they made early in the novel did not make sense when seen in light of the world they live in where people die so young. Aside from these issues, I thought Wither was an interesting and entertaining (though at times disturbing) novel. I definitely plan to read the sequel to find out what happens with Rhine, Gabriel, and the others. I would suggest this book to fans of The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan and Delirium by Lauren Oliver.

Readalikes: The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Note: I read and reviewed an ARC of this book as part of an ARC tour, courtesy of Around the World ARC Tours


  1. I've really been looking forward to this one. Fantastic review, i'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

    Come check out my Eternal review?

  2. Wow! Okay. So I really want to read all the books (red-tagged) in my pile so i could start this. Great review!

  3. This is the first time I read something different from Wither.
    None of them complain about the Gatherers.
    love to read such review :)

  4. I agree with a lot of your statements, especially about how lovely it was that the story slowed down a bit once she arrived at Linden's house. I'm also hoping we learn more about Vaughn in the sequel, because he is totally creepy, but also just weird. And I'm curious as to how Rhine's different colored eyes thing will come into play down the line :)


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