Saturday, May 14, 2011

Review: Wither by Lauren De Stefano

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 358 pages

PublisherSimon & Schuster Children's Publishing; 1st edition (March 22nd 2011)
Language: English
Source: Purchased from Book Depository
First Sentence: "I wait."
Favorite Line from the Book:  
"Eventually I realize that I am holding on to him just as tightly as he holds on to me. And here we are: two small dying things, as the world ends around us like falling autumn leaves." 
Book Summary:  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.
I have been waiting for this book to arrive for so long.  I ordered it through Book Depository and it took me almost 25 business days to finally received it.  While I was waiting for this book to arrive, I usually frequented the local bookstores just to look at the book and admire its beautiful cover.  I have heard so many great things about its cover and its content, but of course it still will be a great experience to read it firsthand... and so my anticipation grew.

I devoured this novel within one day of receiving it.  I honestly put down the book I was reading prior to this one, not because I didn't like it (I'll not mention the other book ^_^), but because I couldn't concentrate enough due to the fact that I couldn't get Wither off my mind.  When I first turned to its first page, I was suddenly and wonderful sucked into Rhine's world.

Wither is a story of a time wherein females die at the age of 20 and males die at 25.  This is due to a treatment which were done to the first generation to combat cancer.  Teenage girls are being kidnapped to be married off to wealthy males in the hopes of producing children to keep the mortality rate afloat.  But the marriage is a polygamous one and the husbands are being shared amongst sister wives.  What sets this novel off from the other dystopian novels is not the polygamous marriage piece, but how the "virus" kills human beings at such a young age.

Polygamous marriages are hard.  It is hard for the sister wives as you've got to share your husband with others.  If you are considered as a first wife, you get to have special favors which none of the others can have.  That in itself can rouse up envy and hard feelings to the other wives.  What is remarkable in this novel was how the author was able to tackle this subject with great accuracy.  She was able to show the complexity of such marriage.  The characters which she built into the novel were well thought off and you can easily feel the bond, the feelings, of the other sister wives - Jenny, the bitter, cynical one and Cecily, the youngest one - starry-eyed, clingy, idealistic.

Living in a world wherein you know exactly when you will die is pretty hard to believe.  But the author was able to delve more on the feelings of the characters.  Rhine, the main character, was beautifully described that you can actually feel what she is going through.  I was so engrossed in the novel that I went to the point of rooting for Rhine.  She has a twin brother, and with that thought alone, she wanted so hard to escape the fabulous prison that she is in.  She has only one aim - to escape and look for her brother and spend the last years of her life with him.  I like Rhine's character.  She is full of strength, full of will to leave.  Her love for her brother is so huge that she will do anything, even risk losing her own life, just to get to him.  Rhine is strong-willed and I love that about her.

Linden, Rhine's husband is grieving after the death of his first wife whom he loved truly.  I liked how the author was able to let me see this side of Linden as it gave me hope that he is not just buying brides just for the sake of impregnating them.  Lauren was able to let me feel the pain Linden went through after his first wife died.  I admired Linden because of how respectful he is of Rhine.  He didn't push himself on her.  Instead, he created a relationship which grew one day at a time.  A relationship based on friendship, or so he thought.  Linden plays a big part in this novel and I would like to get more of him on the second novel.

I have a mix feeling about Gabriel, the helper whom Rhine fell in love with  Yes, he is a good friend to Rhine, but I feel that his character was not fully developed.  I would have liked to know him more, to give me a reason why Rhine fell in love with him instead of Linden.

All in all, I liked Wither.  I like the setting, the plot, and how most of the characters were intricately created and developed.  I love how I was able to connect with the story from page one.  I recommend this book to the readers who love dystopian novels.  This a great debut novel by Lauren De Stefano and it was definitely worth my wait.

Here's the book trailer:


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I really enjoyed this book as well. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next to Rhine and am hoping that we learn more about Gabriel in the 2nd book. Great review!


I completely agree with you about the character of Gabriel in this novel! I actually ended up liking Linden a lot more than him :P I'm glad I finally met someone else who feels the same way! I'm looking forward to reading the second book in the series to see if the author changes my mind and makes me like Gabriel more.

Akasha Hale & Lexus Salvatore

I haven't yet been able to purchase this novel but it's on my To-Do-List for the future. I've heard so many wonderful things about this novel that I cannot handle not having it. Great review.

-Akasha Hale

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