Saturday, June 4, 2011


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.

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Beth says 4 Stars…

I love the concept of this book. I’m all for the surge in dystopian fiction being offered post-Hunger Games because I happen to be a huge fan of the genre. I found the concept of the consequences of science absolutely fascinating because of my love of science. Genetic engineering, its limits, and the morality that comes with it capture my attention and initially helped draw me into the novel. However, there really were only hints at the interesting bits, with more of the science focus being on some possibly unpleasant and secret experiments done by a single individual. I do understand that this makes no real scientific sense, but maybe DeStefano will find some way to make it logical. If not, I hope she at least delves into the consequences of emerging technology. I hope the rest of the series will expand upon the scientific aspects of the world. I will say that the world building needs improvement; everything was in the same vein as the scientific set up. There are hints of a fantastically interesting world – it has a lot of potential. However, quite a bit was either illogical or poorly explained, which really hurt the engrossing power of the story. A huge reason this book rates so highly is the absolute beauty of the prose. It’s so pretty (that was my mature definition)! I got enraptured by the lovely writing, which absolutely sucked me in. This is partly why I think the series has so much potential; this book is a debut, and this caliber of writing right off the bat bodes well for improvement in other aspect of the novels.

Another reason the book was good were the character descriptions. I really felt for all of them, even those who readers didn’t necessarily need to bond with. Rhine had enough spunk to keep me happy and interested, but she was so much more than that. She was fragile without ever breaking and tough without being impervious. I felt as though I had a good feel for what she thought and how she ticked, so it was interesting to see her develop and reveal more about herself as time went on. I loved her relationship with Gabriel and how it defies a good deal of the current conventions of YA lit. So often the two characters meet and a week later are passionately in love, knowing that they’re soulmates. Here they actually build a relationship in what could be seen as a relatively healthy way (considering that one of them is in a polygamous marriage). I also found the polygamy very interesting because it allowed exploration of very different relationships than normal. The wives could have their own unique marriage to Linden within the larger family frame. I also thought that the interactions between the sister wives themselves showed a great deal about the characters’ personalities. I became deeply invested in all of the characters, whether I liked them or not.

Wither is a novel that is both deeply flawed and magnificent. I think that the series has a lot of potential and could be unbelievable, but DeStefano has some things she needs to work on. The main concern is to improve the world building, but if she can do that with her strong writing foundation there could be a gold mine here. I’m excited to see where this story goes and how things develop and look forward to being wrapped in her beautiful prose and intense characters once more.
Book from Publisher


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