Book Reviews

Review: “Wither,” Lauren DeStefano

February 23, 2011

I received this book for free from Simon & Schuster Galley Grab in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: “Wither,” Lauren DeStefanoWitherby Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden #1
Published by Simon & Schuster on March, 2011
Genres: Dystopian
Pages: 356
Source: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab

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 limted time she has left.

I admit I wasn’t one of the ones scrabbling for months to get their hands on a copy of Wither. It was only when the title kept floating back to me that I decided to give it a shot. I couldn’t have been more pleased with what I found. Wither will make you think – hard. A must-read this year!

Like I said, I wasn’t one of the bloggers on the bandwagon from the start. I quite regret that now. There was so much hype and excitement surrounding this novel but I never really put any effort into doing my research on it until about a month ago. Sure, the cover was extremely gorgeous but there was nothing that stuck out to me that differentiated it from any of the other dystopian YA novels that were flooding in.

I was very wrong!

Wither hooked me in from the start; made me form an emotional bond with the main character, Rhine. You immediately start wondering how and why she was in this horrific situation. Things don’t just open up slowly with this book. As soon as you open the first page you’re smack-bang in the middle of it all. The first scenes are horrifying and in the back of my mind I’m thinking about the Jewish people in World War II and their transporation to the concentration camps.

Throughout the novel you will feel an array of emotion; hope, fear, disgust, shock, horror, awe, confusion… but most of all you feel the intense need to ‘escape’. Not from reading the book, of course, but for Rhine to escape this terrible prison she’s found herself in.

If you’re going into this story hoping for a brilliant romance, leave those hopes at the front cover. There’s of course an undertone of romance between Rhine and one of the attendants, Gabriel, but this isn’t the main focus – or pull – of the story. And don’t go into it expecting to like Rhine’s captor, Linden, either. While I felt he was at times meant to be pitied, I couldn’t help but feel utterly repulsed at the mere mention of him. Even when he was tender and vulnerable, I couldn’t help but shudder. Just thinking about the things he had done… especially with one of the other girls, Cecily.

I particularly liked the relationship between the three sister-wives. To me it was one of the main draws of the story. Jenna, Cecily and Rhine are completely different and they make the most unlikely of friends. I really felt their relationship was real and the power behind it was amazing, enough to even dispell the attention of their ‘husband’, Linden. I think other readers will find this relationship quite solid.

Slightly spoilery; I had no major points of concern with this book – to say it’s perfect would be quite fitting. The only thing I was remotely annoyed about was the fact none of the girls told their true story of origin to Linden. I think it would’ve been a way out, actually. If he truly knew the truth of their capture, I think he would’ve done something about it, maybe even made their ‘stay’ more agreeable even if he couldn’t release them. It’s what I would have done in the situation after gaining his trust and affection.

If you’re not sure whether Wither is the book for you, then do a little bit of research into the plot and the issues it deals with. But, I think if you like dystopian fiction, you’ll be amazed with this one. I can’t wait to see what the next book holds! I’ll definitely be picking it up when it comes out.

Recommended to: Fans of Dystopian fiction will be thoroughly pleased with this debut.

About Lauren DeStefano

Lauren DeStefano (pronounced: de STEFF ano) is a lawn gnome enthusiast and New York Times bestselling author of some books. For the first six years of her life, she thought she was a mermaid and still has her suspicions. When she isn't writing, she is often composing tweets that make as little sense as possible.


  • Reply Elodie February 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    I’m so glad you liked it !! I really can’t wait to receive it =) I love dystopian novels, besides this cover looks gorgeous !!

    • Reply Brittany February 24, 2011 at 3:39 am

      It was such a great read! I hope you receive your copy soon – and yes, the cover is one of my favourites!

  • Reply Alice Dwyer February 23, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    I cannot wait to read this! Everyone is just raving about it! I can so excited for its release :) Great review.

    • Reply Brittany February 24, 2011 at 3:39 am

      Thank you!!! It was such a great read, you’re sure to enjoy it!

  • Reply Marg February 23, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I wasn’t really that interested in reading this one until someone shared a teaser from it yesterday, and now I want it badly!

    • Reply Brittany February 23, 2011 at 11:09 am

      I’m so glad to hear it! :D I hope you enjoy it when you pick it up!

  • Reply Beth S. February 23, 2011 at 8:50 am

    I am in the same boat as you. I wasn’t all giddy with glee when I first heard about this book. I passed it by quite a few times, disregarding it as just another YA dystopia. After seeing it again and again on so many blogs though, I finally decided I needed to read it. I haven’t actually read it yet, but I did download it to my iPhone from NetGalley and am going to read it soon.

    • Reply Brittany February 23, 2011 at 9:15 am

      I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one who almost missed out on reading this one. I really hope you enjoy it!

  • Reply aleeza rauf February 23, 2011 at 8:12 am

    im sorry about the comment-spamming, but i sort of had to comment here. your review’s wonderful & i hope i love the book just as much as you did :)

    • Reply Brittany February 23, 2011 at 8:13 am

      No apology needed! I’m glad you enjoyed the review and I’m sure you’ll love the book!

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  • Reply Looksie Lovitz February 23, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Awesome review.

    I actually didn’t mind Linden. He’s just very ignorant of the situation and *spoilery* I think if the girls would have said something to Linden, Vaughn would have iced em. Linden was too trusting in Vaughn.

    • Reply Brittany February 23, 2011 at 7:58 am

      Thank you :)

      Yes, I know that’s true. I think in the situation I would have been willing to risk saying something, especially after a failed attempt at escape. I think I would have preferred to die than stay there :(

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