Saturday, 13 August 2011

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Released: August 4th 2011
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

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 she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.
(from Goodreads)

Wither is a brilliant dystopian novel that took me completely by surprise. I expected it to be good, considering all the hype surrounding it, but it completely surpassed my expectations! The cover isn’t the only gorgeous thing about this book – Lauren DeStefano’s writing had me totally engrossed in the dangerous and frightening word she had created, and I fell in love with the story almost immediately.

Wither is the kind of book that throws you straight into the action. From the very first page, we were chucked into the story, and had to come to terms with the horror of what was happening to Rhine very quickly. This immediate plunge into Rhine’s harsh world had a great impact on us as readers, and I think I really got the feel of the sinister nature of the future she was living in. Rhine was a very intriguing character in my opinion – she had just been kidnapped, and was forced, along with two other girls, to be the bride of a man she had never met, yet she was strangely in control of herself, and the whole time was just constantly thinking of ways to escape. I really connected with her, because it was so easy to see how terrible the situation she was in must have been for her, or for any girl. However, Rhine, while she could be kind and caring and thoughtful, was also certainly very cunning, and was planning an escape in her head the entire time she was with her husband Linden, using whatever means necessary to try and achieve her goal. I really liked her determination and refusal to give up even when struggling with her feelings, and it was something that set her apart from her sister wives.

Possibly one of my favourite part of the book was the dynamic between Rhine and her sister wives, Cecily and Jenna – two girls who were also married to Linden. At first, Rhine felt very detached to them, and struggled to open up to them or even talk to them at all. However, as things progressed, the relationship between these three teenagers became very close, and Rhine felt as though these girls could really be part of her family (though they could never replace her twin brother, Rowan, who she was separated from, and missing a lot). Cecily was the youngest wife at only thirteen, and was the most naive of them all, thinking that her new life was wonderful, and Rhine felt a sense of responsibility for her, sickened by the fact that someone as young as Cecily could be forced into such a horrible situation. Jenna was the quiet, solemn one - grieving for the loss of her sisters, who were murdered before she arrived at Linden’s mansion. The bonds between the girls were very interesting to read about – Rhine felt closer to her sister wives than she did to her own husband, and feared for them as she would fear for herself. Jenna understood Rhine the most, I think, and tried to help her out as much as possible, even if it meant having to spend time with Linden, who she hated.

Linden was another interesting character. While I didn’t like him, I feel it would be unfair to say I hated him, because he simply didn’t know enough about his wicked father’s actions to be labelled as a despicable person. However, he was incredibly naive and gullible, and I mostly just felt sorry for him, because he was being lied to by his father every day of his life. His story with his first wife, Rose, was also a tragic one – she died shortly after he married Rhine and the others, and was the wife that he truly loved. Nevertheless, I felt like he expected too much from his wives while not even bothering to really get to know them, and I just couldn’t bring myself to care too much about a man so self-centred. His father Housemaster Vaughn, however, was so disgustingly evil that he made Linden look like a moral exemplar, and Rhine, her sister wives and practically the entire mansion were controlled by Vaughn - whatever he said went, and no-one could say otherwise.

Amidst these unpleasant people, though, was Gabriel, Rhine’s attendant. While I felt we maybe didn’t see enough of Gabriel, I really liked him – he was incredibly sweet and did all these thoughtful little things for Rhine, like slip in her napkin her favourite sweets at breakfast, and he really made Rhine’s life in the mansion more bearable. He was the only person she completely trusted and could tell everything to, and his friendship kept her sane and allowed her to remember that she was not just a wife, but a person with an identity, and a brother that she needed to get back to. He worried about her too, and was so cute when he did, and I loved seeing their relationship blossom – I just wish we could have seen more of them together. The ending suggests that we will in the future, so I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series.

Overall, Wither was an extremely enjoyable read, and I loved getting to know Rhine. I can’t wait for Fever (book two) and I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed Delirium by Lauren Oliver, or to anyone who enjoys dystopian novels in general.


  1. I want this book even more now. Great review. Think this will have to be the next one I buy.


  2. Great review!!! I really can't wait to read this, it sounds really good. :) I need to get it from the library soon!

  3. I am so, so, so happy you loved this! It was such a brilliant novel, that first page gripped me tight and would not let go for a moment afterwards. I loved the bond between the sister-wives aswell and Linden messed with my emotions. Because I wanted to hate him, but you just can't. Ugh, yes, totally agree about Vaughn! Sadly I'm both repulsed and fascinated at potentially seeing more of him in the sequel (which I'm sure I read we will).

    Anyway, love your review, Liz! Now we shall share the suffering wait together until Fever :D

  4. I just got this in the post today and it sounds so good!! Thanks for the great review, looking forward to reading it even more now

    The Cait Files

  5. I am so excited for book 2 too, waiting until February
    Thanks for the great review:)

  6. I actually liked Linden more than Gabriel, haha. But we all have our opinions, though I think we can all agree on wanting the second book, ASAP!

  7. Yes, you have to feel bad for him being oblivious to his evil father! This was a great book, I'm eager for Fever too.

  8. I am one of the few people who struggled with this. I think I read too many books about matching etc around the same time. I am definitely going to have to pick up again when book 2 comes out. Brilliant review :)

  9. I struggled with Wither a good bit. I thought the idea was great, but parts fell flat, including Gabriel. That said, I'm eager to try book two :)

  10. Wow, great review. I need to get to this one soon!

  11. I really loved Wither as well and I'm eager to see what will happen in Fever. Lauren DeStefano's writing was so beautiful to read... and the world she created just came to life so easily. Wonderful review!

  12. Great review! I'm glad you loved this book! I'm very excited to read the sequel!


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