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Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Thursday, August 18, 2011
5 Stars: Incredible
Series: The Chemical Garden #1
Hardback: 358 Pages
Publication: March 22, 2011 by Simon & Schuster

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.

Lauren DeStefano brings forth a frighteningly realistic view of the future in her debut novel Wither, the first in a planned trilogy. The cure to all illnesses has been discovered. However, World War III destroyed every continent except for North America, and no one lives past his or her twenties. Faced with shorter lifespans, the Governors—the ruling wealthy class—take multiple wives in the hopes of bringing forth progeny while they are young. Rhine Ellery is kidnapped by the Gatherers and sold as a bride to Linden Ashton. As Linden begins to fall for Rhine, she has only two things on her mind: escape, and the servant Gabriel for whom she's beginning to develop feelings herself.

Rhine is a strong heroine. Despite the low chances of escape, she seizes every opportunity to explore the grounds of the Ashton grounds in the hopes of finding an opening while maintaining the facade of a doting wife and protecting her virginity. She is also a very emotional teenager and continuously worries about those she cares about.

DeStefano has a beautiful writing style filled with vivid imagery. She describes the beautiful grounds of the Ashton estate and its illusions in such detail that you feel as though she takes you there through the pages. Flashback with Rhine, and you also see the horrors faced by those living in poverty: the grime, the fears, and the harsh decisions made a necessity for survival. There are mature themes in the novel exploring death, lust, and love that make this inappropriate for younger reads. Still, while you know that sex takes place in the novel, none of these scenes are shown. DeStefano's setting is further strengthened with unique personalities that bring this story to life.

Wither centers on Rhine’s goal of escape, leaving a lot of world building left for the next two books. I believe that many of us would like to know where the idea of polygamy originated and why the division between the poor and the wealthy has grown so big. If we had retreated to a medieval culture where people marry younger, it would have made sense, but polygamy? In addition, the fight of pro-naturals against pro-science is introduced but hasn’t been fully developed. I expect to see more of this in the second book Fever (which will be published February 2012) along with the romance between Rhine and Gabriel!


A copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
1 comment on "Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano"
  1. I can't wait to read this one, thanks for the awesome review! Now I want to read it right now:)


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