Review : Wither

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Pages : 358
Genre : Ya, Post-Apocalyptic, “Dystopia”
Series : The Chemical Garden, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Rhine grew up knowing her days were counted : in her world, males die at 25 and females at 20, and young girls are viewed as prized possessions, their only worth being their capacity for making babies.

Rhine is 16 when she gets kidnapped and married, along with two other girls, to a man she has never seen before. Despite her new home’s wealth and luxury, she has only one thought; to escape and find her twin brother. When she discovers her new father-in-law is using her sister wives as experiments, she knows it’s time to put her plan in motion.

My Thoughts :

First of all, I’m not sure dystopia is the right tag for it, hence the quote marks at the top; I use it more in the sense current YA literature uses it, as in “any post-apocalyptic society”. But, to be honest, Wither is more of a futuristic post-apocalyptic novel than one about a dystopian society. There is a distinction and while I do find it blurry at times, it’s an important one. If you’re not sure about this, I highly recommend this post at Giraffe Days.

Second of all, this is a bit of a generous 3 stars rating, mostly for “entertainment” value. Wither is not a bad novel and I can see why so many enjoyed it. It’s a terrifying world, and while many of us, I’m sure, have stories of grand-mothers or great-great-grand-mothers who had their first babies in their teen years, it doesn’t make Whither‘s world any less chilling. Plus, DeStefano’s writing was pleasant and had some great moments.

I was mostly interested and Rhine and her sisters’ story. The romance side, a little less. There is a form of love triangle in place but Rhine’s feelings are so unclear that, until close to the end, I wasn’t sure if there was a love triangle, a simple romance or just friendships. It was a bit refreshing to not have the romance being front and center for once, and I appreciated that.

I have read as many negative reviews as positive ones, many of which questioned whether Wither’s world made sense or not. These can easily be found on Goodreads and are worth the read if you like to discuss world building. I have to say that I did find it a little shaky; I would believe that if the world was in such a crucial need of babies, more young women would voluntarily offer themselves to marriages like the one Rhine is trying to escape. I’m not sure there would be such a need to kidnap young girls, and even less to kill a bunch of them… Unless I’m missing something?

I think it’s lucky that Linden (Rhine and her sister wives’ husband) was mostly a decent human being. Or not. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this one, to be honest. My first thought was that I was glad that he wasn’t forcing himself on these young girls; it would have made a horrible situation even more horrible if violence/rape was part of the deal. But then, what choice do these girls have? Sure, Rhine resists and isn’t forced into it, but then you have Jenna, who sleeps with him even though she despises him. It was all a bit icky, really. Just because I don’t want the difficult parts of life to be glossed over, doesn’t mean I don’t find it really hard to read at times – this was one of those times.

I’ll be reading the sequel because I do want to find more answers to my questions, and I’m hoping the author might offer some in Fever. But I was so torn about this novel while reading it, that I feel like this review is not going into a specific direction, negative or positive. So I’ll just sit comfortably in the middle, thank you very much.

Series Reading Order :

  1. Wither
  2. Fever
  3. (coming 2013)

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13 responses to “Review : Wither”

  1. robonobo says :

    Love to hear about sci-fi tales like this.
    There is so much more to science fiction than robots and space battles!

    • kay says :

      I agree! Though I love some of it, I am also interested in other aspects of sci-fi, like daily life and the impacts of science and technology on it.

      • robonobo says :

        Now you’re talking! John Wyndham is the guy for me. He looks at how subtle changes in how we live can have huge impacts on society. Big fan of ‘Trouble With Lichen’. Loved that ‘Melancholia’ film too. Low on special effects, high on atmosphere.

        • kay says :

          Oh, I have had Wyndham on my “to be read” list forever! I really should step away from YA novels for a while and remedy to that, I have heard many good things about his writing.
          I haven’t seen Melancholia yet. Though I enjoy special effects and action, atmosphere has always been more of my kind of thing; so I’ll add this to my to-do list, too!

  2. zibilee says :

    I liked this one, but had some issues with the plotting. At times it felt a little ponderous and slow, but overall, the world that it posits in very interesting and scary. I have the second book and need to make time for it. I hope that you get the chance to read it soon and I can get a chance to hear what you think of it as well. Fantastic review today!

    • kay says :

      It’s true that it had some slow moments, but overall it kept me reading. Definitely scary though! I just received my copy of Fever today, and I found myself surprisingly eager to read it. I will love to hear your thoughts, too!

  3. bermudaonion (Kathy) says :

    I’ve seen the wildly mixed reviews for this one too and since I don’t read a lot of dystopia or post-apocalyptic books, I’ll probably skip this one.

    • kay says :

      Yes, people are really divided on this one. It has some great points (even if I didn’t insist on those) but if that’s not your thing, it wouldn’t be my first recommendation of the genre, to be honest 🙂

  4. alitareads says :

    I enjoyed this book for the most part, but the weakest aspect of it for me was the ending. It just ended so abruptly and their escape seemed far too easy. I will definitely read the sequel, though, even if it’s just to see if their escape really was so straightforward.

    And now that you mention it, if they did need babies so badly, why *did* they kill all those girls? Hmmmm…

    • kay says :

      It’s true, the ending was very abrupt! It would probably be a good thing to have book 2 on hand when reading it (and hopefully, this one won’t end the same way!)
      I’m predicting that the escape won’t be this straightforward. I’m expecting the hold man to be on their steps all the way, or something similar! And maybe we’ll find out why they take such a bad care of the girls?

  5. Samantha says :

    I enjoyed reading your honest thoughts on this book! While I didn’t think that it was perfect either, I did really enjoy it while I was reading it. I’m really looking forward to reading the 2nd book as well (and hopefully soon!). Great review!

    • kay says :

      It really wasn’t all bad to me either, even though I focused more on the negatives in my review! My copy of Fever arrived yesterday and I was excited at the idea of reading it. Maybe I liked Wither more than I thought? It just wasn’t a favorite, I guess 🙂

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  1. Wither- Lauren Destefano | - March 12, 2012

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