Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wither - Review & Giveaway

Title Wither
Author Lauren DeStefano
Genre YA Fantasy, Dystopia
Publisher  Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date March 22, 2011
How I Got This Book Purchased
Paperback 358 pages
Stand alone or Series The Chemical Garden #1
   My Average 71 pg/day
   Reading Difficulty 3
(on a scale of 1-5 5 = dictionary vernacular)

Chemical-Free Gardens

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. 

Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. 

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. 

Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive.

Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

So I know, this book's been out for a few years now. My cousin suggested it to me about a year ago, and it's been on my list of to-reads. Thanks to the TBR challenge, I am finally getting around to reading it.

This novel is like that Justin Timberlake movie - In Time, only with less credibility. Unfortunately, my science upbringing has won out over the fantasy of this novel and I just can't get past several of the geography/medical issues.  

Woohoo! Wooh:
Fantastic beginning, though it felt a little holocaust-like. With a little planing, I was able to push myself to finish this book in under a week, that's saying something about it, even if it didn't get the ratings others have given.

I like the idea, the concept, but I felt like it should have been hashed out a little better. It was as if the writer had this fantastic idea (Yes!) she wrote it (Yes!) then she failed to clean up some of the logistics (Noooo!).

I liked that Lindon was likable, but I wished he had been loveable. It would have been harder for the reader to continue with Rhine if they had truly connected with Lindon. I'm sure there aren't many "Team-Lindon" fans out there like there are with many other novels of like nature.

Truthfully, the first chapter, and the cover art was this book's saving grace.

There are a few unbelievable things that happen in this book:
  1. A virus kills young adults at a specific age. Women=20yrs, Men=25yrs.
    • Maybe genetic disorder would have been a better term. Something that's like a ticking time-bomb, the person is slowly getting worse and worse. While a virus can be contracted in the womb, it is something that replicates its self. If it replicated itself to the point of killing it's host, it wouldn't kill men at a different rate than women.
    • Really, a virus doesn't sound all that menecing. Currently, people get vaccinations for viruses like the flue. They are injected with the dead virus, the body combats the disease as if it were alive, initiating immune response. This may take several years to develop, and the development is always changing, because viruses are always adapting. But I don't see that 40-years after the discovery, humans haven't even taken a baby step forward in stopping the virus.
    • I am almost reminded of TB -characters coughing up blood, but TB is a bacterial infection, not a virus. Also, highly contagious. People cough all over Rhine, she wipes their blood off of her cheek several times. She should have been dead soon after Rose with the amount of infection she should have contracted.
  2. Whole continents disappear underwater. 
    • If whole continents disappeared underwater, the water-table would rise and the only bits of land above water would be places like the Himalayas, Rocky Mountain range... defiantly not a part of the country that currently resides at/or slightly above sea-level. 
  3. All but three in a van full of kidnapped girls are killed. 
    • I agree with what many people have said. Someone who's entire form of income is captured women -- which they went to a lot of extra expense/effort to capture the van full that Rhine arrives in --is not going to just euthanize all of the women not chosen. As was said in the beginning of the novel, there are many brothels and other, not-so-wealthy men who will gladly pay a little for the women these Gatherers have collected. 
    • Also, how is it that Cecily doesn't really seem to remember or care about that awful ride? She was just as much there as Rhine and Jenna were.
  4. Polygamy is acceptable, and in fact, encouraged.
  5. Snow in Florida (believable, but not at the consistency or depth)
    • Let me say it once more, SNOW, blizzard-like SNOW, was a part of more than half of the weather of this novel, the other half was filled with hurricanes. 
    • Also, basements in Florida & year-round rapid fire hurricanes? Come again?
    • It felt to me like the author just picked a coastal region and assumed (like many assume all Texan's ride horses to work/school) that Florida is pounded with hurricane after hurricane. Then once the rain stops, the blizzards start up. 
    • Maybe this would have been believable if there was some hint that the plate tectonics had shifted and Florida was no longer a part of the tropics.
There really wasn't much of a "turning-point" You find out (near the end) who's been informing Housemaster Vaughn of Rhine's un-wifley-like conduct-- no surprise there. Then the end just sort of happens. No big blow-out conflict. No fear that the main character may not make it out, that something is lurking just behind her ready to pounce. Destroy her hopes. Rhine accomplished exactly what she sets out to, with not so much as a glance in her direction. Yawn.

Rating: C

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Lauren DeStefano

College did amazing things for my writing. I majored in English with concentration in Creative Writing, and so many wonderful professors at Albertus Magnus College helped me to hone my writing on new and more challenging levels. Finally, a place for me to spread my writerly wings and focus on my one true passion. I looked forward to the roundtable workshops, critiques, peer-editing, and yes, even the red pen marks. It was in my late college years that I began my first novel. Though I'm still unsure if that novel will ever see the light of day, it taught me what I needed to know: I was capable of starting and finishing a whole body of work.

In 2007 I graduated and left the college world behind me. My writing is represented by Barbara Poelle of The Irene Goodman Literary Agency.


  1. You will feel many emotions with Linden through out the series... I believe he does become lovable toward the end

    1. I assumed he would continue on in the next novel. He was just kind-of there. A mouth-breather that Rhine had to overcome. There were times when I thought he might develop better, but fell flat each time.

  2. I am really excited to read this book! I am not sure how I feel about the holocaust thing but I can tell you that the virus killing specific age groups sounds interesting... I hate when it just comes out and says O this is what has been happening... but I am sure that I will enjoy it just as much. Thank you for this awesome giveaway!

    1. Yes, it was a fantastic idea. I was so excited about the different take.

  3. I actually liked this book :) Great review though, interesting points!

    Charlie xx

  4. Your review gave tons of information about Wither. Your opinion was very interesting. I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it at first, but your review really helped me on that. Thanks:)

  5. I read Wither a loooong time ago, and I thought it was Ok. Not good...Just ok. There was alot of issues with this book, but for some reason Linden got on my nerves the most! I don't even know why..!

    1. I agree. He was like a slobbering, untrained puppy. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading this novel, it just wasn't up there with some of the other great's I've read. Maybe it would have been if Linden had more of a personality in book 1 and the geographical/scientific issues had been fixed.