Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
The Chemical Garden #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing; March 22, 2011
Paperback, 358 pages
Borrowed from library

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?

- Description from

Three words: Wither disappointed me. And I am so sad to say that because I really thought I was going to love this one as much as everyone else did. However, there just way too many things I had qualms about that just made this book a flop for me.

Firstly, the world building. I. Don't. Get. This. World. I mean, here's me, the person who barely ever pays attention in science and who is known to avoid thinking as much as possible, and even I know that this world makes as little sense as the simple statement: There are two suns in our galaxy.There was little explanation to this new world set in the future where all continents except for North America have been reduced to little islands, both Antarctica and the Arctic have been reduced to water by warfare, and now somehow amongst all this chaos, cancer has been cured but as a result, girls now die at 20 and boys die at 25. None of this makes any logical sense. And especially not when you've been given an iota of information to back it all up. Furthermore, I felt like all that chaos prior to this new future was merely added to emphasize the terribleness of their society and maybe make some statement about how war is bad. There was no regard for whether or not it made scientific sense and thus, I felt like a lot of it was superfluous and could have been taken out.

I also felt like there were inconsistencies with some of the characters. Let's start with Gabriel who seems to fall in love with Rhine upon first sight. Gabriel is Rhine's servant and he's basically supposed to give her her food and you know, get her whatever she wants. Now Gabriel has this terribly controlling boss named Vaughn who just so happens to be Linden's first-generation scientist father. He is menacing and creepy. If you were to work under him and you knew that if you broke one of the rules (which I presume would include "not fraternizing with the sister wives") you would be punished, why would you be flirting with Rhine? I mean, creepy guy is out to get you and you're flirting with her? Seriously, if I were Gabriel, I would be more worried about staying on Vaughn's good side no matter how much I love Rhine. Dude, if you're dead, you won't be able to see Rhine ever again. Think about that next time you go off with her.

And now for my sweet Rhine. Who's caught in a love triangle between Linden and Gabriel. Boy, is she indecisive! She says she wants to escape but half the time she's going on and on about how nice Linden is (though apparently she hates him) and blah blah blah. It's only until three quarters of the book in where Rhine actually makes a move on with her escaping and man, when it happened, I felt like "Why didn't she do this earlier???" because it seemed so EASY. I was honestly ripping my hair out because I was so frustrated. And is it just me but I liked Linden way more than Gabriel. I'm not saying that Linden was any good but Gabriel just felt so one-dimensional. I was rolling my eyes every time his name was printed on the page.

But I think the one thing that really pushed me to read on (and it wasn't Rhine's escape because excuse me, she didn't do that until the end) was Lauren DeStefano's writing. I loved it. It was gripping and she had me flipping pages like crazy at the beginning. I would seriously consider reading another one of her works simply for her writing. It was the only thing I really enjoyed in Wither.

While the writing is fantastic, I did not like waiting for Rhine to escape. The world made no logical or scientific sense and the characters were just downright aggravating. My verdict:


  1. I felt EXACTLY the same way you did about this book! I really liked the writing but had problems with just about everything else, from the sketchy world-building to why Rhine would be interested in a character as flat as Gabriel was. And Rhine- she tried my patience severely with her repeated whining about how she needed to escape the mansion, yet she wasn't making much of an effort to do so.

  2. Well, glad to know I'm not alone in my opinion! :) I thought all of the characters were incredibly unlikable. None of them appealed to me much at all. However, I really did love Lauren's writing and I would definitely pick up another book by her for the writing...just as long as it's not a dystopian.