Books Young Adult Fiction Wither (The Chemical Garden #1)

Wither (The Chemical Garden #1)

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3.8 (2)
 
4.1 (23)
1289   4
Genre(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
March 22, 2011
ISBN
978-1442409057
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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 Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

Editor reviews

Average editor rating from: 2 user(s)

Overall rating 
 
3.8
Plot 
 
3.5  (2)
Characters 
 
4.0  (2)
Writing Style 
 
4.0  (2)

I started Wither fully expecting to enjoy it. I did not, however, expect to get completely engrossed, to fall for the boys, to feel for the girls as intensely as I did.

My favorite thing about Wither was. . .Linden Ashby.

I fell in love with that innocent, naive boy-husband. He is only twenty-one years old. He has never seen the world, has lived under his father's seemingly caring thumb for his entire life. He knows so little about his wives, yet he loves them honestly and deeply. I expected to hate him, to despise him for imprisoning these women. Instead I fell in love with him, and I felt for Rhine every time she felt for him.

I also really connected with Rhine's feelings for her sister wives. I never had sisters, and it was really powerful to me to read about the connections she formed with Jenna and Cecily over the course of the book. Rhine was so real, so honest, and so believable - three things I highly value in a female protagonist.

Wither is a strong series debut, for fans of other trilogies like Shatter Me, Crewel, and Divergent.
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Eden Grey, Editor Reviewed by Eden Grey, Editor January 03, 2014
Top 50 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (92)

It will draw you in, tie you up, and never let you go.

I started Wither fully expecting to enjoy it. I did not, however, expect to get completely engrossed, to fall for the boys, to feel for the girls as intensely as I did.

My favorite thing about Wither was. . .Linden Ashby.

I fell in love with that innocent, naive boy-husband. He is only twenty-one years old. He has never seen the world, has lived under his father's seemingly caring thumb for his entire life. He knows so little about his wives, yet he loves them honestly and deeply. I expected to hate him, to despise him for imprisoning these women. Instead I fell in love with him, and I felt for Rhine every time she felt for him.

I also really connected with Rhine's feelings for her sister wives. I never had sisters, and it was really powerful to me to read about the connections she formed with Jenna and Cecily over the course of the book. Rhine was so real, so honest, and so believable - three things I highly value in a female protagonist.

Wither is a strong series debut, for fans of other trilogies like Shatter Me, Crewel, and Divergent.

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Another book I thought I could just read a few pages of and ended up finishing in less than 24 hours and the start of another trilogy. Like a moth to a flame = Me to an unfinished trilogy/series...*sigh*

I enjoyed this book. It's Dystopia meets TLC's "Sister Wives" meets "Twilight Zone" meets "Romeo and Juliet"., sort of. :) A beautiful cover and a well written story that's interesting, suspenseful, heart breaking, romantic and slightly creepy all at the same time.

In this story, 16 year old, Rhine Ellery, 19 year old Jenna and 13 year old Cecily are kidnapped from Manhattan and forced to become sister wives to Linden Ashby, the 20 year old son of rich scientist Vaughn Ashby. Dr. Ashby's lifelong goal is to find a cure for the "virus" that has been claiming the lives of the world's children for the past several generations. Females only live until the age of 20 and males only live until the age of 25 and no one can seem to figure out why. Dr. Ashby will do whatever it takes to prolong the life of his only son even at the expense of his daughter-in-laws lives.

Each of the wives views the marriage differently but Rhine only wants to escape and return to her twin brother, Rowan who has no idea what has happened to her. She thinks she has everyone in her new life figured out but slowly begins to realize that not everyone and everything is as it seems. She also discovers that there have been other wives before she and her "sisters" which adds a sinister twist. In her efforts to formulate an escape plan, she enlists the help of young, good looking Gabriel, one of the servants in her new home with whom she's developing a dangerous attraction to.

Ahh, Gabriel, like Rhine, he too is an orphan but has served at the mansion for so long he doesn't remember what life (freedom) is like outside of it but will do almost anything to help her escape. He's brave, compassionate but most of all he's kind even when those around him are not so nice to him.

Linden, Rhine's new husband is sheltered, clueless and needy but he does have a genuine love for her. He grows on you after awhile but I did find myself torn between feeling sorry for him and wanting to shake him and yell, "Wake up man!".

Linden's father is CREEPY! There's just no other word for him. It's like watching a scary movie when the bad guy is coming up to his next victim with a smile on his face and a knife behind his back and you're screaming at the person on the screen to "RUN AWAY!" but the person just walks right into the trap and ends up hacked to bits. Yep, that's Dr. Vaughn Ashby for you.

Cecily is the youngest and she's caught between still being a child and wanting so badly to be a woman. One minute she wants to be BFF's with Rhine and Jenna and the next minute she's a jealous wife. DeStefano did a great job of showing her internal battle with this and her external tantrums.

Jenna is probably my favorite character. She's stoic, feisty, graceful, funny, and incredibly selfless which you wouldn't expect given her background. We should all be so lucky to have a Jenna in our lives.

I liked the way this first book of the trilogy ended. It left me with a subtle peace, which I'm sure is a hologram* all it's own but I also can't wait for the next book!

*(if you read the book, you'll understand this reference)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Jen, Editor Reviewed by Jen, Editor February 28, 2012
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An interesting, suspenseful, romantic & slightly creeptastic read!

Another book I thought I could just read a few pages of and ended up finishing in less than 24 hours and the start of another trilogy. Like a moth to a flame = Me to an unfinished trilogy/series...*sigh*

I enjoyed this book. It's Dystopia meets TLC's "Sister Wives" meets "Twilight Zone" meets "Romeo and Juliet"., sort of. :) A beautiful cover and a well written story that's interesting, suspenseful, heart breaking, romantic and slightly creepy all at the same time.

In this story, 16 year old, Rhine Ellery, 19 year old Jenna and 13 year old Cecily are kidnapped from Manhattan and forced to become sister wives to Linden Ashby, the 20 year old son of rich scientist Vaughn Ashby. Dr. Ashby's lifelong goal is to find a cure for the "virus" that has been claiming the lives of the world's children for the past several generations. Females only live until the age of 20 and males only live until the age of 25 and no one can seem to figure out why. Dr. Ashby will do whatever it takes to prolong the life of his only son even at the expense of his daughter-in-laws lives.

Each of the wives views the marriage differently but Rhine only wants to escape and return to her twin brother, Rowan who has no idea what has happened to her. She thinks she has everyone in her new life figured out but slowly begins to realize that not everyone and everything is as it seems. She also discovers that there have been other wives before she and her "sisters" which adds a sinister twist. In her efforts to formulate an escape plan, she enlists the help of young, good looking Gabriel, one of the servants in her new home with whom she's developing a dangerous attraction to.

Ahh, Gabriel, like Rhine, he too is an orphan but has served at the mansion for so long he doesn't remember what life (freedom) is like outside of it but will do almost anything to help her escape. He's brave, compassionate but most of all he's kind even when those around him are not so nice to him.

Linden, Rhine's new husband is sheltered, clueless and needy but he does have a genuine love for her. He grows on you after awhile but I did find myself torn between feeling sorry for him and wanting to shake him and yell, "Wake up man!".

Linden's father is CREEPY! There's just no other word for him. It's like watching a scary movie when the bad guy is coming up to his next victim with a smile on his face and a knife behind his back and you're screaming at the person on the screen to "RUN AWAY!" but the person just walks right into the trap and ends up hacked to bits. Yep, that's Dr. Vaughn Ashby for you.

Cecily is the youngest and she's caught between still being a child and wanting so badly to be a woman. One minute she wants to be BFF's with Rhine and Jenna and the next minute she's a jealous wife. DeStefano did a great job of showing her internal battle with this and her external tantrums.

Jenna is probably my favorite character. She's stoic, feisty, graceful, funny, and incredibly selfless which you wouldn't expect given her background. We should all be so lucky to have a Jenna in our lives.

I liked the way this first book of the trilogy ended. It left me with a subtle peace, which I'm sure is a hologram* all it's own but I also can't wait for the next book!

*(if you read the book, you'll understand this reference)

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Overall rating 
 
4.1
Plot 
 
4.1  (22)
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3.9  (19)
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4.3  (19)
Yes, it made me cry!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Duks Castro Reviewed by Duks Castro August 03, 2013
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Whoa!

Yes, it made me cry!

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I picked Wither for my YA book club pick in September. Since I'm off on summer break, I thought I would get a head start on the reading before going back to work in a few weeks. I have heard many positive things about this series, but I really had no idea what to expect.


As the story begins, we know that the world as we know it has changed. A massive nuclear war has left all continents except North America decimated. Genetic modifications in the 21st century have caused horrific consequences for future generations. Now, girls die at the age of 20 and boys at 25. There is no antidote. In a desperate attempt to preserve life, some "Gatherers" have started collecting girls of child bearing age to auction off to the highest bidder. The lucky ones get married off to a wealthy benefactor. The not-so-lucky ones meet a much darker fate.


Enter Rhine, Jenna, and Cecily. They are each plucked from their daily lives at different ages to be married off to the rich Linden Ashby. His father, Housemaster Vaughn, is an evil snake set on discovering an antidote at any costs. These characters were interesting, but lacking in some areas. For instance, Jenna disappointed me. She spoke of hating Linden and Housemaster Vaughn for what they have done (and continue to do), but yet she hops between the sheets with Linden at any chance she gets. In one scene, it's pretty obvious she doesn't mind it either. Cecily is annoying. She's all about growing up too quickly and being a big shot, but she comes across as a whiny brat. I really couldn't handle her role in everything. Worst of all though, was Linden. He is his father's puppet and goes along with his ridiculous role in life without questioning anything. He (very) willingly marries three girls soon after his first wife's death. He has no problems with fulfilling the role of husband with girls as young as 13. That's so disgusting, considering he's 20! I just couldn't get over that.


I really hoped Rhine would be better, but she was only so-so. I liked that she kept to her original plans, but... It seems she had feelings for both Gabriel and Linden, but she never did much to interact with Gabriel. She always doubted herself and her feelings. For this type of book, there really needed to be a stronger female lead. I felt like a third row passenger while reading this book. I was not actively involved in the story, but there was just enough to keep me from zoning out completely.


I was impressed, however, with the writing. This was a debut book from a young writer that has obvious talent. I am exited to see how her writing develops and improves as this story continues to grow.



Do I think this is one of the greatest dystopians I've ever read? Not really. But I am glad I picked it for the September book club because I think the younger girls will enjoy it.
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Alanna Shaw Reviewed by Alanna Shaw July 29, 2013
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More romance than I expected

I picked Wither for my YA book club pick in September. Since I'm off on summer break, I thought I would get a head start on the reading before going back to work in a few weeks. I have heard many positive things about this series, but I really had no idea what to expect.


As the story begins, we know that the world as we know it has changed. A massive nuclear war has left all continents except North America decimated. Genetic modifications in the 21st century have caused horrific consequences for future generations. Now, girls die at the age of 20 and boys at 25. There is no antidote. In a desperate attempt to preserve life, some "Gatherers" have started collecting girls of child bearing age to auction off to the highest bidder. The lucky ones get married off to a wealthy benefactor. The not-so-lucky ones meet a much darker fate.


Enter Rhine, Jenna, and Cecily. They are each plucked from their daily lives at different ages to be married off to the rich Linden Ashby. His father, Housemaster Vaughn, is an evil snake set on discovering an antidote at any costs. These characters were interesting, but lacking in some areas. For instance, Jenna disappointed me. She spoke of hating Linden and Housemaster Vaughn for what they have done (and continue to do), but yet she hops between the sheets with Linden at any chance she gets. In one scene, it's pretty obvious she doesn't mind it either. Cecily is annoying. She's all about growing up too quickly and being a big shot, but she comes across as a whiny brat. I really couldn't handle her role in everything. Worst of all though, was Linden. He is his father's puppet and goes along with his ridiculous role in life without questioning anything. He (very) willingly marries three girls soon after his first wife's death. He has no problems with fulfilling the role of husband with girls as young as 13. That's so disgusting, considering he's 20! I just couldn't get over that.


I really hoped Rhine would be better, but she was only so-so. I liked that she kept to her original plans, but... It seems she had feelings for both Gabriel and Linden, but she never did much to interact with Gabriel. She always doubted herself and her feelings. For this type of book, there really needed to be a stronger female lead. I felt like a third row passenger while reading this book. I was not actively involved in the story, but there was just enough to keep me from zoning out completely.


I was impressed, however, with the writing. This was a debut book from a young writer that has obvious talent. I am exited to see how her writing develops and improves as this story continues to grow.



Do I think this is one of the greatest dystopians I've ever read? Not really. But I am glad I picked it for the September book club because I think the younger girls will enjoy it.

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This was a surprising read. I would never have picked it up on my own, but I’m glad to have read it. Wither is engaging and unique, and though it isn’t earth-shattering by any means, I liked it all the same.

I’ve read only a smattering of dystopian novels, and the setup for this seemed to be quite nearly the same as my other experiences. After World War Three, North America (The United States, to be specific), was the only landmass left populated. Science has made tremendous headway in spite of the world’s near-annhiliation, but it’s taken a bad turn and is now seen by most as ‘evil’. The heroine is affected by the ‘evil science’, and is on a quest to make her life count in spite of her problems. Really, DeStefano doesn’t bring anything new to the table here.

It’s all in the presentation.

Rhine’s character is wonderfully fresh and dynamic; her responses to the situation she’s placed in make sense. Her reaction to the idyllic life her husband presents her is reasonable, her sister wives are interesting and real.

And the author can write like nobody’s business. In YA, it’s the norm for an author to tell a good story, and this is no exception. But it’s less common for a good story to be told in brilliant prose. DeStefano is an excellent writer, undeniably.

The author seems determined to have only one ‘bad guy’. She makes great effort to clear Linden (the husband) of all guilt, and even the silly red-headed sister wife is made to look noble in the end. All the blame is laid at the feet of Linden’s dad, one of those ‘evil scientists’ who performs vivisection in order to discover the reason for mankind’s issues. Never mind the fact that he wants the best for his son. I think it’s very telling that the book’s ‘bad guy’ is a scientist.

And then there’s the age thing. Rhine’s domestic (AKA slave), is eight or nine years old, but she’s some kind of brilliant and unparalleled seamstress. Yes, I understand that the normal lifespan has dropped drastically, but I highly doubt an eight year old girl has the attention span to sit still long enough to a) learn how to sew; and b)sew endlessly, twelve hours a day. My sister is eleven, and she couldn’t do it. So really, the shortened lifespan is entirely unrealistic, and it annoyed me to no end.

A fantastic book. This is why I read YA—for those authors who really try and give more than a humdrum story. Recommended to anyone who loves the genre.
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Renae M Reviewed by Renae M March 25, 2013
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Wither

This was a surprising read. I would never have picked it up on my own, but I’m glad to have read it. Wither is engaging and unique, and though it isn’t earth-shattering by any means, I liked it all the same.

I’ve read only a smattering of dystopian novels, and the setup for this seemed to be quite nearly the same as my other experiences. After World War Three, North America (The United States, to be specific), was the only landmass left populated. Science has made tremendous headway in spite of the world’s near-annhiliation, but it’s taken a bad turn and is now seen by most as ‘evil’. The heroine is affected by the ‘evil science’, and is on a quest to make her life count in spite of her problems. Really, DeStefano doesn’t bring anything new to the table here.

It’s all in the presentation.

Rhine’s character is wonderfully fresh and dynamic; her responses to the situation she’s placed in make sense. Her reaction to the idyllic life her husband presents her is reasonable, her sister wives are interesting and real.

And the author can write like nobody’s business. In YA, it’s the norm for an author to tell a good story, and this is no exception. But it’s less common for a good story to be told in brilliant prose. DeStefano is an excellent writer, undeniably.

The author seems determined to have only one ‘bad guy’. She makes great effort to clear Linden (the husband) of all guilt, and even the silly red-headed sister wife is made to look noble in the end. All the blame is laid at the feet of Linden’s dad, one of those ‘evil scientists’ who performs vivisection in order to discover the reason for mankind’s issues. Never mind the fact that he wants the best for his son. I think it’s very telling that the book’s ‘bad guy’ is a scientist.

And then there’s the age thing. Rhine’s domestic (AKA slave), is eight or nine years old, but she’s some kind of brilliant and unparalleled seamstress. Yes, I understand that the normal lifespan has dropped drastically, but I highly doubt an eight year old girl has the attention span to sit still long enough to a) learn how to sew; and b)sew endlessly, twelve hours a day. My sister is eleven, and she couldn’t do it. So really, the shortened lifespan is entirely unrealistic, and it annoyed me to no end.

A fantastic book. This is why I read YA—for those authors who really try and give more than a humdrum story. Recommended to anyone who loves the genre.

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The plot was exceptional and it had some strong points. The thing that got to me the most was how boring it got after about page 30. I was really excited to see how this book would turn out and at the beginning I thought, " Wow, this is going to be an AWESOME book!". But, I am sad to say I was kinda disappointed in the author of the book. Instead of a exciting, adventurous novel with swooning love, it was a boring, sucky, book overall. I did like some parts of the story but that was only a little bit of the book. The concept of the book is weird( I mean little girls the same age as me wanting to have babies!) and to say the least, creepy. The romance in it I didn't feel at all. She only liked Linden because when compared to his father he seemed nice. When, in reality he is just a shy, awkward boy who doesn't know what the real world is like. I sorta liked Gabriel but in the end he wanted her to stay in the mansion. I would have never wanted her to stay in that creepy place! I don't know exactly how to rate this book so I just gave it a 3 star. I would maybe recommend this book to people who like creepy books with a sliver of a story line. I will probably read the second book just to see what happens to her and Gabriel.
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Kierra Reviewed by Kierra November 10, 2012
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Interesting Storyline, but a bit boring after the beginning.

The plot was exceptional and it had some strong points. The thing that got to me the most was how boring it got after about page 30. I was really excited to see how this book would turn out and at the beginning I thought, " Wow, this is going to be an AWESOME book!". But, I am sad to say I was kinda disappointed in the author of the book. Instead of a exciting, adventurous novel with swooning love, it was a boring, sucky, book overall. I did like some parts of the story but that was only a little bit of the book. The concept of the book is weird( I mean little girls the same age as me wanting to have babies!) and to say the least, creepy. The romance in it I didn't feel at all. She only liked Linden because when compared to his father he seemed nice. When, in reality he is just a shy, awkward boy who doesn't know what the real world is like. I sorta liked Gabriel but in the end he wanted her to stay in the mansion. I would have never wanted her to stay in that creepy place! I don't know exactly how to rate this book so I just gave it a 3 star. I would maybe recommend this book to people who like creepy books with a sliver of a story line. I will probably read the second book just to see what happens to her and Gabriel.

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If a book can command my attention in the first few pages, then it has my heart. To be completely immersed in a story from the very beginning is truly a treat. As soon as I opened Wither, met Rhine and found out what had befallen her, there was no turning back. I read this book with a ravenous appetite, pausing only briefly to jot notes about what I wanted to share with you. Yes, that is how amazing this book is.

Rhine became my hero from the first moment that I met her. Her character is so brave in the face of danger, in the face of adversity. Even when she wasn't sure that she would ever be able to find her brother again she was hopeful. I loved how she simply refused to roll over and accept her fate. I am truly a fan of strong female characters, and Rhine fits that description more than anyone. Her story is heartbreaking, but she is able to stay her same vivid self throughout the entire ordeal. I was enraptured.

The world that Lauren DeStefano builds for the reader is truly beautiful and terrible at the same time. As I mentioned above, the reader is instantly immersed in the world of these characters. It is fascinating to watch these characters as they move through the story. Rhine and her sister wives are young women, and yet they are thrown into the lives of much older women. Watching their plight was so difficult, but I could see the glimmer of hope underneath. Their story pulled me in and kept me captivated the entire time. Add in some exquisite writing, and you have a book that I truly fell in love with.

Since this book is not due out for a while, I won't write anything that might spoil the journey for you. I will say though that the ending to this book was simply perfect to me. After reading so many books lately whose endings were disappointing, reading Wither was truly a treat from cover to cover.
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Jessica Reviewed by Jessica September 21, 2012
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Wither

If a book can command my attention in the first few pages, then it has my heart. To be completely immersed in a story from the very beginning is truly a treat. As soon as I opened Wither, met Rhine and found out what had befallen her, there was no turning back. I read this book with a ravenous appetite, pausing only briefly to jot notes about what I wanted to share with you. Yes, that is how amazing this book is.

Rhine became my hero from the first moment that I met her. Her character is so brave in the face of danger, in the face of adversity. Even when she wasn't sure that she would ever be able to find her brother again she was hopeful. I loved how she simply refused to roll over and accept her fate. I am truly a fan of strong female characters, and Rhine fits that description more than anyone. Her story is heartbreaking, but she is able to stay her same vivid self throughout the entire ordeal. I was enraptured.

The world that Lauren DeStefano builds for the reader is truly beautiful and terrible at the same time. As I mentioned above, the reader is instantly immersed in the world of these characters. It is fascinating to watch these characters as they move through the story. Rhine and her sister wives are young women, and yet they are thrown into the lives of much older women. Watching their plight was so difficult, but I could see the glimmer of hope underneath. Their story pulled me in and kept me captivated the entire time. Add in some exquisite writing, and you have a book that I truly fell in love with.

Since this book is not due out for a while, I won't write anything that might spoil the journey for you. I will say though that the ending to this book was simply perfect to me. After reading so many books lately whose endings were disappointing, reading Wither was truly a treat from cover to cover.

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I know that we really shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but in this case the cover of this book is a great representation of the story within. Eerie, sad and beautiful, this story really sticks with you. It is a tale filled with beautiful places, dazzling parties and sinister purposes that hold the reader until the last page and leave them with both a feeling of outstanding exhilaration and intense foreboding. I put off reading this book for so long because I just wasn't sure that it would be able to live up to my expectations. In the end it mostly did, but a part of me feels like the darkness of this book really weighed it down too much. However, that same darkness is what made it so enjoyable. Perhaps those conflicting feelings are what makes Wither so special.

LIKES:

Beautiful storytelling and world-building: DeStefano's writing has a way of bringing the reader into the story and making them feel totally encapsulated in her world. The imagery used and the history/memory building is really fantastic. I just kept wanting to know more and more about Rhine and her little world and it was so much fun learning about it.
Thought-provoking: This point really goes along with the world-building. DeStefano's picture of this horrifying new America in the not-to-distant future really makes you think about your place on the planet now and appreciate that we are not the only ones here. In Rhine's world all of the other countries have been totally decimated. Paris is just a memory, China has vanished, and Germany only exists in old atlases. Rhine's America is completely alone in the world and for some reason this really bothered me, in the best possible way. Don't get me wrong, I wave my flag and love a good fireworks display on the Fourth of July, just like most Americans, but I also like knowing that there are different cultures and places yet to be explored out there. I can't imagine being the last country on earth and what that would mean. DeStefano has made this world so believable that you can't help but reflect upon it.
We're only here for a little while: A huge theme in this book is time. In the world of Wither men only live to be 25 and women only 20 so throughout the book Rhine and her companions are trying to make the most of the time they have left in different ways. The best part about this theme is that it doesn't just apply to DeSefano's characters. Sure we may have more like 80-something years on Earth but in the grand scheme of things that's no time at all. There are tortoises walking around that were born before our great grand parents after all. While reading Wither, I found myself reflecting on how short of a time we really have here and how important it is not to waste it. This is a great thing to be reminded of, especially in such a fun, creepy way and really helps you relate to Rhine and her sister wives.


DISLIKES:


Again with the child-prostitution: Okay so I realize that there is a reason that this issue is included in the book: to underline the creepiness and cruelty of Rhine's world. Still, I will never get used to seeing this in books. One of Rhine's sister wives is only 13 at the beginning of this book! 13! Gross. Just not my cup of tea.
Why romance? (POSSIBLE SPOILERS): The whole romance aspect of this book just seems pointless. There are basically two potential love interests in the story (yay love triangles, not). First there is Rhine's husband, Linden. He is a whimpy, clueless man who's father is holding Rhine prisoner. Not to mention he goes around impregnating 13 year olds (not cool). Why Rhine would even entertain the idea of being with this guy voluntarily is beyond me. Then we have Gabriel. He has his own drawbacks, mainly that he seems sort of okay living in this awful place and might have a pretty bad case of Stockholm Syndrome. Mostly, though, my problem with him as a romantic interest is that Rhine doesn't really know him at all. This is one of those books where I really don't see the need for romantic entanglements. I feel like they had a good story and then shoved some romance in for good measure. Not a fan.


IN BETWEEN:

Very dark: And when I say dark I don't mean sort of spooky with some gore mixed in. I mean chopping up bodies in a basement dark. In a way this made it really unpleasant to read sometimes. At the same time though, this darkness is what gives the book its appeal and what keeps the reader going. You want to find out what's going on and suffering mentally along with Rhine makes you want that payoff even more.


In the end, I was really glad that I decided to go ahead and read this one. Even though it left me with some icky feelings and questions about my own cynicism, I really enjoyed it. I would recommend this to all lovers of dystopian, not so much for the romantics. I will definitely be checking out Fever and the final book in the trilogy Sever soon!
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Catie Taylor Reviewed by Catie Taylor August 25, 2012
Top 500 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (11)

Very dark, but nice read

I know that we really shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but in this case the cover of this book is a great representation of the story within. Eerie, sad and beautiful, this story really sticks with you. It is a tale filled with beautiful places, dazzling parties and sinister purposes that hold the reader until the last page and leave them with both a feeling of outstanding exhilaration and intense foreboding. I put off reading this book for so long because I just wasn't sure that it would be able to live up to my expectations. In the end it mostly did, but a part of me feels like the darkness of this book really weighed it down too much. However, that same darkness is what made it so enjoyable. Perhaps those conflicting feelings are what makes Wither so special.

LIKES:

Beautiful storytelling and world-building: DeStefano's writing has a way of bringing the reader into the story and making them feel totally encapsulated in her world. The imagery used and the history/memory building is really fantastic. I just kept wanting to know more and more about Rhine and her little world and it was so much fun learning about it.
Thought-provoking: This point really goes along with the world-building. DeStefano's picture of this horrifying new America in the not-to-distant future really makes you think about your place on the planet now and appreciate that we are not the only ones here. In Rhine's world all of the other countries have been totally decimated. Paris is just a memory, China has vanished, and Germany only exists in old atlases. Rhine's America is completely alone in the world and for some reason this really bothered me, in the best possible way. Don't get me wrong, I wave my flag and love a good fireworks display on the Fourth of July, just like most Americans, but I also like knowing that there are different cultures and places yet to be explored out there. I can't imagine being the last country on earth and what that would mean. DeStefano has made this world so believable that you can't help but reflect upon it.
We're only here for a little while: A huge theme in this book is time. In the world of Wither men only live to be 25 and women only 20 so throughout the book Rhine and her companions are trying to make the most of the time they have left in different ways. The best part about this theme is that it doesn't just apply to DeSefano's characters. Sure we may have more like 80-something years on Earth but in the grand scheme of things that's no time at all. There are tortoises walking around that were born before our great grand parents after all. While reading Wither, I found myself reflecting on how short of a time we really have here and how important it is not to waste it. This is a great thing to be reminded of, especially in such a fun, creepy way and really helps you relate to Rhine and her sister wives.


DISLIKES:


Again with the child-prostitution: Okay so I realize that there is a reason that this issue is included in the book: to underline the creepiness and cruelty of Rhine's world. Still, I will never get used to seeing this in books. One of Rhine's sister wives is only 13 at the beginning of this book! 13! Gross. Just not my cup of tea.
Why romance? (POSSIBLE SPOILERS): The whole romance aspect of this book just seems pointless. There are basically two potential love interests in the story (yay love triangles, not). First there is Rhine's husband, Linden. He is a whimpy, clueless man who's father is holding Rhine prisoner. Not to mention he goes around impregnating 13 year olds (not cool). Why Rhine would even entertain the idea of being with this guy voluntarily is beyond me. Then we have Gabriel. He has his own drawbacks, mainly that he seems sort of okay living in this awful place and might have a pretty bad case of Stockholm Syndrome. Mostly, though, my problem with him as a romantic interest is that Rhine doesn't really know him at all. This is one of those books where I really don't see the need for romantic entanglements. I feel like they had a good story and then shoved some romance in for good measure. Not a fan.


IN BETWEEN:

Very dark: And when I say dark I don't mean sort of spooky with some gore mixed in. I mean chopping up bodies in a basement dark. In a way this made it really unpleasant to read sometimes. At the same time though, this darkness is what gives the book its appeal and what keeps the reader going. You want to find out what's going on and suffering mentally along with Rhine makes you want that payoff even more.


In the end, I was really glad that I decided to go ahead and read this one. Even though it left me with some icky feelings and questions about my own cynicism, I really enjoyed it. I would recommend this to all lovers of dystopian, not so much for the romantics. I will definitely be checking out Fever and the final book in the trilogy Sever soon!

Was this review helpful to you? 
I completely understand what all the raving was about now. This book was A-mazing. Seriously. I'm hoping I don't gush all over this review with its amazingness.

To start, the concept was much different than any other dystopian I've read. Most are simply a post-apocalyptic world or a society with major flaws. I found it a bit difficult to imagine a world where most things still appear normal in the sense of how we see the world now knowing it was dystopian. It was also hard to imagine a world where "men" can be 15. I mean, the people who were "old" and close to death were only a year older than myself. It's crazy.

The writing in Wither was absolutely fantastic. It was beautiful and yet morose. The descriptions of everything from snow to fancy dresses were so fantastic, I wanted to be there myself despite the hopelessness of the world. And the characters DeStefano creates are just as fantastic as the writing itself. I found myself feeling sympathy for Linden though I knew I should hate him as Rhine did. Speaking of Rhine. I loved her. She was so genuine and yet still a strong lead. Instead of being all pushy and in-your-face about her strength and determination, though, she kept it underneath the surface making me respect her all the more.

I was so torn between how I wanted it to end. I both wanted Rhine to escape and to stay. In the end, I was happy with the ending but it sadly didn't leave me with that "I need more now!" feeling. If the cover didn't say Trilogy right on it, I could have easily assumed this was a standalone. Don't mistake that minor whining on my part to be a true complaint, though. I will be awaiting the next in the series as you most certainly will when you read it.

Final thoughts: Any fan of dystopia will definitely want to get their hands on this. If you're wary of dystopian or think you don't like it, give this one a try. It's a different vibe than the "despair, despair, despair" of others. Go to the bookstore, library, borrow from a friend: whatever you need to do, go get this book immediately.
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Jasmine Reviewed by Jasmine August 16, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (326)

Wither (A Room with Books review)

I completely understand what all the raving was about now. This book was A-mazing. Seriously. I'm hoping I don't gush all over this review with its amazingness.

To start, the concept was much different than any other dystopian I've read. Most are simply a post-apocalyptic world or a society with major flaws. I found it a bit difficult to imagine a world where most things still appear normal in the sense of how we see the world now knowing it was dystopian. It was also hard to imagine a world where "men" can be 15. I mean, the people who were "old" and close to death were only a year older than myself. It's crazy.

The writing in Wither was absolutely fantastic. It was beautiful and yet morose. The descriptions of everything from snow to fancy dresses were so fantastic, I wanted to be there myself despite the hopelessness of the world. And the characters DeStefano creates are just as fantastic as the writing itself. I found myself feeling sympathy for Linden though I knew I should hate him as Rhine did. Speaking of Rhine. I loved her. She was so genuine and yet still a strong lead. Instead of being all pushy and in-your-face about her strength and determination, though, she kept it underneath the surface making me respect her all the more.

I was so torn between how I wanted it to end. I both wanted Rhine to escape and to stay. In the end, I was happy with the ending but it sadly didn't leave me with that "I need more now!" feeling. If the cover didn't say Trilogy right on it, I could have easily assumed this was a standalone. Don't mistake that minor whining on my part to be a true complaint, though. I will be awaiting the next in the series as you most certainly will when you read it.

Final thoughts: Any fan of dystopia will definitely want to get their hands on this. If you're wary of dystopian or think you don't like it, give this one a try. It's a different vibe than the "despair, despair, despair" of others. Go to the bookstore, library, borrow from a friend: whatever you need to do, go get this book immediately.

Was this review helpful to you? 
Let me start off by saying this is truly one of the most amazing covers I have ever seen. The second book is just as awesome, too. It’s definitely what attracted me to the book and after reading the premise, I was quite intrigued.

I really liked how unique and creative Lauren was about this world. Life lasts only until you’re 25, 20 for females, with girls being bought and sold to men like play toys?! Wow! Right from the start Lauren paints a dark and twisted picture where poor Rhine has to adapt to her new life and try her best to escape it. The characters are what really draws you in since most of the book is either Rhine monologuing, which was a bit too much for me, or her interactions with the other characters. Linden is very sweet, and clearly a good guy in a terrible situation. His father, the Housemater, however, is quite horrific and a true villain if I ever saw one!

There wasn’t a lot of action in this book and like I said, a bit too much inner monologuing, but the series itself does have potential. While it’s true that Wither was kind of slow and dragged out for me, I’m curious to see Rhine’s future and how this all plays out. I’ll be looking forward to reading Fever.
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Vi, Editor Reviewed by Vi, Editor August 14, 2012
Top 50 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (67)

A creative and original world, although a bit too slow for me

Let me start off by saying this is truly one of the most amazing covers I have ever seen. The second book is just as awesome, too. It’s definitely what attracted me to the book and after reading the premise, I was quite intrigued.

I really liked how unique and creative Lauren was about this world. Life lasts only until you’re 25, 20 for females, with girls being bought and sold to men like play toys?! Wow! Right from the start Lauren paints a dark and twisted picture where poor Rhine has to adapt to her new life and try her best to escape it. The characters are what really draws you in since most of the book is either Rhine monologuing, which was a bit too much for me, or her interactions with the other characters. Linden is very sweet, and clearly a good guy in a terrible situation. His father, the Housemater, however, is quite horrific and a true villain if I ever saw one!

There wasn’t a lot of action in this book and like I said, a bit too much inner monologuing, but the series itself does have potential. While it’s true that Wither was kind of slow and dragged out for me, I’m curious to see Rhine’s future and how this all plays out. I’ll be looking forward to reading Fever.

Was this review helpful to you? 
I am surprised by how much I actually liked this! I had read so many different reviews about it, that I just had a negative outlook on it.
I need to stop doing that, really, reading reviews before I read the book!

But I have grown to love dystopian novels. This one in particular is something that I would definitely not like being thrown into. The world is a scary one with no hope.
The story in itself is something I had never read about before, and the further I got into the book, the more I was growing attached to the three sister wives. Also, I feel sorry for Linden!

I’m ready for the next one!
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Emily Savant Reviewed by Emily Savant August 11, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (269)

Surprisingly Good!

I am surprised by how much I actually liked this! I had read so many different reviews about it, that I just had a negative outlook on it.
I need to stop doing that, really, reading reviews before I read the book!

But I have grown to love dystopian novels. This one in particular is something that I would definitely not like being thrown into. The world is a scary one with no hope.
The story in itself is something I had never read about before, and the further I got into the book, the more I was growing attached to the three sister wives. Also, I feel sorry for Linden!

I’m ready for the next one!

Was this review helpful to you? 
ISBN: 9781442409057
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 358

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?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Wither by Lauren DeStefano! I really liked the concept behind this dystopian tale, where rather than the characters benefitting from the genetic experiment, they end up having to alter their society to cope with their shorter lifespans! I also enjoyed how Wither was actually written, it flowed well! My favourite characters were Gabriel and Rhine. Both of them were confined to Linden’s mansion, although for different purposes. Rhine’s purpose was to be a replacement for Linden’s first wife, whilst Gabriel’s role was to be a servant. I love the scientific cover of Wither! The “circle arrows” on the cover are not only quite modern and trendy, they also link up the different elements within the cover to each other (and the story within!).

Available at Amazon.co.uk.
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

ISBN: 9781442409057
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 358

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?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Wither by Lauren DeStefano! I really liked the concept behind this dystopian tale, where rather than the characters benefitting from the genetic experiment, they end up having to alter their society to cope with their shorter lifespans! I also enjoyed how Wither was actually written, it flowed well! My favourite characters were Gabriel and Rhine. Both of them were confined to Linden’s mansion, although for different purposes. Rhine’s purpose was to be a replacement for Linden’s first wife, whilst Gabriel’s role was to be a servant. I love the scientific cover of Wither! The “circle arrows” on the cover are not only quite modern and trendy, they also link up the different elements within the cover to each other (and the story within!).

Available at Amazon.co.uk.

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