Wither by Lauren DeStefano
* March 22, 2011 *
– YA, dystopian –
reviewed by Tara SG
received for review via Around the World Tours
Book Order (The Chemical Garden Trilogy)
- Wither (Mar 22, 2011) * * * * *
Author’s Website : www.laurendestefano.com
Author’s Twitter : @LaurenDeStefano
Add To Your GoodReads TBR List (319 ratings : 4.23 avg)
In Six Words
distressingly touching mystery containing intriguing choices
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 limted time she has left.
– via GoodReads.com
Why did I read this? And am I glad I did?
*Even if you skim over the review (I’ll admit I couldn’t keep it short even though I kept it spoiler-free), please check out the Going Deeper section. I actually did research 🙂
This is my first 5 star review of the year. It is also been put off for nearly two days because I had no idea how to convey what I loved about this story without spoilers. Even slight spoilers feel like it will take away from the magic that Lauren created. Let’s start with the cover. It is gorgeous! Front and back. I can’t say it better than Jenny so I’m going to send you over to her fantastic Cover Critique of this book which captures the elements of the book perfectly.
The book jumps right into this depressing future with Rhine confined in a dark place with other girls near her age all kidnapped not knowing whether they are to be sold off as brides or prostitutes. The world was devastatingly well established and the science behind this new world was very clearly explained and done so fairly early in the book. The mystery was well-balanced with the characters’ relationship growth. I also loved the perfectly picked literary references. I found the pacing to be great. It was not an edge of your seat book. What could have been a boring story about girls trapped in a fancy house, ended up being so deeply moving that I was glued to the pages front to back.
What I loved most about this book was watching Rhine’s relationship with her sister-wives and husband grow into something more than she would have expected. I was easily able to relate to her strong personality and found myself slipping into her emotions as the story moved along. She was intelligent, strong-willed, and most importantly she was caring. I understood her desire to run away from a life that many others would love to have. Yes, she could have lived her final years in luxury, but without her freedom or her brother, it was just a fancy cage.
As someone who has no personal or ethical problems with polygamy (as long as they are consenting adults entering in the relationship willing – which did not happen here), I was really happy that there wasn’t any negativity with this form of marriage in itself. It is even discussed how easily the girls work together with their husband, each getting/needing something different out of it.
I would have liked to have learned more about Gabriel and this would have lowered the score had it not been for one very important thing… Rhine acknowledges at the end of the book that she really hasn’t spent that much time with him nor does she know him that well. I love that this was mentioned and not just glanced over. We still have time to learn more about him.
I found it odd (but not unrealistic) that the new generations blamed the First Generation for the virus and some hated them for it. It wasn’t their fault. It was their parents before them. They didn’t genetically engineer themselves. But we, as humans, are quick to need someone to blame and it normally falls on those seeming to benefit from our suffering.
I still have plenty of questions, but that’s what two more books are for, right? Seeing as I laughed, cried, and clutched this book to my chest not wanting to mail it out after I was finished, I don’t think it will be a surprise that I’m ordering myself a copy and will be waiting anxiously for the rest of the series.
You want to know about true love? my father, the geneticist, said to my brother and me as we watched them dance. I’ll tell you something about true love. It’s no science to it. It’s as natural as the sky.
Love is natural. Even the human race can’t claim to be natural anymore. We are fake, dying things. How fitting that I would end up in this sham of a marriage.
“Are they going to have sex on that operating table?” Cecily says, incredulous.
“Gross, ” I say.
“I think it’s sweet,” Jenna gushes.
“It’s dangerous.” Cecily gestures wildly with the spoon. “There’s a tray of needles, like, right there.”
“He’s just been given a death sentence. What better time to make a move on the love of his life?” Jenna says.
– I found it interesting and realistic that the girls find peace and escape in the form of books and old TV/movies.
Going Deeper – NO spoilers
When I finished the book my first thoughts were “what a sad future”. Then I stopped and thought about it for a minute. While this isn’t a reality for most of us in the US (or other developed countries), it is a reality in other parts of the world. There are four countries listed on the CIA’s Factbook for 2009 with life expectancies under 40. The average male only lives to 31 and the female 32 in Swaziland.
Now that you’re depressed about the early death rates in other countries, let’s move on to something more depressing. Human trafficking is now the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. The United Nations estimates nearly 2.5 million people from 127 different countries are being trafficked around the world (although some believe these are inflated to aid advocacy of anti-trafficking – let’s hope so). You might be thinking that this is all happening in poor countries in Africa. While much of this does happen there and a lot of the people being taken are from poorer counties, they are often shipped off to more affluent places – including the US. America is primarily a transit and destination country for trafficking. It is estimated that 14,500 to 17,500 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked to the U.S. annually. The city with the highest rate of child sex trafficking is Atlanta, Georgia with 200-300 exploited for the commercial sex industry every month.
The depressingly dark future portrayed in Wither is a terrible reality for many people. It just reminds me to be grateful that I’m not one of them.