Wither {early ARC review} * * * * *

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)

  1. Wither (Mar 22, 2011) * * * * *
  2. Untitled
  3. Untitled

Links

Author’s Website : www.laurendestefano.com

Author’s Twitter : @LaurenDeStefano

Amazon : pre-order hardcover / pre-order eBook

Add To Your GoodReads TBR List (319 ratings : 4.23 avg)

In Six Words

distressingly touching mystery containing intriguing choices

Brief Summary

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.

Favorite Quotes

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.

Tara SG
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10 Responses to Wither {early ARC review} * * * * *

  1. Missie says:

    Tara, I’m really glad you enjoyed Wither as much as you did. I read your review twice and I can agree with many of your points. I guess I just didn’t feel that Rhaine was doing the ‘smart’ thing. but really when you are in a situation like that, who is to say what is the best way to handle the situation.

    Your Going Deeper section is very startling and immeasurably sad. I have actually watched a few documentaries on human trafficking. It always haunts me.

  2. Jenny says:

    Wow Tara, what a spectacular review! I really enjoyed this one as well, I loved Rhine and I loved watching her make the best of an unimaginable situation. I thought each of the wives and Linden had such unique and different personalities and they just popped off the page for me. The only thing I would have liked (aside from a little more information on Gabriel) is a little more history of the virus and how it came to be since it was such a drastic change from the world we know. Like you said though, there are 2 more books coming, so maybe we’ll get more history in those!

    And like Missie, I was shocked by the going deeper section, thanks so much for including it.

    And thanks for including a link to my cover critique, that was so nice of you!

  3. Jo says:

    Great review!! I’ve been curious about this book, and have it ready to order for my library … now I can’t wait for it to get here! 🙂

  4. Natalie says:

    EEEEEEEEEEK! You have no idea how excited this makes me. I haven’t read a 5 star book in awhile, and since our reading tastes tend to be fairly similar, I’m hoping I’ll love this one too. I have a copy in my review pile, and I can’t wait to get around to reading it!

    By the way, I think the research you did in the going deeper section is fascinating. Thanks for including it!

  5. Mrs DeRaps says:

    I can’t even wait to read this book! Thanks for sharing your excitement and awesome review. Love the connections you’ve made to the real world. To me, that’s what’s great about this genre…That the lessons are applicable to the real world.

  6. I didn’t read your review past the five star review. I don’t want to spoil anything. I have anticipating this one for awhile. I don’t expect anything dystopian to be happy. I expect grim and depressing so I’m guessing I won’t be disappointed. I’ll just have to be in the right frame of mind to read it. Thanks for reviewing it.

    Heather

  7. Rachel says:

    Wow.. this one sounds REALLY good. Added it to my Book Depository wishlist 🙂

  8. Alita says:

    I’ve seen the cover for this book floating around the blogosphere, but I don’t think I’ve ever looked into what it’s about. Now I really want to read it!

    It’s crazy how prevalent human trafficking is. Last year I came across an organization that rescues people who have been trafficked and sold to slavery, called International Justice Mission. I highly recommend checking them out.

  9. Not only does this book sounds intriguing, your review is also very detailed and made me even more interested in reading it! Polygamy really isn’t a theme we see often, I’m curious to see how the author approached it.

  10. Julia Star says:

    Great review Tara! When reading the GR description of the story, I immediately thought of Handmaids Tale, by Margret Atwood. I love the ideas this book uses, it sounds fresh but classic at the same time. I will try to remember to pick this up when it comes out.

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