2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite dystopian novel!
I didn't want it to end! It was *that* good!!
Wither has become my favourite dystopian novel. This book is a good lesson to show what can happen when scientists and geneticists try to play God: Their attempts to create a superior, disease-free race backfires when the offspring of the genetically modified individuals die prematurely, at the age of 20 years for...
Published 21 months ago by Darlene
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wanting More!
I really wanted to love this book. There was a part of me that in every page turn was hoping to find out more information. I wanted to know more about what went on in the basement and what happened in all the characters past, more than just the simple background history we are given about Rhine, the main character.
It was a very slow read, in 50 pages you are still...
Published 23 months ago by Brooke289
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite dystopian novel!,
This review is from: Wither (Paperback)I didn't want it to end! It was *that* good!!
Wither has become my favourite dystopian novel. This book is a good lesson to show what can happen when scientists and geneticists try to play God: Their attempts to create a superior, disease-free race backfires when the offspring of the genetically modified individuals die prematurely, at the age of 20 years for females and 25 years for males. The first generation is determined to find a cure for the virus before the entire population is wiped out. To do so, they need more test subjects. Polygamy becomes the norm, and young girls of child-bearing age are snatched up by "Gatherers," who round the girls up to be brides for the sons of the first generation. The girls are expected to have as many children as they can to ensure the future survival of the human race. Even if a cure is not found before the brides die, their children will be studied and tested in an effort to find the antidote.
Rhine, a 16 year-old teenager, is one of the unlucky brides who have been abducted by the Gatherers. She, along with two other girls (13 year-old Cecily and 18 year-old Jenna), are brought to the estate of wealthy Housemaster Vaughn. The young ladies are to be the sister brides of Vaughn's son, 21 year old Linden, whose first wife, 20 year-old Rose, is on her deathbed. Rhine realizes that the success of her intended escape depends on her ability to gain the trust of her husband and his domineering father. She must pretend to be enamoured by her husband and complacent with her lifestyle in the lap of luxury if she has any chance at all to flee. She will stop at nothing to find her way back to her twin brother, Rowan, the only family that she has left since their parents died. Rhine finds an unlikely ally in Gabriel, who is a servant in the mansion.
I loved, loved, loved Wither! I found this to be a very dark and emotional read, because DeStefano touches on so many moral and ethical issues in the world that she has created: Genetic manipulation, polygamy, murder, kidnapping, teenage pregnancy, abuse. These are very mature topics for a YA novel.
Vaughn was the perfect villain. Although DeStefano tries to create sympathy towards Linden by painting him as a victim of his father's machinations, I could not think of him as anything but a randy young man who revelled in bedding multiple wives! I was particularly bothered by his sexual relationship with 13 year-old Cecily. That's just...wrong. I found him nearly as loathsome as his father. Rhine is an intelligent, thoughtful, and gutsy young lady who knew that she had to play the game to get what she wanted. At times, I do not know how she managed to keep up the act of devoted wife. Her strength and determination are admirable qualities.
And who could not help but love Gabriel? His innocence was heart-breaking, as well as his unswerving servitude to his masters. His moments with Rhine were so sweet, but I wanted more!
The gorgeous cover depicting Rhine as the bird in the gilded cage was perfect.
My fingers could not flip the pages of this book fast enough, and I reached the end to pause and reflect only for a moment before I dove into the next in the series, Fever.
MY RATING: 5 stars!! It was superb! I loved it, and I will likely re-read it again in the future! You should definitely read it!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wanting More!,
This review is from: Wither (Paperback)I really wanted to love this book. There was a part of me that in every page turn was hoping to find out more information. I wanted to know more about what went on in the basement and what happened in all the characters past, more than just the simple background history we are given about Rhine, the main character.
It was a very slow read, in 50 pages you are still dealing with the same issue and nothing unexpected happens. I want to read the next book just to find out what happens to the characters, but truth be told I probably won't just because I found it so slow paced.
I wish it was just as captivating as the cover!
3.0 out of 5 stars This world is so bleak and depressing!,
This review is from: Wither (Hardcover)In Rhine's world society has been plagued with a deadly virus that kills women at the age of twenty years old, and women at the age of twenty-five. The population has decreased so much that teenage girls are taken at will by Gatherers to be sold to men who will take in a polygamous marriage. Rhine is one of these wives, a sister wife to Cecily and Jenna. Blond, and beautiful her eyes marked with one brown eye and one blue eye, she struggles to keep herself alive and sane while she is held prisoner at the mansion. She befriends a servant boy named Gabriel and together they plot to escape.
This world is so bleak and depressing! Imagine no cure for a virus that automatically kills you! To have strength as Rhine does makes up for most of this slow paced novel. The relationships between the sister wives were just beautiful and it felt real. All of them being imprisoned in such a place where the rest of the world is bleak and hungry made their situation less frightening.
I completely adore Rhine's strength of character. Her strong will to get out and find her brother is what moved the story along. The writing is beautiful and Lauren DeStefano is a great writer. I look forward to reading Fever.
"Love is natural. Even the human race can't claim to be natural anymore."'Rhine (119)
4.0 out of 5 stars Wither is a beautiful, haunting tale of a world gone wrong,
This review is from: Wither (Hardcover)What attracted me first to the book is the cover of course; I mean come on you can't help it right? This has to be one of my favorite all time covers. Wither is set some time in the future and thanks to modern science all people of the new generations die at a young age. Girls are guaranteed to die at twenty and boys at twenty-five. Rhine-a sixteen-year-old girl - gets kidnapped from her twin brother and the life she's always known to become a bride along with two other girls. She's looking for escape and she knows that this rich and privileged life is nothing more than a cage.
First off I like to clear out that Wither is not a dystopia novel. A dystopia novel is where a future is thought to be a utopia and peaceful thanks to the lies of the government, people live unaware of the underlying chaos. The Giver and Delirium are good examples of this. Wither is more like a post-apocalyptic. You could feel the horror of the world, how everyone lost hope. How people live everyday with sadness, fear, and hopelessness. There was no sugar coating it and you felt it everyday through Rhine even among the beautiful gardens, the pretty dresses and lavish mansion. The world was seriously in chaos and you could feel that right in first chapter until the end and honestly it was depressing at times, but I also liked how it really showed you the horror of it, it really was vivid and you could imagine it, almost seeing a world like that really unfolding.
Most of the characters were very well done. I really loved how Rhine never gave up with her desire of escape that she never lost hope in the midst of all this chaos for a chance of freedom. Her relationship with Cecily, Jenna and Rose were also well-developed you could feel their bond and how close they've become through the course of the book, and that relationship is one of my favorite aspects of the book.
Linden was completely naive to the world and you could almost feel sorry for him but honestly I can't believe someone can be that blind or ignorant, he doesn't see how he's hurting these girls unconsciously. Gabriel was also pretty boring I felt no chemistry between him and Rhine and although I prefer him to Linden I still think the romance and interaction between him and Rhine feels forced.
The book is also very well written, the world harsh and cruel yet believable. We saw through a window of each of the bride's lives and what led them here. Each of the sister wives were different yet they really had a strong bond as I mentioned - that and the setting are my favorite part of the book. If you are reading Wither for the romance than I don't think you should really bother, but you should definitely stick around for the setting and bonds between Rhine and the other girls. Well to end it off Wither is a beautiful, haunting tale of a world gone wrong and a girl who tries her best to hold on when everyone gave up a long time ago.
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking Dystopian Novel,
This review is from: Wither (Hardcover)It is difficult and a little intimidating to review a book that you've heard a lot about, especially a lot of good things. I did enjoy reading this book, but not as much as many of the other reviewers. The book was largely in Rhine's head, with her thinking of escape plans, figuring out the world she now found herself in, and coming to terms with her feelings. Because she has to be so secretive, she does not talk to many people. It was interesting to watch Rhine grow and gain understanding and even wavering, while remaining single minded in her bid for freedom. Lauren DeStefano also wrote some beautiful, vivid descriptions of the world, some horrifying in their scope.
For me, however, Wither got a little repetitive. There were some thoughts and ideas that were stated over and over, for example, that Rhine's different eyes had saved her life. There were similar things with her thoughts of her brother and her past life, as well as Rhine's feelings about her current life. It made it feel as if the story were not progressing very fast at times.
I also wanted to know more about the world and how it had decayed to the state it was in- a lot was supplied was implied - and found I had a lot of questions . How did the gatherers (those who stole the girls) become OK, was there no higher authority? Why, if girls were so important for reproduction, hadn't they become a valuable commodity who were paid for handsomely and honoured rather than being cheap and disposable? Wouldn't teenagers become valuable as caregivers for babies who had been orphaned? How did the economy run at all?
What was interesting in Wither is the number of questions it brings up and I can envision some great book club meetings or essays being written on these topics. The big one is freedom vs slavery, especially a hard free live vs luxurious slavery: Rhine's life before she was kidnapped was brutally hard and dangerous, with the threat of kidnapping, people breaking into her house, unemployment, poor quality food, desperate orphans stealing food, but she was free. After she was kidnapped, Rhine had a life of luxury with servants, beautiful clothes, excellent food, and going to parties, but she was not free. A vivid dichotomy was set up here. Another question is should humans interfere anymore genetically or let the human race die out? This gets into more questions about bio-engineering, in general. There is also polygamous marriage and duty and even arranged marriage. I'm sure there are other themes as well, but these are the obvious ones.
Overall, I did like Wither, but found it frustrating at the same time. It will be interesting to see where Lauren DeStefano takes this story in the next book.
3.0 out of 5 stars Walked away from this adventure feeling thoroughly entertained,
This review is from: Wither (Hardcover)Well, as I peruse the pages of Goodreads and some of my favorite Book Review Blogs, I find there are plenty of mixed views toward Wither; many glowing and gushing, many harsh and some even bordering on a wee but nasty. While admittedly this is my first Dystopian YA reading experience, I was rather pleased and walked away from this adventure feeling thoroughly entertained.
I believe that many readers will find DeStefano's debut a well written, imaginative and thought provoking experience complete with entirely believable futuristic scenarios and an endearing cast of characters. Rhine is a courageous character whose morals and beliefs tell her that she must fight for her freedom. Yet, her intelligence tells her that she must endure, she must wait to take action when the time is right. And, amongst all the bravery and wisdom, Rhine must also deal with her heart. She struggles with the ever-present inner battles of caring versus hatred for Linden and her quilt over what the repercussions of her departure might mean to Cecily, the youngest of Rhine's 2 sister wives.
While there are some rather sensitive topics touched upon within the pages of Wither, such as kidnapping, murder, and forcible confinement, these issues are conveyed in a manner that readers will find rather gentle and quite suited to the premise of the story.
DeStefano shares with us a rather unique view of our future. One that, if man doesn't stop "messing with nature", I believe readers will find quite conceivable.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brutal Future World Where Life is a Ticking Time Bomb,
This review is from: Wither (Hardcover)Reason for Reading: I love dystopian novels and this sounded fantastic.
And fantastic it was! Absolutely fantastic! The first book in a trilogy hasn't excited me this much since The Hunger Games (not that this is anything like it). A brutal future world where an entire generation has been artificially conceived but they have cured disease, no more cancer, no more AIDS, no more heart disease. What this first generation didn't know, until 20 years later, though was that their own naturally conceived children were ticking time bombs. Females now only live until 20 years of age, and males to the ripe old age of 25 then they succumb to "the virus". For seventy years now the first generation, who also have conquered the rapidness of aging, have been trying to find a cure for their children but they have separated into two factions by this time: those who want to find a cure, and the pro-naturalists who say it's time to let nature take its course and want to stop the breeding of infants for the purpose of experimenting on them.
It is in this world that Rhine is kidnapped along with a van full of other girls by a wealthy father looking for wives for his son. The son chooses three and they are forced to marry the 20yo and become his wives. In their captivity the sister wives, form a unique bond with each other. Each comes from a different background and situation, dealing with their kidnapping/captivity and forced marriage in different ways. Rhine is the only one with a will to escape.
Wonderful. wonderful. wonderful. Right from the first chapter I was addicted to this story. It swept me up into a horrible possible future that is brutal and repugnant. The young either live in poverty as third generation orphans or as rich socialites in decadence with no moral values as life is literally too short to waste on virtues. The ethical questions give one much thought, especially about finding a cure vs. experiments on babies or the question of how terrible is it to kidnap street women and starving orphans so they live the rest of a short life in opulence versus leaving their freedom behind? My enjoyment of a dystopian novel always hinges on whether I believe the major situation is possible. While I don't believe that our current society is headed towards perfecting a genetically altered artificially conceived disease free generation. I do, however, believe the current dwindling replacement population crises will have many profound repercussions on the future generations even if something is done immediately, which is hardly likely. Women are already kidnapped for use in prostitution in today's world, it is hardly unrealistic to think they would be kidnapped for use as wives and breeders by the wealthy in this futuristic world with no religion or moral values.
DeStephano has created a fascinating concept with many layers, and even added a tiny touch of romance. This is a riveting book and I can hardly wait for the next book in the trilogy to be published.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Debut,
This review is from: Wither (Hardcover)Post third world war, planet earth is merely a shade of its original beauty. Only North America survived man's destruction, leaving small inhabitable islands where flourish continents used to be. But it's not the only damage the human race caused. In hopes of creating perfect human beings, an entire generation of children were created in labs, the First Generation. Little did they know though, this generation's children were all dying before adulthood. Boys and girls found their graves at respectively 25 and 20 years old. In hopes of giving humanity a second breath, many researchers are working on a cure, while young girls are kidnapped and sold to wealthy families to become wives in polygamous marriage and bear child. Rhine ends up in one of those marriage, and will do everything she can to break free and get back to her twin brother Rowan.
Dystopian isn't my usual kind of read but I really enjoyed the world Lauren created. I love how she paid attention to details by adding a touch of new technology yet respecting the step back humanity suffered after the war. Her world was introduce smoothly to the readers while it could've been heavy, so kudos to the debut author. Her descriptions were also very vivid, which made it extremely easy to imagine the world Rhine lives in.
The characters were very believable even though I didn't always support their decisions. Rhine is a brilliant girl who was content with her modest life in Manhattan with her twin brother and finds herself parachuted in an artificial world of luxury. She will take many risks in hopes of freedom. I though she was very interesting, along with her sister wives Jenna (18 years old, which I adored) and Cecily (13, which I didn't understand) but my favorite characters was Linden, their husband. He is such a fragile man and so oblivious to what's around him. He is as much a victim in this story as his unwilling wives. I felt pity for this broken-hearted young man who is barely more than his father's puppet. I'd also like to mention Gabriel, a domestic who's such a sweet heart. He made me smile a couple of times.
Call me prude, but one thing bothered me in this book. Sex is never described but only revered to, and the 13 years old Cecily gets pregnant from 20 years old Linden. While I understand the world they live in, it still left me uncomfortable, so I though I'd mention it. Again, sex is never described, so it's not of poor taste, it's a personal preference. Also, Lauren makes a big deal about Rhine having eyes of two different colors, but it was somewhat irrelevant to the story, will it gain a meaning in the following book?
The conclusion was good but not very satisfying for me. I won't explain why as I don't want to spoil everything. I'll only say that a chapter was closed and I was hoping to see the consequences, but I'll have to wait for the next book to quench my thirst.
Wither is overall a good debut for author Lauren DeStefano and I can't wait to see what she'll come up with next!
4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling post-apocalyptic future,
This review is from: Wither (Hardcover)Genetic engineering was supposed to be the key that solved all life's problems. There would be no disease, no hunger, and no suffering. Just perfectly healthy, beautiful people living their ideal lives in an idyllic world. For a while it seemed to be working. The first generation of geneticly engineered humans were, in fact, supremely healthy and perfect. Then their children started to die. Girls die when they turn twenty, boys at age twenty-five. No one escapes, and no one has been able to find a cure.
In Wither, Destefano has handed us a world of possibility so horrifying you'll want to shut the book and push it away. And yet it's so plausible that I couldn't stop turning pages.
The main character, 16-year-old Rhine, is snatched off the street and loaded into a van with a dozen other girls to be sold as brides. In some ways, it's the best life Rhine can hope for- wealth, privilege, a husband who loves her- yet all she wants is to escape and return to her twin brother for the time she has left. Still, Rhine finds herself slowly sucked in to the life she would never have chosen for herself. She learns to love her sister wives. She feels something, maybe not love, but something for her husband. And most of all, she finds herself unwillingly attracted to Gabriel, a servant in the governor's house. As Rhine desperately attempts to convince her husband she is trustworthy (so she can betray him, of course), she begins to be confused about what she really wants.
You spend a lot of time in Rhine's head in this book. The story depends a great deal on her as a character and by the end of the story you'll feel you know her really well. This is a good thing about 90% of the time. The characterization is a double-edged sword, though, because at times this novel felt so deeply introspective that I was dying for something to just happen already.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed this story. I loved the world DeStefano created (ok, "love" is the wrong word. It's a terrifying future and it gave me nightmares. How about "was impressed by" or "felt I was living in"), and I'm dying to know what happens next.
Final word: An excellent read for dystopian fans who don't necessarily need a fast-paced plot. (4/5)
4.0 out of 5 stars Wither is a Winner!,
This review is from: Wither (Hardcover)I am a fortunate recipient of an advance reader's copy of debut novelist Lauren DeStefano's The Chemical Garden Trilogy: Wither, published by Simon & Schuster. Wither is the first piece of this dystopian puzzle and although it is recommended for ages 14+, I was charmed by it and could not put it down. Wither is a refreshing, unique and dazzling story (despite comparisons made to The Handmaid's Tale), filled with compelling characters that leap off the page. While it does raise a few questions, I chose not to analyze the life out of it and just enjoyed it for the pleasurable fantasy read that it is. I can already completely envision the movie version and don't think I'm remiss in saying that fans of the Twilight series will undoubtedly enjoy this too.
In the not-too-distant future, Earth has almost been entirely obliterated by a viral plague created through genetic engineering that has wiped out every continent except for North America. In this nightmare, males only live to be 25-years-old and females only live to age 20, raising the questions, "What if you knew when you were going to die?" How would you choose to live your life?
Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is a beautiful, intelligent orphan with hemochromatic eyes (one brown, one blue) who has been kidnapped by "Gatherers" and sold at auction as a bride to a rich governor. She is torn away from the only life she knows in an almost unrecognizable Manhattan where her twin brother Rowan works in a factory to support them while it's her job to keep their ramshackle home safe from looters.
Rhine isn't a special victim, but rather the norm, as there are few things left for young women in this new world to do but be sold into slavery to propagate the species. Only the beautiful are chosen as brides while the others become prostitutes or are murdered.
Rhine finds herself living in a picturesque but sinister Florida mansion - decorated with holograms and steeped in illusion - and wedded to a naïve, young Governor Linden Ashby. Linden, a would-be architect, is mourning the impending death of his true love and first wife, Rose, while being completely controlled by his creepy, geneticist father, Housemaster Vaughn (a first generation who didn't succumb to the plague), who lets everyone think he's working on an antidote for the fatal disease.
Rhine has two sister wives: (polygamy is also not unusual in this new world) 13-year-old Cecilia, a bratty redhead who was born in an orphanage and never knew her parents - so has little problem adjusting to life as a rich man's child bride - and 18-year-old Jenna, a sad, introverted brunette whose sisters are murdered in the same van she was taken away in when she was captured.
Rhine befriends Rose, who soon dies, and whose body is mysteriously transported to the basement, never to be given a proper funeral. Cecilia takes her place as Linden's new lover, and before long becomes pregnant with his child. Jenna's relationship with her husband is only sexual as she refuses to give him her heart, while Rhine rejects the consummation of her marriage and instead befriends a kind and empathetic servant named Gabriel whom she comes to trust. (It was a little hard to believe that she would have been able to continuously deny her husband who clearly had his way with the others.)
On the outside, Rhine's world is one of glamour, parties, growing friendships with her sister wives and an orange grove utopia, while the reality is one of ugly secrets, danger and the dance of the Grim Reaper.
This first person narrative is thoughtfully conveyed in Rhine's voice, with moral dilemmas always close to the surface, and her relationships with the other characters are as well developed and realistic as they can be in a science fiction setting. We know Rhine is biding her time by pretending to want to be Linden's first wife until she can figure out a way to escape. We also know that there's something inherently evil going on in the basement of the mansion and that although Vaughn is supposedly carrying out DNA experiments to find a cure, nothing is what it appears to be. We also know by the end of this page turner that we're not going to get to know what happens to Rhine and Gabriel until the next edition of the trilogy. By then, you will be completely sucked into the story and will have to read the next book! And believe me, I will.
Bravo Lauren DeStefano! You're going to have a very successful writing career.
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Wither by Lauren DeStefano (Hardcover - March 22 2011)
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