Friday, 7 October 2011

Review: Wither - Lauren DeStefano

Published: August 4th 2011, Harper Voyager
Pages: 358 pages, paperback
Series?: Yes, this is book one. Book two (Fever) is due out in 2012
Acquired: Purchased myself

Summary (from Goodreads): 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 she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

My review: Honestly, I have no idea why I waited so long to read Wither. I said in my review of Halo that I made a huge mistake choosing the book because of its cover and I would never do so again. However, with Wither I promise you that what's inside the book is just as beautiful as what's on the outside. There's no denying it, the cover is absolutely stunning, definitely the best cover art of the year (as the win for Favourite Cover at BBAW showed, yay).

I've really taken a liking to dystopian fiction this year (a little late onto the band wagon, I know) and Wither is certainly up there with The Hunger Games and Delirium as one of my favourites. I found the whole premise completely intriguing and I was drawn in from page one. I think it probably only took me two hours to read this one (most of my reading was done in the car when I arrived at the office super early to squeeze a few chapters in before work), which is pretty quite as it is fairly long for YA.

Rhine is such a compelling character and I genuinely liked her. She was fragile and confused at this horrific situation she found herself in but grows so much as the story develops and we see her become such a strong character by the end of the novel. Jenna and Cecily were brilliant as well and I especially warmed to Jenna. I thought DeStefano wrote Cecily fantastically - I think it's easy to forget she's only thirteen when the novel begins and she alternates between trying to be grown up and mature and flying into immature tantrums. She's naive at first and doesn't understand the severity of the situation the three of them are in but she can also be sweet and delicate. In a way I found her the most interesting character and she certainly goes on the biggest journey.

Linden's father, Vaughn, was an absolute villain through and through. He managed to scare me over and over again without really being given much page time, which I think shows the power of the writing in Wither. I hope we see more of him in the two remaining books in the trilogy as he's such a great character - though utterly deplorable.

Although I adored the characterisation and fascinating plot, the writing is definitely the main strength in Wither. I read that DeStefano originally wanted to write literary fiction and that completely shines through in her prose. It's beautiful and every single line reads like poetry. She writes with such an easy lyricism that I found myself folding up the corner of pretty much every page - something I do when I find a quote I want to go back and reread. Honestly, the writing here is absolutely stunning.

I cannot recommend Wither enough - if you weren't sure whether to pick it up or not then I really hope this convinces you. I've already got a stack of people ready and waiting to borrow my copy because I went on about it so much while I was reading it. Plus, I got the train home after a night out the other day and I noticed so many people staring at the cover. What do you guys think of the cover art for Fever? I love it - I just wish the release date wasn't so far away, damn it!

First line: 'I wait.'

Read if you liked…: Delirium - Lauren Oliver

Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 5/5 (Best cover of the year, for sure)
Total: 19/20 (A)


  1. brilliant Review Carly. I loved this one aswell and cant wait for the sequel :D

  2. I'm really looking forward to reading this one, despite being a little burnt-out on the dystopian YA lately..

  3. Hello. (: I just wanted to say I really liked your review--it's always exciting when someone enjoys something just as much as you do. (:

    Anyway, I linked to your review on my blog:
    (There's not much there, I'm a newbie at this. (; )

    If you want to remove the link, just let me know! I just like spreading good reviews for good books around. :)


Thank you kindly for the comment, you sweet thing.