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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Lefty's Lowdown: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
(The Chemical Garden #1)
Published: March 22, 2011 by Simon & Schuster  Books for Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Summary from Goodreads:
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?

Okay, y'all. I have had this books sitting unread on my shelves for freaking years, and that was such a mistake. I'm not sure why I was hesitant to read it, but I'm glad I finally did. Wither is different than a lot of the books you'll find on the shelves these days. I will say there are some areas where this novel fell flat, but the writing and the premise had me flying through this book in one sitting. 

Guys let's just talk about some of the awesome ideas in this novel. It takes place mostly in a dystopian Florida (my home state, what what) with flashbacks to dystopian New York (my future state, what what). What made this especially interesting, though, is that New York is this, run-down, dilapidated state, and Florida is thriving. It's the opposite of what you might expect, and that's just really cool to me. And then there's the phrase "sold as a bride." It's super creepy to think about and that's what makes it such a fascinating thing to read about. Oh, and that whole thing where basically everyone knows exactly when and how they're going to die. All of this is actually quite chilling. It's gritty and sucked me right in.

However, I feel like this story was still lacking some of the darkness and creepiness it promised. I feel like not enough happened. A lot of the story was merely Rhine thinking about how much she wanted to escape and how much she hates the mansion. There were a few parts when she took action, but she mostly just let things happen to her, rather than making them happen. Like, I wish Rhine would have dug deeper to find out some secrets of the mansion and Vaughn, her father-in-law that gives everyone the heebie-jeebies. I mean, we find out some pretty crappy things he has done, but I just wanted more. He's the villain of the book, but I just wasn't appalled by him enough.

Now, about the other characters. The thing is, I don't really have strong feelings about any of them, which makes me sad because I am a character-focused reader. Rhine is a good narrator, and I was rooting for her, but I wouldn't say I necessarily like her. If anything, I was more a fan of the secondary characters, namely Linden and Cecily. Linden was just so sweet and clueless, it was hard not to love him. And Cecily was a lot of fun. I loved watching the way she developed over the course of the novel. 

As far as the romance goes, it was nothing spectacular. It could have been, but Gabriel, the main love interest, is basically absent for half the novel. The chemistry that was building between them kind of fizzled, in my opinion. 

My absolute favorite part of book is the writing style. DeStefano has such a beautiful way with words. Some of her descriptions sent a pang to my heart because they were so good. I think her writing is the primary thing that sets this book apart and makes it feel different from the things I usually read. Even if this book had nothing else going for it, I would have still read it until the very end because I was so enthralled by the writing. 

I know there seems to be a lot of negativity in this review, but I really had a hard time putting this book down. I immediately picked up the second book when I was finished with it. I will probably be recommending this to my friends because I think it is extremely interesting. I don't think you'll regret reading this. 




  1. I think I had pretty much the same reaction to this book! So many great points in your review. I never continued the series but if you do I'll be interested to see what you think.

  2. It's good to read your review. I was planning on reading this series forever ago and somehow it fell off my radar. Thanks for putting it back on.

  3. I still haven't read this series yet but I've heard so many great reviews! But I have read Lauren DeSefano's other series- Perfect Ruin. Thanks so much for the lovely review!

    Asma @ IceyBooks

  4. I don't like a lot of romance, so this trilogy was perfect for me. I really enjoyed it to. :)


Thank you so much for taking the time to read what I have to say and give your opinion on it. It really means a lot to me. And of course, I will do my best to return the favor. However, as easily distracted and scatter-brained as I am, please don't be offended if I forget to comment on your blog.