Wither Book Review

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

-Front Flap

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Right, so I just finished re-watching an episode of Doctor Who involving what is basically the scariest thing ever (Time of the Angles episode) and I’m duly freaked out. So I figured a book review was the way to solve all my problems. A book review at 12:03 in the morning.

Anyways, this story, first of all, had a lovely layout. See how the cover has all those circles and lines? That was carried through on the copyright pages and the chapter titles and everything. I thought it was a nice touch. You can look at what I’m talking about on here.

The story itself was good too. For the most part. It’s about this girl, Rhine, who was stolen away from her twin brother and sold to a rich man named Linden.  She, and three other stolen girls, are then married to Linden. Basically, it’s Handmaid’s Tale, but updated. So she’s supposed to have, to say it lightly, intimate relations with Linden so as to procreate. Despite Rhine’s young age (she’s 16, I believe; Linden’s barely older), early reproduction is very necessary in her world because all the girls die at 20 years and all the boys at 25.

Imagine that. She has four years left to live. Imagine her twin brother, who would have five years to live without the only person in the world that he cared for. That’s sad. Makes you think. Made me think. What would you do with such limited time? I’d only have two years and a few months left. Sucks.

But I digress. Rhine’s story following her capture and purchase is her continued existence in the house of Linden and his creepy father with her two sister wives. As they are living in a house with nothing to do, I would call this the story of a patient teen. I found it interesting, but if you’re looking for action, it is not here. For the great majority of this book, I was really entertained. A lot of that came from the fact that there were lots of little things going on that you could think about. For instance, Linden’s dad is looking for a cure before his son dies. (The fact that Linden’s got a dad is explained; don’t worry, it makes almost-perfect sense.) So you’ve got the fact that he’s up to something shadey, but shadey for a good cause to ponder on. Then there’s Rhine’s escape plans. And the fact that she’s going to die soon. And that her sister-wives and she are all competiting for Liden’s attention. Lots of things to think about when you read to keep you going.

The ending was clearly a set up for more, but I can’t exactly recall if it was a good or bad one. Cliffhanger, or not. It’s been a while since I read this…

Rhine is a good narrator and I liked how intelligent she was. She had a level head, thought things through, and didn’t fall into the cliché of some of these “normal” girls, which is where they think they’re ugly, they read books like Wuthering Heights, and are slow on the uptake and obsessive. Basically, I liked that she wasn’t Bella.  But even more than that, because this is dystopian, it is important to note that she wasn’t Katniss either.  She was somebody new.

Also, I loved her name. Rhine is a river in Germany, and in Norse Mythology there are these creatures called Rhinemaidens. The fact that there is both German and Norse stuff goin’ on here, well I can’t not love it. Bonus points for being easy to pronounce.

You know, I just noticed something. It’s a rare thing that you read a modern book from third person. Perhaps I’ve just been reading the wrong books. Hmm.

Okay, moving on. The writing was good. I mentioned that, already right? Not whiney. Very focused and clear. Story was Handmaid’s Tale, I said that. And when I say that, I mean, it really is like that book. The concepts are so similar. But it was definitely more interesting. I could barely make it through Handmaid’s. The time-bomb attached to this just added a new level of…intensity? I mean, four years is not very long and Rhine clearly has a lot to do, what with trying to escape and all.

Oh, here’s something: so when you read some of these new dystopias, they tend to follow a path. The lead is a female. She’s blissfully oblivious to the flaws of her not-so-perfect society until she meets a strange boy who shows her otherwise. But in this world, what with the disease that kills the boys and girls and the fact that life is still going on more or less the same– well, I’d call it a dystopia, but I can’t really see a way to “rebel” Rhine out of this world. I mean, overthrowing the government would do nothing.  The fact that I’m totally lost on what might happen next is a very good thing. It means I’ll have to read to find out what.

There was also some romance in this book, but it took a happy second place to the fact that Rhine had more pressing matters to attend to. It was cute, I thought, and not overly sappy. Also, it was interesting to read all the conflicting emotions Rhine had for the men in her life– the brother she left behind, her newfound love, Linden, Linden’s father. The contrast was nice. It made opposite feelings (like love and hate for instance) obvious without the author having to state it outright.

The other sister-wives and Liden were somewhat developed. They all had different personalities, but as Rhine was narrating and she was totally interested in them, they didn’t get tons of growth or details. Her love interest, Gabriel, also is barely fleshed out, but considering that there are more books to come, I assume this will change.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Definitely one of the more interesting ones I’ve read, and as I said, I’m looking forward to continuing this series. Guys, it’s coming to you recommended. I think you should invest some time in this. Really.

Ri’s Rating:


0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.

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  1. Wither by Lauren DeStefano « Book Monkey
  2. Rowena Reviews » Blog Archive » Wither by Lauren Destefano

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