Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Monday March 19, 2012 at 12:00 am |

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copyright: 2011
Published: March 22, 2011
Pages: 358
Form: Hardback
Series: The Chemical Gardens (1)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Buy The Book: B&N  | Book Depository

Thanks to modern science, every newborn 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 hew 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 is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

My Thoughts:

If I could sum this book up in one word it would be INCOMPLETE.  There are so many plot holes in this book it was hard to keep up with them all and the world building was completely lacking.  A good portion of the book made no sense to me, and I still question the actions and in-actions of Rhine.  Because of genetic experimentation the older generation are free from disease.  But as a result there is a defect that causes their offspring to die early; girls at the EXACT age of twenty, and boys at the EXACT age of twenty-five.  Because of the short life span, girls are being stolen from the streets and their homes and forced to marry and have children.  Rhine, at the age of sixteen, is taken from Manhattan where she lived with her twin brother, and taken to a wealthy household in Florida to become Linden Ashby’s wife.

I have so many issues with this book that I’m going to have to take it point by point.  First I’d like to begin with the whole idea of stealing girls, forcing them into polygamous marriages, and making them have children.  WHY?  If I’m to believe the author, there are an abundance of orphans in this world because of the defect.  Many of which I’m sure would be more than willing to live in luxury and be a wife and mother as long as they were provided for and didn’t have to scrimp and scrape the rest of their lives.  So why it’s necessary to steal and kidnap these girls escapes me.  I’m also confused as to why they shoot and kill the remaining girls who are not chosen by the husband.  If the woman’s womb is so imperative to the human race surviving, and the sole purpose in stealing these women is to make them have kids so the race WON’T die out, then why are they KILLING girls?  And if the girls die at twenty and boys at twenty-five, wouldn’t there be more men than women?  So why are they killing off the half of the human race they need most?  It just makes no sense.  Why not put them back for someone else to choose, or perhaps for them to meet and marry on their own.  The Gatherer’s actions totally don’t line up with their goals.

Now, I don’t know much about Science but I’m pretty sure some things that happen in this novel aren’t possible and the author gives no further explanations for her general statements.  According to Rhine, only North America still exists in the world.  The other parts of the world were obliterated in some arbitrary nuclear war and NA is the only place still standing…HOW?  Also, the polar ice caps have been “vaporized” and we don’t know why or how.  But if the ice caps are gone, wouldn’t Florida be completely submerged in water?  And the fact that there is significant snow and even a blizzard in the state of Florida blows my mind.  If any of this had been explained, then maybe I would have been okay swallowing it, but there are no explanations or details as to what happened, and why the weather is so ass backwards in Florida.

The R in Rhine should be replaced with a W.  This girl moped and moaned and repeated the same sad diatribe day in and day out that I couldn’t take it.  She’s always reminiscing about life with her twin brother but her life sucked!  Now I can truly understand her missing and loving her brother and wanting to be with him because that was her only family left.  But she didn’t have an easy life with her brother.  They had to bury all their valuables.  They slept in the basement among the rats, took turns sleeping while the other stood guard with a shotgun, and was always worried about their next meal, kids stealing, and Gatherers breaking in to steal Rhine.  They lived in perpetual fear.  Now she wants for nothing really.  She eats very well, has a personal servant, gets to get dressed up and go to balls, and has a husband who will pretty much give her everything.  For some reason she never has to consummate with the husband, so besides the brother angle, I have no idea why she is so hell bent on leaving.  Also, she never took advantage of the opportunities presented to her.  At one point she wanted to see Gabriel who had been sent to the basement.  But when a distraction was provided for her, she didn’t go.  Also, despite the many times that she could have tried to escape, she decides the best time to go is during a hurricane…REALLY?  I’m going to chalk that up to her age…I’m sure I did some insanely stupid things when I was sixteen.

Linden, the husband, was so willfully oblivious that it was disgusting.  If ever someone walked around with their head in the clouds it was  him.  Even when an opportunity presents itself, and he actually wonders about Rhine’s life before him, he NEVER bothers to ask his wives anything about themselves.  I can’t tell you how infuriating his ignorance was.  He is not aware that his father kidnapped these girls and had others killed, and he doesn’t want to know.  And Rhine has plenty of opportunities to tell him but never discloses the information to him.  *Bangs head on keyboard*.  Eventually Rhine seems to grow feelings for him or maybe she just feels sorry for him, but I don’t get it.  There is nothing appealing about him, and the fact that he’s not curious at all would completely turn me off, not make me feel sorry for him.

The so-called villain is no villain, he is merely implied.  We hear so much about how evil Linden’s father is but there are no clear and concise instances of this in the book.  Rhine never physically sees him doing anything evil and neither does the reader.  Everything is implied which kind of makes it weak.  We find out that the father takes the bodies of the dead wives (after they’ve died of the virus) and experiments on them to find a cure.  Rhine hates him for this, but I honestly don’t see what the big deal is.  So he uses bodies to experiment, he is searching for a cure and I fail to see what’s so bad about that.  Now if he obtains bodies from other ways that are only IMPLIED in the book, then yeah, not cool.  But doing this with an already deceased body is expected and what scientists do.

Despite all of this, even though there were several times I didn’t want to finish, I kept reading for some reason…morbid curiosity maybe.  I will admit that DeStefano has a very nice way with words.  her prose is beautiful, almost lyrical at times.  Gabriel was a bright spot for me, though he’s rarely seen once you get midway into the book.  I also found the older sister wife, Jenna,to be quite interesting.  She was resigned to her fate even though she didn’t like it one bit.  But she was observant and she did what she could to aid Rhine in her escape and in seeing Gabriel when he was banished to the basement.  I really would have liked to know more about her and the inner workings of her brain.

Overall the book really just made no sense to me.  The back story, the characters, the decisions they made…it all just made no sense.  I feel bad when I have to give a bad review but I couldn’t even suspend my disbelief and that’s usually so easy for me.  I doubt very much that I will continue with this series.  There are just too many questions and plot holes for me to be interested in continuing.  I’m sure there are plenty of others out there who enjoyed the book so don’t let my review spoil it for you.  Check some other reviews out before you make up your mind on whether to bother with this one or not.

Books in this Series:

iconiconicon
icon

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Filed in: Dystopian, Fiction, Reviews, Young Adult Tags: , , , , ,




Jade

Written by Jade

Jade is a book blogger from NC. In her spare time she loves to read and build and maintain websites. She has been reading since she was four and building websites since she was 16. SortofBeautiful.com was born on March 8, 2011 and is a fantastic merging of her two favorite hobbies. Enjoy your stay!

Find Me Here

15 Responses to “Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano”

  1. I’ve been putting this one off for awhile, and I may keep doing so. If it has a lot of plot holes, I’m going to be very frusterated. I’ve been having a hard time with YA lately, and I don’t think this one will renew my love for the genre. Thanks for the honest review.

    • Jade says:

      IF YA has been giving you trouble this is NOT the book that will reknew your interest Mrs. Q. I’d suggest Divergent or hell anything besides this.

  2. LMAO! Oh, Jade. This is one of the best reviews I’ve read for this book. You cracked me up!

    I couldn’t stop nodding my head vigorously in agreement with you on every single point!! Yes, “the R in Rhine should be replaced with a W.” Because that girl has a no clue. You’re right. What was she so eager to get back to when she is waited on hand and foot? Why runaway during a hurricane? How could Linden be such an idiot? And what is so evil about trying to find a cure?

    Morbid curiosity got the better of me too, so I finished this book, but I haven’t felt motivated to continue the series.

    • Jade says:

      Missie I thought I was being punked while reading. I kept thinking, is she for real? This was just lazy writing and I honestly can’t believe nobody caught these things or that it got published as is.

  3. Aww, Jade, I’m really sorry you didn’t like this one! 🙁 Although I have to admit that your review made me smile — the ‘R’ replaced with ‘W’ thing? So genius LOL! 😉 I find that there are a lot of YA books with plot holes in them, but awesome characters can usually save a book for me, so it’s too bad that you couldn’t enjoy any of the ones in this book!

    And about the “dumb things at sixteen thing” <– Truer words have never been spoken LOL!! I'm not sixteen yet and I'm not as wild as some other teens in my grade, but I still can't count the dumb things I've done on one hand! x)

    Amazing honest review as always, Jade! <3

    • Jade Jade says:

      I think I had to reconcile a lot of her dumb actions to her age because otherwise I’d be even more disturbed by Rhine than I already am. I’m hoping this series gets better for those who continue with it, but I can’t fathom putting myself through this again.

  4. *cough* Taking this one off my list *cough*. Jade…I’m not going to lie, I read your review out loud to my mom it was so hilarious. This is the best most honest review ever. I’ve read tons of reviews on this book but yours is certainly the best. I’ve never heard mention of these problems before. I know I wouldn’t be able to take it. This series seems to have a pretty healthy following too. Sometimes, just sometimes, I feel really nervous about taking the advice on some of these YA reads, because I feel like my expectations can be a little high and I’m looking around, thinking I’m the crazy person seeing these glaring and annoying issues. I really hope you have started a new book that is going to blow your mind. You deserve it.

    • Jade Jade says:

      LOL, well I’m glad I could be entertaining. I didn’t intend to be funny but I guess that’s just how it all came out. It’s funny though because after I wrote my review about a week or so ago, I went to read others reviews just to see if I was alone in my sentiments. And while there were plenty of rave reviews, there were also many that had the same issues and made similar points that I did. So afterwards I didn’t feel as bad.

      But I have to tell the truth. This book just didn’t come together very well.

      Anyways, thanks hon. I’m glad my review could be helpful. And no, you’re NOT the only one who sees the “glaring issues” in some of the YA books out here. It’s like everybody is more worried abot making a buck than writing a complete and believable story.

  5. Great review! I’ve been back and forth on whether to read this book. I decided when it came out that I wouldn’t but then I’ve thought about going back to it. Now I know for certain that I won’t read it. Thanks for your honesty, Jade!

    • Jade Jade says:

      I was upset because I was really excited to read it. It was a big disappointment. I’m glad I can help others make a decision about it either way.

  6. Molli says:

    The R in Rhine should be replaced with a W.

    LOLLLLL, Jade.

    But in all seriousness, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one. Chances are when I read it, I may feel the same way about some aspects, because in utopians, I like my world-building well done and to make sense. I don’t like info dumps and that sounds like Wither is a bit of one. :/ Great review though, honest and thorough!

    • Jade Jade says:

      Yes, in dystopians world building is imperative. This seems like the author slapped together a premise and didn’t think it through. I hope you enjoy it more than I did.

  7. I actually haven’t finished this one yet (I had to take a break for some have-tos and admit I never quite felt the need to get back to it…), but I can see so many of your points already. I am curious to see how it ends, but if you say nothing is explained, that definitely disappoints me. I was hoping for that, because some things are definitely a bit odd.

    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it as much as so many others. It’s never fun writing negative reviews, but I think you did it really well. I really see what bugs you and can say some things had already bugged me as well.

    • Jade Jade says:

      There were many times I had to force myself to continue so I’m not surprised you haven’t picked this one back up yet. I do hope you’re able to find more enjoyment in it than I did if you decide to continue reading it.

  8. […] Good Review:  Delirium by Lauren Oliver  and Bad Review: Wither by Lauren De Stefano […]

Comment