Thursday, 31 March 2011

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery has only four years left to live when she is kidnapped by the Gatherers and forced into a polygamous marriage. Now she has one purpose: to escape, find her twin brother, and go home – before her time runs out forever.
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 limited time she has left.

I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian young adult fiction recently, so despite my huge excitement when receiving this book, I did have a brief sinking moment of ‘another one? Really?’ But then I started reading, and I couldn’t put it down.

Wither is completely unlike all the other dystopian society’s I’ve read recently. For starters, they’re living in a life of luxury. Yes it’s a gilded cage, but there are so many books where they’re either living in refugee poverty, or carefully doled out government approved portions, that it was a refreshing change to see these girls pampered and treated, and yet still captive and miserable.

I love the cover, it put me in mind of Miss Havisham, which immediately appealed. There has been a sudden flurry of really exciting and imaginative covers sweeping through book stores, and I’ll put my hands up and admit that the first thing that drew me to this was the cover. 

Actually, no, I tell a lie, the first thing was the sheer amount of excitement this book was generating on sites like Twitter. There were so many reviews and excited posts from people who had got hold of advanced copies. So I googled the book, saw the cover, and immediately started demanding that the states send me a copy – because the UK were being lame and not releasing Wither for another few months.

So yes, excitement, cover, blurb! Who is not attracted by that blurb?! It’s awesome! And as I said, I’m starting to feel a little like I O.D on dystopian fiction, but I started reading and I couldn’t stop. The writing is excellent, the voice completely compelling, and I found myself being drawn into the world. It’s not that far from our own, enough changes that it feels futuristic, but it also satisfies the little girl in me that demands palaces and pretty ball gowns. There are plenty of them as well.

The prose is clean, beautifully constructed with moments of sheer brilliance. Rhine is incredibly likeable, and very relatable, and you truly feel for her and the awful situation she’s been placed in. I did kind of feel like she should just ask for her brother to brought to live there as well and a lot of the problems would be solved, but as I got further into the story and I became more and more terrified of Vaughn, I was all for her running away.

Aside from Vaughn, all of the characters have enough facets to keep you busy. They aren’t just background characters, they leap off the page, and no one is all bad. They’re well rounded, fully formed people, and I ended up feeling sorry for people that I hated at the start. I also loved how the relationships developed, not just between Rhine and Gabriel and Linden, but also between the three sister wives. It was such a twisted situation to be put into, and it was fascinating to see what grew from the shared experiences prior to the marriages - one that DeStefano handles impeccably. 

Whilst the end was a little predictable, there were plenty of twists along the way to keep the story fresh and new. And there were uncertainties right up until the end; ever since reading ‘Delirium’ by Lauren Oliver, I don’t trust even remotely happy endings to happen when I expect them to.

I cannot wait for the sequel, I loved this book and I’m eagerly anticipating the next instalment. I highly recommend Lauren DeStefano’s debut novel – we are so lucky at the moment with a flurry of new authors gracing us with their talent, and once again, I’m just so happy that she’s shared her story with us, and I can’t wait to see how it continues.

1 comment:

  1. Just came across your review and it sounds great! My fiance got me this book for Christmas, and as soon as I'm done with Allegiant, I'm picking this one up!! I can't wait to start it (: