Arlene's Reviews > Wither

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
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's review
Aug 07, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: read-2011, ya-dystopic, pretty-dresses, young-adult
Recommended to Arlene by: Publisher Review Request...
Read from December 04 to 08, 2011

This is going to be one of my rare exceptions where I’m giving a generous star rating to a book that had me simultaneously cringe, confused and connected all at the same time.

My mixed feelings for Wither apparently correspond with the wide range of reactions I’ve seen for this novel. But either way, I’ll admit now that I’m moving on to the sequel, not because I was offered to read the ARC… well not solely, but I’m really interested to see how this story unfolds and hopefully comes together.

In Wither we meet sixteen year old Rhine on the day she is kidnapped along with several other girls around her age by a groups of Gathers, whose sole purpose is to collect girls to marry them off into polygamist relationships to hopefully give the human race a chance at survival. See they think their actions are noble because they live in a time and place where cancer treatment had a rebounding effect on the next generation. Girls die off at the age of 20 and guys at the age of 25, so these girls are taken from their homes to live as sister wives and procreate to keep the remaining population from dying out. Rhine refuses to accept her situation and from the day she enters Linden’s compound, she looks for a way to escape and find her twin brother. With the help of Gabriel a house servant, Rhine survives one day at a time and searches for that one opportunity to escape this dangerous world of lies and abuse.

First off, I have to point out that I felt the world building is extremely flawed. What sort of world catastrophe demolishes all of the countries while simultaneously leaving the US virtually unscathed? That seems too random and unlikely that I had a hard time envisioning a setting where only the US exists and all other countries are wiped off the face of the earth.

Also, the science behind the story is extremely weak as I can’t for the life of me figure out the biological explanation for girls dying at the exact age of 20 and guys at the age of 25. It all feels so random and too exact when all you hear of medical explanations is that “everybody responds differently” and “not everyone is the same.” Why that age? What happens to the body at those ages that triggers such a response? Is it an autoimmune deficiency? A virus? Also, if the cause of this unexplained anomaly stems back to the fact that it resulted from a cancer treatment, why was it given to absolutely everyone? Couldn’t they limit the treatment and test the results? Not everyone develops cancer and sadly not everyone has access to medical treatment, so how did this happen?

As far at the Gathers who kidnap the girls, I don’t understand why they come in gray suits to announce themselves rather than using some other stealthy method of operation. Not that I want to give them any ideas, but really? And then they kidnap a group of let’s say 6 to 7 girls with the intent of forcing them into polygamist relationships for the sole purpose of experimenting on them and forcing them to have babies, so explain to me why they kidnap a bunch of them and kill off half before they even arrive to the compound? Believe me, I don’t wish that on anyone, but why do they collect so many and kill off half of the girls at the onset? Doesn't this contradict with their initial purpose of trying to keep the population from dying off?

In terms of the time setting, it feels futuristic ... say maybe 75 to 100 years in the future. It was rather ambiguous or I must have missed it, but that seems like such a short amount of time in the not too distant future to have our legal and government system go to shit where it allows for underage marriages, illegal drinking, polygamy, child slavery, disregard for the age of consent, flaunting of kidnapping where the girls are televised on television. What the hell??? What crazy world is this?

So why my generous rating? Wow, this is going to be tough to explain! But here goes... there was something elegant about parts of this book. Not glaringly so, but sort of subtle. There were relationships among the characters, such as the sister wives and creepily enough between Linden and Rhine that felt geniune and pure. You'll have to read the book to understand, but trust me I came undone at some of the stuff that was presented, but that didn't stop me from realizing the underlying beauty that was there when you peal away the many layers of this book. That's my peace...

Anywho, I’m really interested to see how this story unfolds, if anything to see if Lauren DeStefano is able to tighten up the loose ends and provide some sort of explanation for aspect of her world building.

Overall, there are some cringe-worthy scenes, but when it’s presented in such a creepy yet captivating way, I have to admit I’m shamelessly intrigued.
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Reading Progress

12/06/2011 page 96
27.0% "Hmmm... this book has a slight cringe factor to it, but I'm morbidly curious how it all turns out. :O" 2 comments
12/07/2011 page 162
45.0% "Errrr.... yeah, that's just not right. :/" 2 comments
show 1 hidden update…

Comments (showing 1-50 of 62) (62 new)

Crystal I can't wait to see which side of the fence you will sit on =D

Arlene I read the first paragraph last night and decided to get some rest before I dive into this maddness. LOL I'm not going to look back at my flist reviews until I'm done, but if I remember correctly Tina didn't like it, but you were "slighly" okay with it. Other than that, I'm not peeking until I'm done. I have to read the second one no matter what though since I got the ARC. Wish me luck! :P

message 3: by Crystal (last edited Dec 05, 2011 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Crystal Okay I am going to stay mum! I will keep my eye out for your updates =D Good Luck twinie!!

message 4: by Jessa (new) - added it

Jessa I have thought about reading this a few times now - I look forward to seeing what you think about it first lol ;)

Arlene Thanks Crystal.

@ Jessica. I was in the same boat. I kept going back and forth on reading it and then the publisher sent me the ARC for book 2, so that incented me to read this one sooner. :) I'll let you know how it goes.

message 6: by ♥Rachel♥ (new)

♥Rachel♥ The whole polygamous marriage thing kinda turned me off of this book. Are you liking this so far, Arlene?

Arlene I'm interested in the story enough to continue, but I think I feel the same way as you... multiple wives all under the age of 18 is not sitting well with me. :/

message 8: by ♥Rachel♥ (new)

♥Rachel♥ I'll await your review to make a decision on whether to add it or not. (Wait, it's already in my TBR, LOL!) Guess I'll see if I need to remove it! :)

Paola I read it last year. I must say it's very different. Some parts are strange lol.

Paola I will order the rest of the series when it comes out to see what happens.

message 11: by ♥Rachel♥ (new)

♥Rachel♥ Paola, it seems when you read the first book you feel committed to see it throught sometimes. :)

message 12: by Paola (last edited Dec 06, 2011 07:19PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paola Well it did get better and I liked the ending. So I would like to see what happens. It's very different and takes place in the future. So far I haven't read anything else like it. By the way in the mail today I got Shatter Me :o)I will start that tomorrow. And I got emails that Shattered Souls, and Clockwork Prince shipped so i'm excited. :o)

message 13: by ♥Rachel♥ (new)

♥Rachel♥ Oh, good for you Paola! I loved Shatter Me!

Paola Last night I read The Ghost and The Goth in 4 hours :o) It was really funny and sweet. Then I realized theres was a book 2 so I ordered it and now I see book 3 is in May lol :o) What has been your favorite book this year?

message 15: by Brooke (new) - added it

Brooke Oh, I'm looking forward to your review Arlene! I've got this one at home.

Crystal Arlene just be prepared it gets worse before it gets anywhere near better.

Paola Crystal did you like the book?

Crystal Yes and no. I had to really suspend my beliefs and reality to get into it. I thought the end was much better than the beginning and I will definitely read the sequel. It is sitting on my shelf as we speak. Did you??

Arlene I got half way through. Wow! I'm really not sure how I feel about some of the stuff that's happending. Can you remind me how old Cecily is? :/

Crystal Is she the youngest one?? If so she is 14 and her storyline disgusted me :(

Arlene Yup, she's the youngest one. Ugh! Yeah, I don't care for that. ~shivers~

Crystal I think if the author had taken that part out I would not have been so icked out by the whole thing. Her storyline is the worst one.

Arlene So far it is the most cringe-worthy one. I'm going to try and finish it tonight. I hope Fever doesn't have this ick factor.

Crystal I don't think it will since the setting will change. I have hope lol.

Morgan F But the writing is so pretty.......

Arlene I'm definitely interested in how this will unfold. There are just a few weak elements to this story... the science... the world-building... but other than that, I want to finish this.

Paola Crystal wrote: "Yes and no. I had to really suspend my beliefs and reality to get into it. I thought the end was much better than the beginning and I will definitely read the sequel. It is sitting on my shelf a..."

It was a bit strange but the ending got better so yes im looking forward to the sequel

Paola I hope the trilogy has a happy ending.

message 29: by ♥Rachel♥ (new)

♥Rachel♥ Amazing review Arlene! I really got a good view of the book from this. I don't know if I could handle it though. Is the whole book centered on her escape? Or is there talk of looking for a cure? Sounds incredibly bleak, especially for a YA.

Arlene Thanks Rachel. There are some themes my brain resists, but I have to admit there wasn't anything in Wither that I couldn'd handle and I'm some what conservative in certain aspects. The book does center on her escape, but it also focuses on her relationship with the other "sister wives" which was really geniune because they cared for each other so much and not in a creepy way. They were trying to help each other survive and even though the other two accepted their fate, that didn't stop them from trying to help Rhine escape. Also, the husband, Linden, was not a creep at all. He wsa completely clue-less and sort of child-like in his beliefs and thinking. (view spoiler). It was his father who is the manipulator.

Anywho, if you decide to read the book and don't want to invest in it, you can borrow mine Rachel. :0

message 31: by ♥Rachel♥ (new)

♥Rachel♥ Thanks Arlene, maybe I will. (After the first of the year).

How is it that Rhine has a father is the males die at 25?

Wendy Darling I had mixed feelings about this as well, Arlene, but I ended up rating it a "3" like you did. Nicely reviewed!

Alexa Really nice review! Still have no idea whether I will like this one or not. @.@ But I think I have to get to it soon...almost due at the library! lol

Arlene @ Rachel. Sounds good. Just let me know. Rhine is part of the first generation where the girls and guys die off at that young age. The parents in this story live longer lives free of cancer, but their children suffer the devastating effect of the treatment. (view spoiler)

@ Wendy. Thank you! Yes, mixed feelings, conflicted emotions... all resulting in me reaching for the sequel. :)

Arlene LOL Alexa. And, you have the ARC at the ready... :) I think you might be okay with this story. The only reason I second guess myself is because both Nic and Tina didn't like it, but Crystal and I were okay with it. I have mixed feelings... parts I liked and parts I cringed. There are some pretty positive reviews out there too. Tough decision... :/

Crystal Your review says exactly how I felt. I agree with you completely. I thought Linden seemed more child like than even Cecily at times and I am glad that there wasn't any pressure from him. Great review twinie!!

Arlene Thanks Crystal! Yes, Linden was so clueless in an endearing sort of way. I felt bad for him because I know he cared for Rhine and didn't want to lose her, but what struck me as odd is that I don't think he ever tried to learn about Rhine, Cecily or Jenna's past. Like he didn't care about their life before coming to his mansion. You would think he'd try to learn something about them... or maybe he was too busy buddy reading the Kama Sutra book with them to care. ^^

Crystal I thought that too, but I just assumed that his dad lied to him and told him not to ask the girls anything. Like how I rationalized that one lol =P LMAO I think you are probably right XD

Vinaya I want the sequel! *cries* I don't think I have EVER seen a book that produces mixed reactions in so many people. Pretty much everyone's reactions are along the line of 'stupid worldbuilding-but the writing's so PRETTY!-ewww thirteen year old secks-where's the damn sequel already?!' :)

Arlene @ Crystal, Yes Linden's dad seemed to have had a lot of control over him. He was so creepy! LOL I tripped out that the KS book was mentioned. :/ LOL

@ Vinaya... Oh this book does have quite the wide spectrum of reactions! LOL I started the sequel last night and she immediately jumps into ironing out some of the world-building issues. I hope you get your sequel soon!

message 41: by ♥Rachel♥ (last edited Dec 10, 2011 03:14PM) (new)

♥Rachel♥ I thought that was a joke you were making about the KS, Arlene! It was actually in the book? Gross!

Arlene LOL! Yes it was in the book. I was a little suprised it was in this "YA" Book. :/

Paola Yes I was suprised also....This book was strange, but I still want to know what happens lol.

Crystal I know! I was like ummm the book is creepy enough without that added!

Paola The book was totally strange lol and yes like you said creepy. As I was reading I was wondering why would someone write stuff like this. A bit bothered by it if you ask me, I'm just going to read the rest when it comes out to see how much stranger it will get lol. That might sound odd but i'm a bit curious what she will write to top all the strange stuff off. Oh and I do NOT think this was really a YA book. The characters may be young but i'm sure people would not want there kids reading this.

Arlene There are parts that definitely don't feel YA, agreed. Wait till you read book 2! It's morbidly addicting. :/

Paola Arlene you read it already?

Arlene I'm not done with it. I got about 100 pages in and had to put it aside for a buddy read. I'll pick it up again tomorrow and hopefully be done in a couple of days. :)

Paola :o)

message 50: by ♥Rachel♥ (new)

♥Rachel♥ I have to read this series now. With all the controversy it seems like it is thought provoking. If Arlene says "morbidly addicting," I'm in! LOL!

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