Wigs's Reviews > Wither

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
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May 16, 2012

liked it
Read from July 26 to 30, 2012

First of all I'd like to say that this book could have been four stars on writing style alone. However, I have to agree with most other reviewers and say that the world created for this dystopian story is nonsensical to the point that it gets score deduction on pure, eyebrow-raising wtfuckery.

I did really like the concept, the plot based around being kidnapped and forced to be a wife in a polygamous marriage along with two other wives (and an already existing dying first wife, for four wives in all.) It's a fascinating situation and since I haven't read any polygamy stories before I was really intrigued. However, this whole concept would have been more powerful if we chopped off the whole dystopian part of the plot and set it in modern times, and she was kidnapped and the world went on by without her, and she was trapped in this house with these people, and nobody knew. In this book however, polygamy is the norm among the wealthy and so, even though we are meant to be jarred by this futuristic possibility, I feel like it loses an emotional punch.

The whole reason why the author wanted to set it in the dystopian is so she could have the virus be the issue. All women die at 20, all men die at 25. Which is an interesting concept floating in it's own little thought bubble, but it doesn't make sense. Why do men get 5 extra years? Men are in their physical prime around 25 so why does 5 extra years make them more susceptible to the virus than they were at 20 when women die? Besides the reason that oh, well, it's so the story works. Rhine's parents were scientists working with the virus. So Rhine could have EASILY talked to us about the science of what happens. But since I don't think the author really had any reason, it's just like oh. Kay.

The main issue with all the little irksome things that are sprinkled through the novel is they just don't make sense. And not in the "they don't make sense if you think about them too much" kind of way, but the "they don't make sense if you think about them at all" kind of way. North America is the only surviving continent after WWIII, completely in tact, coast to coast, with Florida and the island of Manhattan being the main places the story is about. Zero sea level. And all the other continents are under water.

Let me introduce the difficult simple concept of displacement. When something is placed in water, the water level rises equal to the amount of area of the object that went underneath. Sooooo if all the continents are down there, then I'm pretty sure like...none of the North American continent would exist at all, or maybe just the highest places but that's pushing it. And the ice caps have vaporized...okay but...vapor turns back into water and comes back down so...more water... BUT OKAY. Maybe they figured it out how to make America float.

And while we're at it, really? It's all gone? All the other landmasses? She said that you can't even see anything left from space but...what about...Everest? And the Himalayas? No? Really? It's all gone? Did they destroy Antarctica in WW3? Why? Was it a threat? Because....I mean....clearly if America is COMPLETELY untouched then this was a controlled destruction. My level of "I can't even" is growing thinking about it but oh well.

See other Wither reviews for more "wtf, world-building?" point outs.

THE GOOD NEWS IS that you can kind of pretend all of that isn't important because everything takes place in the one house pretty much the whole book. I guess you can even pretend that everything Rhine knows is just a lie, and that the rest of the world still does exist out there, but I'm sure that isn't the authors intention. Oh, and it's supposed to be hundreds of years in the future but everything is the same, clothing style, food, plumbing, etc, save for a musical instrument that makes 3D projections when you play it, but even then...

(and we could probably make that happen with our technology here already, as the Wither version has set projections on discs that just get inserted into the piano.) I wish she had been more creative with the future.

Anyway anyway... so aside from all that I did like reading about the relationship of the sister wives. I found it very interesting how the dynamic is presented, how sometimes they seem to form a unit that frightens Linden, their husband. I'd also like to mention that some reviews state "well she has it so good, why does she want to leave?" I can't believe some people are saying that, as it's very clear to me, but of course I have vague experience in understanding what it's like. (I dated someone like Linden, not polygamist, of course, lol, but passive, clueless, self-absorbed, and expecting sex, and so while reading about Linden I was vomiting in my mind over thinking about being trapped in that marriage.) And as for living in a nice house and being waited on hand and foot, well, that would be boring and mind-numbing in probably less than a week. A gilded cage is still a cage after all. I understand the motivation to get out, it was never unclear to me that that should be the goal.

I do agree that the character is stupid in her poor planning, as she has all the time in the world to put together a plan and her final act is one of desperation instead of strategy. A desperate act might have been more appropriate for a shorter time period but she is there for about a year and so I will have to agree with that point.

I apologize that I seem to be tearing this to bits as I do think the books has its merits. As I said, the writing style is lovely, and huge props for no typos as so often do I find them in published YA books nowadays, I found none. I was able to blow through it very fast, for me as someone who usually reads slowly, and even though I wish there had been more action (as it was a lot of house house house house stuff happening in the house house house still in the same house, haha) but I was still enjoying it and will probably read the second book. I would definitely like to read a different series by the author that will, hopefully next time, be better thought out in underlying conceptual ideas.

Go ahead and read it if you think that going into it you'll be able to ignore the obvious logic fails, but despite my complaints I don't regret reading it and think it was at least a nice bit of prose to muse over. Here's to hoping the second one will make a bit more sense!
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Reading Progress

07/26/2012 page 69
19.0% 2 comments
07/27/2012 page 144
40.0% "I imagine Linden as Jon Snow, lol. I can't get the image out of my head after it said he had dark curls that hung around his face. And now it just squicks me out thinking that Jon Snow is a polygamist.
07/28/2012 page 232
65.0% 9 comments
02/11/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Mizuki I just can't believe Linden would be so clueless, believing Rhine really, truly loves him when the girl has been denying him sex for a whole damn year. It's unrealistic.

Tara I was also wondering about the other continents, but there is a part where it's mentioned that Rose and her parents believed the other continents were still out there and that people from other countries might be able to help find a cure for the virus. If that's true than you wouldn't have to worry about the water displacement. I hope this is an idea that might be explored in the following books.

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