Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (March 22, 2011)
Source: My Choice
Obviously, something went terribly wrong. Genetic mutations have festered, reducing human longevity to twenty-five, even less for most women. To prevent extinction, young girls are kidnapped, mated in polygamous marriages with men eager to procreate. Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery, a recent victim of this breeding farm mentality, has vowed to break loose from its fetters; but finding allies and a safe way out is a challenge she can only hope she will survive. A dystopian fantasy series starter with wings.
What I realized about five pages into Wither: author Lauren DeStefano created a dystopian world that was different from any other I had read (and I've read a lot of dystopian lit in my time). When shots ring out just a few pages in, you know Wither is going to be different. People are going to die. A lot of people. The girls at the beginning? Well, that's just the tip of the tragic iceberg that Rhine Ellery must face.
In Wither, a once perfect world has gone horribly wrong. The first generation of people, genetically modified to be perfect, are living long, healthy lives. Their children, however, are not. In fact, they all die. No exceptions. In this dark world, we meet Rhine, a beautiful 16-year-old girl who has fought hard to live life on her terms. That doesn't matter, though, when she is captured and forced into marriage with Linden, a handsome, rich 20-year-old.
Wither shares the same mythology of other dystopian romances, except that there is just something different about this book that I can't quite put into words. Instead of living in oblivion, everyone knows the system is broken and something is wrong. There is none of that "this is the best way to live" that permeates the societies of the dystopian world. Instead, this is a society already crumbling, and I found reading a book from that standpoint fascinating, and totally unique.
There is nothing about Wither that feels familiar to the reader. Rhine is a fascinating and powerful young woman. She knows that life is short, and she wants to live with as much reckless abandon as she can. She wants to experience all the world was, instead of all it is. And, she knows she can't do that as Linden's wife, secluded away from all the darkness around her.
I really liked Rhine. I thought she was a fun character to read, even though her sister-wives just about drove me batty. They felt more like foils, designed to bring out Rhine's superior character. But, in that regard, I guess they worked!
I am interested to see where the rest of the series goes and if DeStefano can keep her unique world fully-realized. The sequel, Fever, comes out in February. I will be waiting to see what happens to Rhine next.
Final Thoughts: Borrow