Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

"I always knew I was an excellent liar; I just didn't know that I had it in me to fool myself."

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. 

Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?

My rating:

I picked it up because:
There was a good amount of buzz surrounding this book, and I'd seen lots of good reviews for it, so I decided to give it a try. I hadn't even read a summary before I picked it up, which is a first for me, so I was thrown into the plot of this book all at once.

What I liked:
I love the way that Wither is written. Usually, for me, descriptions of landscapes or a room's decor get boring for me and have me skimming through paragraphs. That, or there's no description at all--a streamlined way of writing. Wither has a nice balance to it. I had such vivid images of the places described, like I explored every room with Rhine and the other characters, but I was never bored of descriptions--they were always woven into the story, never an awkward block of text trying to describe everything the author imagined.

What I loved so much about this book is that I never had to fill in the lines--when someone was in pain or excited or otherwise, it was in the book. In other books I've read, the plot is so closely tied to our main character that all we see of others is when someone else is relevant to what's happening to the main character. It was different with Rhine, though. She was, like a real person, just one of many people with many feelings and internal conflict and things happening in her life. Though it's from Rhine point of view, you see so much of other people's lives and emotions, and they're all so real--not cardboard fill-ins of what a good character should say or do, but real, opinionated, complex characters.

The last thing I want to mention is the relationships Rhine forms. They're not black and white--complex characters can only form complex relationships--and you never know quite how to characters stood, but they're genuine; relatable. It's not assumed that she cares for the people she does; you can tell her feelings are real. She cries for her friends, laughs with them, gets angry for them when someone or something wrongs them. Her feelings are complicated, like all feelings are, and you know she really feels them--you feel them along with her.

What I didn't like:

There's a small shout-out to Gabriel in the summary above. It won't spoil anything for you when I tell you he plays the part of Rhine's love interest in the book. I have to say I adored that, while playing this fundamental part, he was not shoved in our faces, nor was Rhine's every thought is not consumed by thoughts or his luscious hair and/or gorgeous eyes like some other books. *cough cough* (Pretty much any YA book on the market.) *cough cough* On the flipside, though, I wished there had been more of him in the story. I wanted to connect with him in every way that Rhine had, but I felt like I didn't get to see enough of him.

Even that wasn't that much of a bother to me, though. The only reason I didn't give Wither a full five heart review was the inconsistencies in the world of Wither. Usually I try to overlook them, but I felt like a lot of my questions should've had answers hidden somewhere in the book. I won't get into them all, but one example is that while they continually speak of the poor orphans who rob and steal and do any other desperate act to sustain themselves a life, rich men have poor girls kidnapped so they may have a bride--or brides, as the case may be. It seems to me that these desperate orphans would've been grateful to marry a perfect stranger in exchange for a home and food and the luxuries of a rich life. There was never really an explanation for why this didn't happen, and other little things like this kind of stuck in my mind. Hopefully, with the sequel, all of these kind of plot holes will be covered. 


All in all: Read it. Even if you don't like how the plot sounds, or if more dramatic books aren't your taste, give it a try. The polygamous situation Rhine enters is something that, while I've heard of, I had never really imagined what it would be like. I'd never imagined what it would be like to be kidnapped and forced to marry and have to pretend to enjoy my life because it was the only means of escape. Read it because you'll think new thoughts, experience a world you've probably never have before, and maybe, like me, you'll find a story that enchants you.

Read more reviews for Wither at:
Electrifying Reviews and Writing from the Tub