Book Review: Wither

Published by Simon& Schuster BFYR
Release date March 22, 2011
Buy it on Amazon
Audience: Young Adult, fans of Dystopian, and Emo kids/adults

Another book I bought because of the beautiful cover art, oh, and the fact that Carrie Ryan and Lisa McMann, two authors I’m very fond of, praised the book on the back jacket. I opened the book to find a T. S. Eliot quote,
“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang
But a whimper.”
I stopped there and looked at the cover again and wondered what the heck the Chemical Garden was and what I was going to be reading about. You see, I really never know what a book is about until I read it. I’m spoiler and summary free. The book was subtle, yet compelling, and it was beautifully written. It represents the quietest of whispers in comparison to other dystopian books, but at the same time it had the full effect of the horrors that unfold during the demise of the human race. (Insert here a nod to the conspiracy theorists- modern medicine and governments should be feared and we, err, you were right as far as this book goes.) 

I’m among those who are praising DeStefano. This is her debut novel, and the world she created is imaginative and detailed. It actually makes you feel like you are right there, which isn’t always a good thing.
The main character, Rhine Ellery, is just like every other girl her age—surviving as best as she can before she dies an early death. Women live until they’re twenty, thanks to some glitches modern medicine introduced. Men get only five more years than the woman. The population is diminishing and with the desperation to survive, horrific things become acceptable. Rhine and her twin brother live in an impoverished city, but at least there they can count on each other. Their survival depends on it.

When Rhine is abducted and sold into a marriage along with two other girls who become her sister wives, she has but one goal in her focus-- to get back to her brother. Her struggle to make the most of the last few years of her life and her struggle for freedom, at least in this book, are but a whimper in terms of this particular story, although I have a feeling there will be a bang eventually, in terms the series overall. Rhine is strong willed and opinionated, but careful to keep up appearances for her new husband and his creepy father, who is a first generation, which means he is one of the few survivors before the plague was introduced. The allure of freedom is always on the other side of the wall tempting Rhine, but first she has to earn her freedom by convincing her husband that she is in fact the doting wife he paid for.

This book is not fast paced, which can be, for action lovers, a little frustrating, but you will feel the full impact of withering. I’m ready for the bang now.

Summary from GOODREADS:
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 Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

More about the Author:
The Chemical Garden Website:


  1. I liked Wither. but it was really slow-paced to me. The world was so realistically horrible and it was one of those books that you have to think about before you start another book. I am anxious to read the next book, but only because i felt the ending was a bit too calm. Thanks for the review!

  2. I had a difficult time with the lack of action, but I wondered if that was just me. I struggled picking up another book after Wither as well. I'm guessing there is more action in the next one. I guess we will see!

  3. I couldn't agree more with your review! The characters are great- especially Rhine. I'm ok with taking a break from action-packed books, so the slower pace didn't really bother me.

    Also, (if you aren't already) you should follow Lauren DeStefano on Twitter. She's hilarious!!

    Great review!! :)

  4. Great review! I am looking forward to reading this book. Slow paced books don't bother me if it means better developed characters.

  5. I too had a hard time with the pacing, and almost pulled the bookmark after 50 pages. Thankfully I stuck it out as Wither turned out to be fabulous! Fever cannot get here fast enough.

  6. That she would comply and just live the life she was given. But no, she always came back to remind herself of what is really at stake. Gabriel was nice touch to the book. He let Rhine true self come out and I loved learning about her through him.


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