Review: Wither, Lauren DeStefano

I have read my share of dystopian stories, and for a book to really stand out, it either needs to have a fantastic, chilling world-building, or characters making me feel everything. Sadly, Wither didn’t make it to my favorite’s shelf, but with an interesting, quite unique story, it managed to keep me entertained and caring for the characters, until the last page.



β€œFate, I think, is a thief.”

By now, we’re all used to these post-apocalyptic worlds, these times where Big Brother rules them all, cruel Games terrify the population, or else. Well I am glad to say that, if there’s anything making Wither stand out from these dystopian stories we all know, it’s how different the story feels. It’s dramatic, it’s something we don’t want to happen, AT ALL, but it felt quite unique and different. In this future, people messed up with science, children, and somehow created a virus, and exponentially reduced everyone’s lifespan to 20 years for women, and 25 for men. Meaning, yes, we’d all be dying or dead by now. This whole idea crept me out right from the start, and made me want to know more about it all. Unfortunately, we don’t get any deeper into what really happened, and the world missed a bit of consistency. I felt like I was waiting for something more to happen from the beginning, something ground breaking, that would make me scream and completely fall head over heels for this story, but it didn’t. I’m not bitter though, because this is the first book of the series, and I am sure more awaits.



β€œThe world seems so clean if you only looked up.”

In order to save the world, we need more children, more ways and more people to find an antidote. We need more wives, and when Rhine is kidnapped, and sold as a polygamous bride, she’s forced to left behind a Manhattan in ruins, and her twin brother. She discovers a completely different world, a wealthy one, she discovers her husband is slowly falling in love with her, she has now to cope with her sisters – also the wives of her husband. Rhine is just a teenager, yet she has just a few years to live, and if we can’t really imagine how that feels, we can’t help but feel for her, and for everyone, their helplessness. However, I had a hard time connecting fully to Rhine, and really rooting for her as a character. She felt a bit underdeveloped, and if I did want her to have her happy ending, I didn’t fall in love with her like I did with other characters, in other stories. Something really was missing, and even as I’m writing this days later, I can’t quite put my finger on what this is.



β€œHis three wives are huddled together on the bare mattress, one of them dying; when we’re together, we form an alliance he can’t touch. He’s scared to even try.”

If you know my taste in books a little by now, I’m always in for great sisterhood relationships. In this book, I was SO happy to find that. Rhine shares her wedding with Linden with two other girls, Jenna, and Cecily. If the first one is older, quieter, the second is all of the opposite. I really loved how the girls got to know each other, shared their time together, grew closer and really got to care for each other. I was definitely rooting for Jenna and Rhine’s friendship especially, but that’s probably because Cecily was made a bit less likeable on purpose. Every girl brought something new to the table, added something to the atmosphere of the story, I really appreciated it.

β€œThere are lots of love stories here,” she says. “They either end happily, or everyone dies.” She laughs, but it sound more like a sob. “What else is there, right?”

Obviously, as if it’s kind of a golden rule in these kind of stories, or maybe to balance the fact that the situation is awful and you know it won’t end well for everyone, there is LOVE. There’s this false, slowly-built relationship between Linden and Rhine, where they get to know each other, and you realize that, after all, Linden doesn’t seem all that bad. But then, who’s the real villain of the story? And then, there’s Gabriel. The trope of the forbidden romance, typical, yet kind of cute. Despite its predictability, I really enjoyed their interactions. However, I sadly found that feelings built too quickly and without leaving too much time for tension and chemistry to be built between the two of them. If I had these, I probably would have rooted for them a bit more.


If I had some chemistry and connection issues, that didn’t prevent me from enjoying the originality of Wither, a dystopian story that feels quite different from anything I have read before. I can only hope the next books will give me this little more I was waiting for. More feelings, more world-building, more of everything.

Final rating:Β  3 drops!

Did you read Wither? Did you enjoy it? Do you want to read it? Share your thoughts in comments!

Lauren DeStefano, Wither, Β Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, March 22nd 2011.

Β goodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

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. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden’s servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

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45 thoughts on “Review: Wither, Lauren DeStefano

  1. How have I never heard of this book? It sounds cute. I also like a good sisterly bond. Have you read Since You’ve Been Gone? I bought that because I thought it sounds cute with the friendship aspect instead of romance. I still need to read it. Love your review, Marie! I shall add this to my TBR. Too bad you weren’t completely in love with it.

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    1. It is really a great story, though it takes a darker turn in the second book. I’m eager to see how this series end. I read Since You’ve Been Gone, I LOVED it so much, I hope you will, too! ❀ Thank you so much! If I wasn't in love with it, I have to say the sequel was better πŸ™‚

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  2. I read this one on its release day all those years ago and enjoyed it a lot. I liked how different it was from the other dystopian books out there. Read book 2 on its release day too but I just felt disconnected (a year between books can do that :P)
    I have yet to finish the series though–I’m hoping to by the end of the year!

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    1. I had no idea that book was released so long ago, ahah. Well, there are so many new books all the time, it’s hard to keep up with the old ones as well, I guess.
      Oh I completely understand the feeling, having to wait too long for another book to come out is the worst, at times. I hope you’ll finish the series soon, and that you’ll enjoy it, I’ll be looking forward to your thoughts about it! πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much!! ❀

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  3. I’ve read a fair few dystopian books as well and I agree with you that, for me, a story needs something special to make it stand out. After a while the dystopian books I was reading didn’t have that and I haven’t really picked any up since. It’s a shame this one didn’t make that list for you. I agree the premise sounds amazing, the fact that people die young makes for a chilling story (I’d already be dead in this world) but it sucks the world building didn’t really expand on any of that
    I hope the next book is better for you. Great review Marie! πŸ˜€

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    1. I’m really happy to say that the sequel is much, much better. Much creepier and chilling as well: where everything was kind of a bit, slow; it gets faster and we discover more of the world and everything. I’m a bit sad the first book wasn’t too much on the world building though. Thank you SO much πŸ˜€

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      1. Oh that’s god to hear, I guess there are some series where it just takes a while to get into the swing of things. Maybe this is one that will just get better and better as it goes along.
        I guess in the first book the world-building was pushed aside for the characters or the story? Who knows? Either way at least it’s being expanded on now, that’s something.
        And that’s all right! πŸ˜€

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    1. Oh well at least this makes me feel a bit better that I’m not the only one feeling this way. It’s too bad, this first book had a lot of potential. I read the second, and it gets better in terms of world-building, not so much with the chemistry, but it was still better πŸ™‚ Thank you! ❀


  4. I was intrigued by Wither when it came out and people seem to love it, but I’m really get sick of the whole “women sold as breeders” trope. Especially in sci-fi/fantasy (my favorite genres). Ugh. I also just have this odd visceral reaction against polygamy. Maybe I spent too much time researching ancient world harems. But that’s me, oh well.

    Still, glad you enjoyed it! πŸ™‚ Sounds as if the story does have some good stuff going for it.

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    1. Oh, I get your feeling, and if you’re getting a bit sick of this, it might not be the book for you. I was a bit on the fence about the first book, but I ended up enjoying the second way more. Maybe sometimes you’ll be willing to give it a try πŸ™‚ Thank you so much πŸ™‚


  5. I haven’t read Wither before but it definitely sounds like a great dystopian world that I could sink my teeth into. In particular, I like the sound of the friendships and the sisterhood, even though the romance moved a bit fast. Lovely review Marie!

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      1. I know! She’s a poet with words. I loved this series by her…I think she’s on my fave author list. She’s my friend on Goodreads: when people friend her, they friend her right back!


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