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.
A PROMISING AND KIND OF CREEPY START
“Fate, 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.
INTERESTING MAIN CHARACTER, BUT SOMETHING MISSING
“The 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.
GREAT SISTERHOOD, BUT A LACK OF CHEMISTRY.
“His 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.
“There 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: 3 drops!
Did you read Wither? Did you enjoy it? Do you want to read it? Share your thoughts in comments!
Lauren DeStefano, Wither, Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, March 22nd 2011.
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?