Wither by Lauren DeStefanoWither by Lauren DeStefano


byLauren DeStefano

Paperback | December 6, 2011

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What if you knew exactly when you’d die? The first book of The Chemical Garden Trilogy.

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males born with a lifespan of 25 years, and females a lifespan of 20 years--leaving the world in a state of panic. Geneticists seek 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 sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Yet 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 has no way to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive.

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?
Lauren Destefano won The Thornton Wilder Award for a short story entitled Orange Blood while in high school. She received a BA in English with a concentration in creative writing from Albertus Magnus College in Connecticut in 2007. She is the author of the Chemical Garden Trilogy.
Title:WitherFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:384 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.1 inShipping dimensions:8.25 × 5.5 × 1.1 inPublished:December 6, 2011Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young ReadersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1442409061

ISBN - 13:9781442409064

Appropriate for ages: 14


Rated 2 out of 5 by from Tamed There's comparisons to The Handmaiden's Tale because of the idea that they're being kidnapped and sold into houses to have babies. But the book is pretty tamed so I don't understand why such a dark, serious topic is glossed over and the girls are basically living it up.
Date published: 2018-05-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from really cool very interesting and almost complex story. I rather enjoyed this book The characters feel very real !
Date published: 2018-05-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Meh I really had mixed feelings about this novel. I feel the plot was just okay. I guess I didn't like the setup of this dystopian novel where husbands have several wives. I made it all the way through this novel, but I didn't want to continue the series.
Date published: 2018-01-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from cool This was great, i loved the story.
Date published: 2018-01-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wither Good read. Interesting plot and characters. Did not interest me enough to continue reading the other books.
Date published: 2017-11-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Shocking This book was my introduction to young adult and I was glad I chose this one. Anyone of any age can appreciate this book. It's very dark, unique and shocking; you get a world where teenagers are forced to become parents and engage in polygamy for the sake of humanity. I mean how many young adult novels dive into this kind of content? It's a very addicting book that can be finished in a day.
Date published: 2017-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really Good! I read this book pretty fast! All the unknown lead me to keep on reading! It was a little creepy at some parts, but this alter world is quite interesting! I fell in love with most of the characters!
Date published: 2017-10-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Prett Good! I read this book pretty fast! All the unknown lead me to keep on reading! It was a little creepy at some parts, but this alter world is quite interesting! I fell in love with most of the characters!
Date published: 2017-10-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty Good! I read this book pretty fast! All the unknown lead me to keep on reading! It was a little creepy at some parts, but this alter world is quite interesting! I fell in love with most of the characters!
Date published: 2017-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An all-time favorite This book has been one of my favorites since it came out. I love the plot, the characters, the writing, and the world building. It's something I'm content to read over and over again.
Date published: 2017-10-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must Read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! An outstanding series with totally complex and unique characters, DeStefano has created a twisted and falsely beautiful world readers won't be able to get enough of.
Date published: 2017-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing An outstanding series with totally complex and unique characters, DeStefano has created a twisted and falsely beautiful world readers won't be able to get enough of.
Date published: 2017-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant Beautifully written in a unique world, every character is multi-dimension and circumstance challenges morals, love it!
Date published: 2017-09-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Beautifully Written The plot was very quiet but I every character was interesting #plumreviews
Date published: 2017-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love It!!!!!!!!!!! Captivating and dark, the Chemical Garden Trilogy is an outstanding series that highlights the struggle to survive in a dystopian, virus-filled world, how true love can still survive, and how no one is who they appear to be.
Date published: 2017-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding This book is one of my all time favorites! The storyline and characters are highly addictive and DeStefano's writing style hooks the reader into the complex, mysterious, and dangerous world of marriage and people who never have long to live because of the virus
Date published: 2017-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my all time Favourites I love this book! I loved the air of mystery in this book. The cover was the first thing to draw me in and then where we begin in Rhine's story just hooked me. The plot is well paced and there is always something to keep your interest.
Date published: 2017-08-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Typical Just seemed like a generic YA book complete with dystopian world, pretty girl who finds herself desired by many suitors, not a whole lot of plot, okay characters, and mediocre climax/ending. Overall, just alright.
Date published: 2017-05-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wither With the circumstances of the story, the romance is tricky, but I enjoyed Rhine’s conflicting emotions, she’s constantly looking for a way out of her horrible situation, yet she cares about the people stuck there with her. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivated by the cover This was an impulse buy based on the beautiful cover but the content did not disappoint. I love the world building and the concept of the novel. It was a good read that lead me to its sequels.
Date published: 2017-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read it I don't know what to say without going on an insane rant, so take my word for it and read the book
Date published: 2017-02-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great series! Loved this series, it was written really well and quite different.
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved it! this was so unique, and the writing so realistic. i fell in love with the characters, this was very well written
Date published: 2017-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I LOVED this book! I understand that with anything in life people are going to have mixed reviews on things but I honestly don't know how anyone could hate this book! For me it had everything I love in a good book and kept me hanging on to every word. Thank god they had the whole series out by the time I read this one as I read the trilogy in less then a few days. Unfortunately my copies were ruined by water damage in a leaky basement but I will probably repurchase in the future, they're that good!
Date published: 2017-01-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not Bad ** spoiler alert ** Not bad. It was okay in the writing and characters and plot but I feel like there wasn't an overall larger plot. It was creepy and devastating in that they were basically prisoners and the youngest character forced into marriage (all of them really but especially the youngest) but it didn't move me as well as I hoped.
Date published: 2017-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the Best Series I've Ever Read! I adore this book so much! An amazing read!
Date published: 2017-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Unique! This book is like nothing ive read before. The concept is so utterly unique and harrowing! I enjoyed the entire series!
Date published: 2017-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! This series is one of my all time favorites. The concept is amazing and I really love the characters. It was very cleverly written and can I just say I loved Rhine so much? She never gave up seeking out her brother and to me, that is some really strong dedication. Also, the world presented here can easily become our world, and knowing this while reading was a very eerie adventure.
Date published: 2017-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Very good futuristic style of writing, very dark but very intriguing, one of my favorite series.
Date published: 2017-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this book So different from the other books I have read from this genre. It was a book that I could share with my daughter. Definitely a must read
Date published: 2016-12-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Innovative and Imaginative "Wither" an imaginative and innovative dystopian novel is set in the future after a catastrophic global disruption has left North America the only survivor but plagued by a genetic virus that kills girls at age twenty and males at twenty-five. To ensure humanity's continued existence girls are kidnapped and sold into polygamous marriages as early as age 13 or if rejected are swallowed up by prostitution rings, or disappear never to be heard of again. In this dark, forbidding atmosphere of uncertainty Rhine Ellery a hardworking sixteen year old living with her brother Rowan in New York is abducted and sold to a House Governor in Florida. Far from home and hating the loss of her freedom she vows to escape her forced marriage to Linden Ashley , but all is not what it seems in the wealthy mansion where all her needs are catered to, and secrets abound. With two sister wives, one resigned to her fate and the other eager to fulfill her responsibility , Rhine must play a role if she hopes to see her brother again. But her escape plan goes astray not only when a hurricane threatens the mansion but as she begins to fall for her captor. With stories and flashbacks to her past in New York Rhine's discontent grows as she searches for an escape route from a mansion that seems impregnable. Tension and suspense continually build when Rhine pursues a friendship with Gabriel, a young servant willing to go with her, while making an enemy of Linden's father a scientist searching for a cure for the virus. Mystery thrives in a mansion where Housemaster Vaughn conducts his research in the basement, the body of Linden's former wife was dissected and her baby disappeared. The plot is emotionally-charged as Rhine faces threats, intimidation, betrayal and a man she's determined not to love. Quickly and smoothly events unfold that keep you on the edge of your seat as they progress to a surprising cliff-hanger at the end. Like the plot the characters are fascinating, their personalities complex with all their flaws and faults. Rhine (Ellery) Ashley is guarded, reluctant to reveal her past to her sister wives and Linden. She's compassionate and kind, winning not only the approval of the servants but forging friendships with the other wives while playing a deceptive role to win a place in Linden's heart. Yet for all her dishonesty and unwillingness to care for her husband she finds herself drawn to the House Governor. Linden Ashley a talented architect is reclusive, gentle but fragile, shattered by the death of his wife Rose. Struggling to balance his duty to his other two wives and his love for Rhine, he struggles to win her heart. Although an attraction begins to develop between Rhine and Linden she's determined to ignore it, preferring the attentions of the abused but good-natured servant Gabriel. Included among a host of well-developed and unforgettable characters that add passion and energy to the drama is the self-absorbed, impatient and sassy thirteen year old Cecily; the timid and sullen sister wife Jenna who's haunted by the murder of her sisters; Linden's demanding but terminally ill former wife Rose; and the enigmatic and dangerous Housemaster Vaughn. I enjoyed "Wither" the first book in "The Chemical Garden" series, the danger to Rhine escalating as she looks for escape and a way home to her brother.
Date published: 2016-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from beautiful and creepy For fans of dystopia and romance! This novel is beautifully romantic yet incredibly creepy.....with a storyline that's sure to keep you interested!
Date published: 2015-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wither Entraps u in a world of suspence.
Date published: 2014-06-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from interesting & creepy decided on this novel after all the reviews i read on website. sounded alright and reviewers were raving about it. themes are similar to all the big hyped dystopian series out there. pros: - i enjoyed the sister bond of the 3 new wives. you'll pick your fave. - food description is good. makes you want to have a june bean - destefano's description is vivid and imaginative. i could picture the setting, dresses, characters, etc - the big bad- vaughan actually gives you the creeps - you'll be wondering what is the mystery with the basement & what are they doing down there - secrets will be revealed cons: - looking for your sibling...been there done that - some dull moments in the book. i thought it wasn't going to go anywhere - it's pretty predictable overall i enjoyed the book. i haven't decided if i'm going to rush out and get the 2nd one, but it is on my TBR list. i think the series has potential. i really liked the sister jenna and ceciley. they help the story a lot.
Date published: 2013-03-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wither will make you wither away wanting to know what happens next! Not a bad dystopian teen fiction, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone under 16 years old. This deals with a future when men die at the ripe old age of 25 and women at 20, due to people messing around with genetics. Girls are kidnapped and sold into multi-wives marriages in order to breed a new generation. Our main character, Rhine, is one of those kidnapped girls, leaving her twin brother behind in New York as she is taken to Florida. All she wants to do is escape. I found myself sometimes sympathizing with some of the 'bad guy' characters in the novel. I find that often with teen books, that the main character isn't able to see situations from another point of view. You will know what I mean if you read this one. All in all, it was a decent read, I liked the main character and it has an interesting portrayal of a possible future.
Date published: 2012-07-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from an interesting dystopia This and other reviews can be found on http://readingbetweenclasses.blogspot.com/ Cover Impressions: At first glance, this cover falls into the category of "pretty girl in a pretty dress". However, upon closer inspection there are several elements that tell a lot about the story. These elements are tied together by lines and circles, the reader is enticed to follow. I am a big fan of covers that beg re-examination and allow for exclamations of "Oh!" as the text and the cover begin to meld together in a wonderful stew of symbolism. The Gist: Rhine Ellery's life is ebbing away. She knows that, like all young women born of her generation, she will die at the age of 20. No longer believing in the possibility of a miracle cure, she was content to live out her days struggling for survival with her brother, Rowan. However, the Gatherers had different plans. They swept her off the streets of New York and put her on display as a child bride for the wounded Linden. Now, surrounded by wealth and opulence, Rhine sees the damage and decay beneath the beautiful facade and begins her fight to escape and to live the meager years she has left, as she chooses. Review: On the surface, it appears that Rhine has found paradise. A sprawling mansion, a gentle and caring husband and fellow wives whom she grows to love as sisters. However, this world is based on an illusion, nothing on the surface is real and it is only when one ventures below that they finally see the sharks that have been circling their legs the entire time. Rhine must decide whether it is better to live (and die) in a beautiful illusion or to risk her life escaping to a world that is harsh and cruel, but real. Destefano does not allow for one dimensional characters and presents each of her creations as a unique individual with motivations and desires that are the reader can understand, even if we don't necessarily agree with them. Vaughn, in particular, is an incredible villain. He is singularly focused and willing to sacrifice anyone in order to further his cause. His every word is cold, calculating and dripping with double meanings. But, even in such a cruel an cunning man, we are able to see his motivation and to question what levels we might stoop to in the hopes of finding a cure. In Wither the plot does not explode like a firework but rather unfurls slowly but steadily, enveloping the reader and investing them in the lives of each character. Unfortunately, there is a lack of tension that tempers the excitement level. I adore books that leave the reader holding their breath, willing for fate to step in an ensure success for our heroine, this was not one of those books. There was simply not a strong enough sense of danger to make me actually fear for Rhine's life. This book is a strong opening to the trilogy. I look forward to seeing what other horrors this world holds. Teaching/Parental Notes: Age: 15 and up Gender: Female Sex: Spoken about but not described. Violence: Kidnapping, poisoning? Inappropriate Language: None Substance Abuse: Underage drinking Other Issues: Child brides, polygamy, pregnancy in a young girl and her giving birth
Date published: 2012-04-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 4/5 Reviews can be found at http://readingbetweenclasses.blogspot.ca/ Cover Impressions: At first glance, this cover falls into the category of "pretty girl in a pretty dress". However, upon closer inspection there are several elements that tell a lot about the story. These elements are tied together by lines and circles, the reader is enticed to follow. I am a big fan of covers that beg re-examination and allow for exclamations of "Oh!" as the text and the cover begin to meld together in a wonderful stew of symbolism. The Gist: Rhine Ellery's life is ebbing away. She knows that, like all young women born of her generation, she will die at the age of 20. No longer believing in the possibility of a miracle cure, she was content to live out her days struggling for survival with her brother, Rowan. However, the Gatherers had different plans. They swept her off the streets of New York and put her on display as a child bride for the wounded Linden. Now, surrounded by wealth and opulence, Rhine sees the damage and decay beneath the beautiful facade and begins her fight to escape and to live the meager years she has left, as she chooses. Review: On the surface, it appears that Rhine has found paradise. A sprawling mansion, a gentle and caring husband and fellow wives whom she grows to love as sisters. However, this world is based on an illusion, nothing on the surface is real and it is only when one ventures below that they finally see the sharks that have been circling their legs the entire time. Rhine must decide whether it is better to live (and die) in a beautiful illusion or to risk her life escaping to a world that is harsh and cruel, but real. Destefano does not allow for one dimensional characters and presents each of her creations as a unique individual with motivations and desires that are the reader can understand, even if we don't necessarily agree with them. Vaughn, in particular, is an incredible villain. He is singularly focused and willing to sacrifice anyone in order to further his cause. His every word is cold, calculating and dripping with double meanings. But, even in such a cruel an cunning man, we are able to see his motivation and to question what levels we might stoop to in the hopes of finding a cure. In Wither the plot does not explode like a firework but rather unfurls slowly but steadily, enveloping the reader and investing them in the lives of each character. Unfortunately, there is a lack of tension that tempers the excitement level. I adore books that leave the reader holding their breath, willing for fate to step in an ensure success for our heroine, this was not one of those books. There was simply not a strong enough sense of danger to make me actually fear for Rhine's life. This book is a strong opening to the trilogy. I look forward to seeing what other horrors this world holds. Teaching/Parental Notes: Age: 15 and up Gender: Female Sex: Spoken about but not described. Violence: Kidnapping, poisoning? Inappropriate Language: None Substance Abuse: Underage drinking Other Issues: Child brides, polygamy, pregnancy in a young girl and her giving birth
Date published: 2012-04-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from This world is so bleak and depressing! In Rhine's world society has been plagued with a deadly virus that kills women at the age of twenty years old, and women at the age of twenty-five. The population has decreased so much that teenage girls are taken at will by Gatherers to be sold to men who will take in a polygamous marriage. Rhine is one of these wives, a sister wife to Cecily and Jenna. Blond, and beautiful her eyes marked with one brown eye and one blue eye, she struggles to keep herself alive and sane while she is held prisoner at the mansion. She befriends a servant boy named Gabriel and together they plot to escape. This world is so bleak and depressing! Imagine no cure for a virus that automatically kills you! To have strength as Rhine does makes up for most of this slow paced novel. The relationships between the sister wives were just beautiful and it felt real. All of them being imprisoned in such a place where the rest of the world is bleak and hungry made their situation less frightening. I completely adore Rhine's strength of character. Her strong will to get out and find her brother is what moved the story along. The writing is beautiful and Lauren DeStefano is a great writer. I look forward to reading Fever. Rating 3/5 Quotes "Love is natural. Even the human race can't claim to be natural anymore."—Rhine (119)
Date published: 2012-03-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An intense dystopian with serious ethical conundrums that make you think. In anticipation for book two, entitled Fever, I picked this one up to see what it was all about. I’m a sucker for pretty covers, and Wither’s cover composition is amazing! The model, dress and bird all make for a striking cover on its own, but it’s the subtle circles that link the head, wedding band clad hand (say that fast 5 times) and caged bird that pull together the theme of forced and trapped marriage. The story immediately starts with a bang, it throws you into a claustrophobic panic as we are introduced to Rhine who has been kidnapped along with a group of other girls to be sold off as brides to be baby making factories for the rich in order to try and save the dying human race. It’s a tense situation as selections are made, and the fates of the girls are decided. After the initial bustle of being kidnapped and sorted, we are introduced to Housemaster Vaughn - a scientist working on the cure for the virus and father to Linden Ashby who is the husband to be for Rhine, along with her impending “sister wives” Cecily and Jenna. After the marriage, the plot slows down and takes it’s time to explain the back story of Rhine and how she is coping with her new life, her interactions with the other wives, and what her plan is to get out before she spends the rest of her short life in a lavish mansion. Point is - the plot tends to linger here for awhile. Although this really reflects how little there was in the way of entertainment and freedoms for these girls in this marriage. We as the reader’s don’t get to see much outside of the gates of the estate, but the scenic areas we are exposed to are very poignant places. It does pick up after awhile and for the last leg of the story - once all the pieces have a solid foundation to work from, I couldn’t stop reading until I found out what happened next. Rhine is resourceful and very tact which serves her extremely well in the mansion in order to survive. I have to say I love how complex the character Linden is, on one hand he’s a creep for participating in these marriages (especially the consummating parts… read it, you’ll see what I mean), but the way he acts toward Rhine is completely different and they seem to be building a really meaningful relationship where he isn’t a villain at all. In fact at some points I was rooting for him. The dynamic nature of the wives kept things interesting in the household, each one had their own persona and purpose that fit into a specific role in the polygamous relationship. Housemaster Vaughn is an intriguing character, he’s that guy that immediately gives you the heebie-geevies (literally my skin crawled during every scene with him) because you just know there’s something off about him. My only real complaint is with the servant Gabriel who Rhine gets close to, and is supposed to be a love interest. There’s something there, but Gabriel just seemed like such a wooden character (likely due to his role as a servant) that their relationship doesn’t quite get to form. Overall, I enjoyed this book and I think most people will. I’m really looking forward Fever and seeing where Rhine’s story goes.
Date published: 2012-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow I was really impressed with this book. i really want to read the second one so badly
Date published: 2012-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favourite dystopian novel! I didn’t want it to end! It was *that* good!! Wither has become my favourite dystopian novel. This book is a good lesson to show what can happen when scientists and geneticists try to play God: Their attempts to create a superior, disease-free race backfires when the offspring of the genetically modified individuals die prematurely, at the age of 20 years for females and 25 years for males. The first generation is determined to find a cure for the virus before the entire population is wiped out. To do so, they need more test subjects. Polygamy becomes the norm, and young girls of child-bearing age are snatched up by “Gatherers,” who round the girls up to be brides for the sons of the first generation. The girls are expected to have as many children as they can to ensure the future survival of the human race. Even if a cure is not found before the brides die, their children will be studied and tested in an effort to find the antidote. Rhine, a 16 year-old teenager, is one of the unlucky brides who have been abducted by the Gatherers. She, along with two other girls (13 year-old Cecily and 18 year-old Jenna), are brought to the estate of wealthy Housemaster Vaughn. The young ladies are to be the sister brides of Vaughn’s son, 21 year old Linden, whose first wife, 20 year-old Rose, is on her deathbed. Rhine realizes that the success of her intended escape depends on her ability to gain the trust of her husband and his domineering father. She must pretend to be enamoured by her husband and complacent with her lifestyle in the lap of luxury if she has any chance at all to flee. She will stop at nothing to find her way back to her twin brother, Rowan, the only family that she has left since their parents died. Rhine finds an unlikely ally in Gabriel, who is a servant in the mansion. I loved, loved, loved Wither! I found this to be a very dark and emotional read, because DeStefano touches on so many moral and ethical issues in the world that she has created: Genetic manipulation, polygamy, murder, kidnapping, teenage pregnancy, abuse. These are very mature topics for a YA novel. Vaughn was the perfect villain. Although DeStefano tries to create sympathy towards Linden by painting him as a victim of his father’s machinations, I could not think of him as anything but a randy young man who revelled in bedding multiple wives! I was particularly bothered by his sexual relationship with 13 year-old Cecily. That’s just...wrong. I found him nearly as loathsome as his father. Rhine is an intelligent, thoughtful, and gutsy young lady who knew that she had to play the game to get what she wanted. At times, I do not know how she managed to keep up the act of devoted wife. Her strength and determination are admirable qualities. And who could not help but love Gabriel? His innocence was heart-breaking, as well as his unswerving servitude to his masters. His moments with Rhine were so sweet, but I wanted more! The gorgeous cover depicting Rhine as the bird in the gilded cage was perfect. My fingers could not flip the pages of this book fast enough, and I reached the end to pause and reflect only for a moment before I dove into the next in the series, Fever. MY RATING: 5 stars!! It was superb! I loved it, and I will likely re-read it again in the future! You should definitely read it!
Date published: 2012-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from omg i loved it well i am gonna start of by saying that i picked up this book about 5 times before i bought it beacuse i did not think i was gonna like it at all but i must say that i 100 percent loved it it was one of the best books in a long time that i have read that was not part of the supernatural wolrd and i just bought the sec book tonight and i am gonna start it right now hehe i loved how it started with a bunch of girl traped in a van and then 3 were picked then they were forse to merry lienden i could not spell his name lol anyways and to find out that he was not the bad guy and she started to have feelings for him a little bit and how she loved her sisters wifes one more then the other and then there is gabriel who she is in love with but has not said it yet but we will find out in book 2 of fever give it 10 thumbs up
Date published: 2012-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A unique dystopian - a great read! As part of my book buying ban of late December (i.e. We’re traveling, I should save money for traveling, instead of buying books), I found myself in Wal-Mart staring at their selection of books. Being that it was around the holidays, I had frequenting the store often, always finding myself staring at the same selection of books, over and over. But this day was different. This was the day I saw Wither, a book that was on my wish list, gracing the shelves! Naturally, I had to buy it, take it home, and read it immediately (ignoring the oh-so-many books on my TBR … uh … bookcase(s)). I’m going to say this first, that after I finished reading the book, I immediately flocked to Goodreads to read some reviews, to see what other people had to say about it because I absolutely loved it and I was taken aback by how many people were caught up in the SCIENCE of it all. What? Call me ignorant, but as I read the book and learned how scientists have genetically engineered people so much that now males die at 25 and females at 20, I thought nothing of it. Actually, that’s not true, I thought how COOL it was to have something different! I didn’t analyze the explanations for this future dystopian world that DeStefano laid out for me. Instead, I took in the fiction of it all and found myself completely absorbed in this crazy book where females were sold for marriage, not to be the sole bride of their captor, but instead live in a polygamous marriage for the end of their (short) life. Am I wrong to have enjoyed such a book and NOT analyze it completely? I don’t think so. In fact, I’ve seen movies with people who are constantly ripping apart the film saying, “Oh, this wouldn’t happen,” or, “This isn’t believable!” Of course not! It’s FICTION! I enjoyed it and that’s enough for me. I was completely transfixed of the story of Rhine as she’s waiting, basically, for her life to end. I can’t even imagine what that would be like, to have your life calculated to the year, knowing exactly when you’re going to leave this earth. Of course, with the end of Wither, the reader is not left without Rhine. Instead, the book is set up for a sequel, which–at least to me–is awesome because I need to get more of the action! I really look forward to reading the next book in this series. I feel that Lauren DeStefano has a winner on her hands and I have my fingers crossed that her books to come are winners, too.
Date published: 2012-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favorite book since The Maze Runner I got completely lost in Rhine's world and I didn't want to leave it. Every character was well developed and completely understandable, I found myself forgetting that this world wasn't real, it was like I was reading a journal instead of a fictional novel. It was like a less boy oriented maze runner.
Date published: 2012-01-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting I've seen a lot of love for Wither, as well as its sequel Fever, so I was eager to finally read it and hopefully love it too. It was certainly interesting and raised some serious questions, but I didn't love it as much as I'd wanted too. I did like it a lot though, and I'll be reading Fever soon! What I liked The science Besides the little blip that is dramatically shortened lives (pshh), the science in Wither seemed very advanced. Cancer and other diseases are things of the past, and test tube babies are the norm. It's become abnormal for a parent not to pick traits for their children. Rhine herself is considered special because she has two different coloured eyes--a genetic anomaly. Of course, as people like Vaughn work to find a cure, it also means more babies are needed, which means more kidnapped girls--a vicious circle, and is it even true? Is there hope for the world or should they just give up? I liked that there were so many morally ambiguous questions to ask myself. The sister wives Cecily, Jenna and Rhine are three unique individuals, with different views of the world. Cecily's excitement about becoming a wife, Jenna's aloofness, and Rhine's sweet shyness all affect how they interact with the people in the mansion and each other. Seeing them bond as they deal with the cards they've been dealt was heartwarming. I particularly had a soft spot for Jenna, especially when I found out why she acts like a 'dead fish', and while it's definitely sad, I couldn't help but feel relieved when she finally got what she had yearned for from the start. The writing The writing of Wither is beautiful. It flows and makes me want to grab a pen and paper similar to books like Shatter Me or Sarah Dessen's novels. It's descriptive but still conveys the sense of being trapped. Yes the fireplace is crackling away and the garden is green and lush, but that fire is nothing but a hologram and the shrubbery are there to hide the metal fence surrounding the mansion. One line I remember clearly was about how Rhine's favourite season was fall; as if nature was giving its last burst of beauty before dying away. I thought it was so lovely. Not so much.. The writing For me the writing was a double edged sword. Yes it was beautiful, but Rhine's narration also kept me behind a wall of sorts. She didn't liked the situation she was in and wanted to close herself off, but I think this aspect came across too much in the writing. It felt impersonal and detached and as a result, I couldn't really connect with Rhine, though she certainly would be a sympathetic character anyway. The boys Not that I didn't not like Linden and Gabriel, but I didn't find myself liking them either. Linden was certainly sweet and incredibly innocent (but not that innocent), but he was also clueless. Clueless about his father and his situation, even about his wives. Almost in a daze, he simply traipsed along. He was just as trapped as his wives. There wasn't much there to attract me. Gabriel had a bit more substance because he, like Rhine, knew of the dangers of the mansion, but I didn't really understand what drew Rhine to him. Their relationship seemed one dimensional. I think that Rhine didn't try to get close to Linden because she was being forced to. Gabriel, instead, was forbidden and she was intrigued. I needed more sparks because I wasn't getting them. Bottom Line Wither is a beautiful book, but I felt distant when reading it. The characters are kept sheltered and closed off, and I loved the bond that formed between the sister wives as a result. Linden seemed like a pretty nice husband, but his non-chalance at the whole situation, how he was in his own world, didn't allow me to get to know him as much as I wanted. Gabriel, and even Vaughn, didn't feel fleshed out enough for me to really like or fear them. At the end of Wither, there are two things: fire and snow. I want more fire and excitement in book 2. And after winter comes spring, and I want to see blossoming of the characters so I can get a better picture of them. I want more: more passion, more fear, more fighting, more feeling. Hope Fever will do it for me.
Date published: 2012-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely lovely I thought this novel was amazing. the story was very interesting, i coulfnt put it down, cannot wait for the second installment! :) Id defintiely recommend this book!
Date published: 2011-11-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great new dystopian read! I loved this story. I’ve realized recently that I’m becoming a fan of dystopian stories, which I’ve never read until now. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that there are so many of them coming out right now, but either way, I’m quickly becoming addicted. WITHER is a great story about Rhine, a 16-year-old girl who is abducted and taken to a grand estate to be the bride of some rich, young man. While here, she experiences sister wives, attendants, domestics, a comfortable room, a life free of danger and a man who loves her. But all she can think is: I need to get out. And I don’t blame her. Aside from the close bonds she forms with Jenna, one of her sister wives, and Gabriel, an attendant she becomes attracted to, Rhine can only think about her twin brother who is now alone and probably heartbroken without her. Lauren’s writing is magical. She knows just the right words to use to make me feel everything Rhine feels. The emotions were portrayed amazingly. I could never imagine being in any position like Rhine's, but I could sympathize with her because of the way Lauren wrote. She made me feel like I was there with Rhine the whole time - that whatever Rhine went through, I went through it, too. And it hurt to watch poor Rhine cry through the night or stand in front of her father-in-law in fear, knowing I couldn’t do anything to help her! When those emotions are pulled out of me when reading a book, I know that the author is an amazing writer. The whole concept of the story was great. I loved the way Lauren didn’t feel the need to take the first hundred pages explaining the world. Slowly, but surely, we learned about Rhine’s world and how things worked there. There were also a couple flashbacks so we could see the way Rhine and her brother Rowan were living before she was swept up by the Gatherers. I prefer this way of learning about the dystopian world because it doesn’t make the beginning drag and it prevents a lot of information from being thrown at you all at once, which can be overwhelming and also boring. If I didn’t love a character in this book, then I hated them with as much passion. There were not many characters who were just kind of there and didn’t make me feel for them in any way. They all felt like real people to me. The one character who I couldn’t decide whether to love or hate was Linden, Rhine’s husband. I really wanted to hate him because it was his fault Rhine was stuck in that estate in the first place, but he didn’t make it easy. He was such a sweet, fragile young man, and as you learn later on… well you’ll have to read it yourself if you want to know why it’s hard to hate Linden Ashby. Even Rhine found it hard to hate him eventually... Ok, I need to talk about Gabriel. I really liked him as a love interest for Rhine. The weird thing is that he wasn’t actually in a lot of the book as a character, but he was very often there as an idea or a thought. Let me explain. Even though Rhine and Gabriel didn’t interact a lot, Rhine thought of him often. For example, if she didn’t see him for a while, she worried about him. There were always occasions where Rhine was thinking about Gabriel even though he wasn’t around her very much. I think that’s what made me like them together so much: the fact that he was sort of a light in this dark place for her. I really hope their relationship grows in the next book. I was happy with the way this book ended. I am so ready for the next book to come out, although I can’t find any information about it anywhere. Even though I finished this book over a week ago, I still find myself thinking about it and what is going to happen next. What if he...? Will she...? Does he...? So many questions that I can’t finish because I want to avoid spoiling it for you all! Seriously, if you’re into any kind of dystopians that also include romance, pick this one up when it comes out next Tuesday. You don’t want to miss it.
Date published: 2011-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unique Dystopian Novel This book was different from other dystopian novels I've read, and I liked that. The world that Rhine lives in is unique. Instead of the usual overpowering too controlling government ruining society, a virus instead controls the way the world and its people live. This book ends well - I personally thought that the series could have ended with just this one book, with the reader still wondering/guessing what happens next. However, there are questions you are left with, and for that I'm glad this will be a trilogy. This is a very addictive story - I found it hard to put down this book, and found myself thinking about it long after I finished. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves dystopian stories.
Date published: 2011-08-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Meh DeStefano definitely had a good imagination while writing this story. It is well-written and the image of this future world is very well-described. the problem with this book is that there just felt like there was something... missing. There are too many flashbacks that don't hold enough emotion to be important to me, and there's just a little bit too much description and not enough interation at points. There were many points that you feel like just skimming or dropping the book. Near the end it unfortunately becomes a little predictable, but since this apparently going to be a trilogy, I'm hoping that the next book will hold more of a suspenseful story that this one :)
Date published: 2011-07-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Just Beautiful! Overall a great book with a unique concept. The writing is just beautiful and that alone is almost enough to warrant a great rating. But the story is enticing too - it's different and gripping and you care for the characters in a way you might not have thought possible when you first start reading the book. I had no idea that this was part of a trilogy - can't wait to read the sequel and find out the rest of Rhine's story!
Date published: 2011-07-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Just okay. Dystopian novels are my favorite. Without a doubt. But this one fell a little short for me. I don't know if it was because the setting inside the mansion was so limited or if it was the overall concept, but it lacked something. Normally I'm over the moon with each dystopia I read, but not with this one. And it's a shame because the cover is eye-catching, and her writing style is good. I think this author just needs to think on a bigger scale.
Date published: 2011-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beauty in the Orange Groves When I first heard about this book, I had my doubts. Although I loved dystopian books, the plot didn’t sound that interesting to me. It was getting some buzz and I figured I should give it a try. I am so glad I did. From the moment I flipped open the cover I was hooked. Addicted, you could say. I literally read the book until the wee hours of the morning, fell asleep and had a dream about me being the fourth wife of Linden, woke up, grabbed Wither off my bedside table and read it until I was done. It was just that good. Wither is not a typical dystopian novel. Instead of focusing on a new society, and how the characters have to fight to survive in a destroyed world, it focuses on the people. The story is almost set apart from the dystopian world which really gives way to focus on the characters. The three wives, Cecily, Jenna and the protagonist Rhine each have their own distinct personalities and each have their own way of handling the situation they’re in. Just when I want to slap Cecily across the face for being (in my opinion) idiotic she does or says something that breaks my heart. She’s a lost little girl, who craves love and acceptance more than anything. Jenna angered me sometimes, but I also admire her decisions and her will to live on her own terms. Rhine was defiant in her own way, but sometimes I just wanted her to stand up and scream at the injustice of her situation, but she stayed smart and learned to work with her situation. I often think the sign of a good book is one that makes me highly emotional and Wither most definitely did that. I was so angry at the situation that the beautiful Rhine found herself in, saddened that the world had become such a horrific place, and warmed by the budding romance and quiet defiance underneath it all. My emotions were completely muddled as well when it came to Linden, Rhine's husband. A part of me hated him, a part felt pity for him and a part liked him. I don’t think he is a bad person, just ignorant. I honestly wanted to hate him, but I simply found it impossible. The plot itself wasn't action-packed or intense, but instead captivating and mysterious. There wasn’t a moment where I thought about putting it down. I had to unravel the story; I had to see what would happen next. And the writing! I thought Lauren DeStefano's writing style was beautiful. I find that in a lot of YA books nowadays, the writing style doesn’t stick out. That’s not saying that they aren’t good, but sometimes there are those authors that are just a head above, and Lauren DeStefano is one of them. Although I did enjoy the story, the writing made this book what it is: amazing. DeStefano has a poetic edge to her stories, and the words just flow across the page. I got caught up in the tide of it, and let the words sweep me away into a story of deep despair and filled with hope. If you haven’t read this book yet, go do it. Without a doubt one of my favourite dystopian books, and DeStefano has shot to the top of my favourite authors list. Originally posted at http://www.lostatmidnightreviews.blogspot.com/
Date published: 2011-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gorgeous and Completely Mesmerizing! Let me tell you that I had very high expectations when I began this book, but as I was reading it, I was definitely not expecting what DeStefano had in store for her readers. This story was absolutely GORGEOUS! I've never used that word to describe a book, but Wither was just a breathtaking and beautiful book. There was something about the way she wrote that is so hard to explain. Wither takes place in a world that becomes more vivid as you read on, and I was completely wrapped up in this jaw dropping book! This book takes the word dystopian and takes it to a WHOLE new level. There were times where I was close to crying, and I had moments where my heart ached for the characters. I cannot explain the experience Wither unfolds for you, it's just indescribable. The atmosphere becomes so real, that I started to feel like I was succumbed within this story with the characters. I loved the main character, and I just LOVED this whole book. Let me just say that the cover truly reveals the magic, beauty, tragedy and depth that Wither has within. Thanks to modern science, every single baby born will grow up knowing when they will die. They all have a virus that doesn't start taking effect at a certain age; girls die at the age of twenty and males die at the age of twenty-five. It's a horribly depressing reality where girls are made into sister wives in order to keep up with the population. Orphans fill the streets and poverty has taken it's toll, and people are out there trying to discover a cure, but until then, girls like Rhine are given no choice. Rhine is sixteen years old and no longer has parents, she only has her twin brother. Together, they do what they can to hide Rhine and keep her from being taken away. However, one day, Rhine is kidnapped. Once these girls are taken, they are place in front of a man, where he will choose the girls he would like to marry. This process is a double edged sword because girls who are chosen a forced to marriage, and girls who are not chosen are killed. Rhine, along with two other girls are chosen by a man named Linden. Rhine wakes up dozed and realizes that she is in a mansion where she will stay until the day she dies. She will be married to Linden until the day she dies, and she has no way to control that. However, she makes a promise to herself that she won't give up and she will escape. However, first she will need to gain the trust of Linden in order to do so. This is Rhine's story, and we follow her as she lives in this horrible mansion that may seem beautiful, but there's more that meets the eye. DeStefano creates such raw moments and great characters to tie this book together. I was transfixed in the mesmerizing story. Wither is one of a kind, and it will have you at a loss for words as Rhine's story plays out like a scene right in front of your eyes. 5/5 2011-018
Date published: 2011-06-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Much Different Dystopia With the growth in The Hunger Games, dystopian-based novels are becoming the new thing. I couldn't see how a romance novel evolve in a dystopian world, but it did. I quite enjoy this mixture though and I can't seem to find enough. I never understood the concept of sister wives. "Wither" makes the concept seem easier to understand, but it's not like that in reality. The idea of having a life limit is quite interesting, it gives society a purpose. Although, their idea to fix the problem is quite cruel, to both genders. Personally, I liked all the characters, even little Cecily except her character is quite stereotypical. If she wasn't the first one to get pregnant though, that would have changed my thoughts about her completely. And if she'd lay back on the family matters would be better too. I like Rhine, her personality and her bond with her brother and fellow characters in the book. I wished there were some real scenes with her brother insteand of memories, but Gabriel filled up those wants. Linden on the other hand, was a different story. I can understand why he acts the way he does. His first love just died, but sometimes he creeps me out. And, I wonder at times if he truly does love Rhine, or is it her uncanny similarities with Rose? I wish there was more interaction between them to help me with my thoughts. I was hoping for a letter Rhine would leave behind apologizing to Linden because it might give me a hint at least if he would be in the sequel. Which I'm hoping for. I want to see how the manor reacts with Rhine's disappearance and what they will do.
Date published: 2011-05-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thought Provoking Dystopian Novel It is difficult and a little intimidating to review a book that you've heard a lot about, especially a lot of good things. I did enjoy reading this book, but not as much as many of the other reviewers. The book was largely in Rhine's head, with her thinking of escape plans, figuring out the world she now found herself in, and coming to terms with her feelings. Because she has to be so secretive, she does not talk to many people. It was interesting to watch Rhine grow and gain understanding and even wavering, while remaining single minded in her bid for freedom. Lauren DeStefano also wrote some beautiful, vivid descriptions of the world, some horrifying in their scope. For me, however, Wither got a little repetitive. There were some thoughts and ideas that were stated over and over, for example, that Rhine's different eyes had saved her life. There were similar things with her thoughts of her brother and her past life, as well as Rhine's feelings about her current life. It made it feel as if the story were not progressing very fast at times. I also wanted to know more about the world and how it had decayed to the state it was in- a lot was supplied was implied - and found I had a lot of questions . How did the gatherers (those who stole the girls) become OK, was there no higher authority? Why, if girls were so important for reproduction, hadn't they become a valuable commodity who were paid for handsomely and honoured rather than being cheap and disposable? Wouldn't teenagers become valuable as caregivers for babies who had been orphaned? How did the economy run at all? What was interesting in Wither is the number of questions it brings up and I can envision some great book club meetings or essays being written on these topics. The big one is freedom vs slavery, especially a hard free live vs luxurious slavery: Rhine's life before she was kidnapped was brutally hard and dangerous, with the threat of kidnapping, people breaking into her house, unemployment, poor quality food, desperate orphans stealing food, but she was free. After she was kidnapped, Rhine had a life of luxury with servants, beautiful clothes, excellent food, and going to parties, but she was not free. A vivid dichotomy was set up here. Another question is should humans interfere anymore genetically or let the human race die out? This gets into more questions about bio-engineering, in general. There is also polygamous marriage and duty and even arranged marriage. I'm sure there are other themes as well, but these are the obvious ones. Overall, I did like Wither, but found it frustrating at the same time. It will be interesting to see where Lauren DeStefano takes this story in the next book.
Date published: 2011-05-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dystopian future are the future of teen! Men die at 25 and women die at 20. This is what genetic tampering has brought us to in Wither by Lauren DeStefano. Young women are brought up to become wives to young men and expected to produce children in the hopes of finding a cure to the virus that is killing them all. This is definitely a set up book to the 3 book series as the action is a little slow but I am waiting with bated breath for the next ones.
Date published: 2011-04-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I'm all by myself with this one There was so much hype on twitter and other blogs about how amazing this book was so MAYBE that had me jaded from the start. I'm not saying that this book wasn't good, but the way others were on about it I was expecting a bit more. I will, however, read the other books in this series as I don't want to give up hope that I will get caught up in this world.
Date published: 2011-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read When I first started this book, I thought it was pretty interesting of the authors world in this book. It gave us what the future can be like when death for males is at 25 and females at 20. I thoroughly loved the book and cant wait until the next chapter of Rhines life. I loved her relationship with Gabriel and that it would lead to opportunities for their future even if she didnt love her husband Linden. I felt compassionate for the characters because of how young they are and how they have to become adults at such a young age. It had a great plot lines and different twists of life. We can expect great things from this author. I read this on KOBO and I thought it was also well written. I highly recommend this book to whoever is in need to explore a new reality that could become of the human race. Its hypothetical but it can also make you cry in some parts. 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?
Date published: 2011-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Epic Review First Published at http://unautrehistoire.blogspot.com/ I was ecstatic when I received an ARC of Wither by Lauren DeStefano from Simon and Schuster Canada. I had been coveting this book for a while and wasn’t sure if I could wait till release day (March 22nd 2011). Generally I don’t like dystopian novels. There is something terribly hopeless about them, very rarely is there a happy ending. Granted when I think of dystopian novels I think A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and 1984 by George Orwell. Wither is the first Young Adult dystopian that I’ve read, and I totally loved it! I am still in awe of how amazing this book. I was little nervous to start reading this. The cover is gorgeous, really beautiful and the synopsis totally intrigued me. I was however a little scared it was going to be a little to Flowers in the Attic for me, and I am not a fan of VC Andrews. So Wither sat on my shelf for a couple weeks looking pretty. I did not get into the story right away. I don’t know that it’s because it was slow in the beginning or if I was still under the impression that dystopian novels mean a great deal of sadness that are supposed to teach me a moral lesson that I never seem to understand. But for whatever reason it took me about 50 pages to be fully engrossed in the story, but after that I could not put the book down, not until I was done. DeStafano is an amazing writer. I don’t say that lightly. Wither is her first novel to be published and the writing is flawless. The story ran smoothly, there were no bumps or plot holes, events and situations tied together beautifully. The writing was authentic and real. What really amazed me about Wither was how I forgot I was reading a YA novel. Because of the state of the world, men die at 25 and women at 20, kids are forced to grow up quickly, so all the characters in this story have an air of maturity about them. Rhine the female protagonist is a lovely character. She is strong and determined to get free of this marriage she was forced into. She will do whatever it takes to get free. She is not heartless though, and finds herself starting to care for her sister wives and even her husband Linden. Linden is portrayed as this weak man who is so naive it’s painful. He comes off needy and dependent. I wonder if we will see that change in future books. Linden’s character grows and develops more personality through the novel, due mostly to the attention Rhine gives him in an attempt to become first wife and earn his trust. Of the two sister wives, Jenna and Cecily, Cecily is my favourite, she’s a child bride and the most eager of the three for their husband’s attention. Rhine’s “love interest” Gabriel was a little underdeveloped. I liked him and I liked the interactions between him and Rhine, however I think that he was a bit stale. We did not see much of him and when he disappeared halfway through the book I did not feel that him being gone took away from the story (I did not want him to be hurt or dead) I guess I just did not believe that there really was any romance between him and Rhine. We should be seeing more of him in books to come so maybe he’ll grow on me. I really enjoyed reading this book and when I was done I was really eager to know what was going to happen to all the characters. I look forward to the sequels.
Date published: 2011-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dreaming of Books Review (May contain spoilers) I got this book back in January and I did put off reading it for a while because of what the story was about and the things that were in the story--namely polygamy and young child brides. I didn’t know how I would feel about it, if I would be comfortable with it or if it would put me off. Fears aside, Wither was so amazing. It had a little bit of what I was afraid of but a lot of the good stuff that kept me captivated, intrigued and wanting more. The characters drive the story. Each of the three wives have their own ways to adapt in their new situation. The main character Rhine has been taken away from her home, her twin brother and is desperate to get back. She’s forced into a polygamous marriage and trapped in a beautiful mansion, is given every comfort but never wavers in her resolve to escape and to be free. Her two sister-wives are also in the same predicament but have different views on their marriage. Jenna hates it as much as Rhine but has resolved to the fact that she will live out the rest of her days being trapped. Cecily the youngest of the three and the most naïve is thrilled to be the wife of a wealthy House Governor. As different as they are, the three of them form a tight bond with one another and is something no one else can come between. Their husband is Linden who’s twenty-one years old. He’s someone I really wanted to hate but the more I learned about him the more I felt sorry for him. Rhine learns about the sheltered he’s lived and that he doesn’t know much about the “real” world. In some ways he’s trapped as well, always under the watchful eye of his controlling father. Rhine is compassionate and learns to care for him but its not love. I finished the book a couple days ago and I’m still thinking/obsessing over it. I’m wondering when the second book is coming out, when there might be a summary for it and whether we’ll see some of these characters again. I do think that this book isn’t for everyone but if you go into it with an open mind you might come out completely surprised by what you’ll find.
Date published: 2011-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brutal Future World Where Life is a Ticking Time Bomb Reason for Reading: I love dystopian novels and this sounded fantastic. And fantastic it was! Absolutely fantastic! The first book in a trilogy hasn't excited me this much since The Hunger Games (not that this is anything like it). A brutal future world where an entire generation has been artificially conceived but they have cured disease, no more cancer, no more AIDS, no more heart disease. What this first generation didn't know, until 20 years later, though was that their own naturally conceived children were ticking time bombs. Females now only live until 20 years of age, and males to the ripe old age of 25 then they succumb to "the virus". For seventy years now the first generation, who also have conquered the rapidness of aging, have been trying to find a cure for their children but they have separated into two factions by this time: those who want to find a cure, and the pro-naturalists who say it's time to let nature take its course and want to stop the breeding of infants for the purpose of experimenting on them. It is in this world that Rhine is kidnapped along with a van full of other girls by a wealthy father looking for wives for his son. The son chooses three and they are forced to marry the 20yo and become his wives. In their captivity the sister wives, form a unique bond with each other. Each comes from a different background and situation, dealing with their kidnapping/captivity and forced marriage in different ways. Rhine is the only one with a will to escape. Wonderful. wonderful. wonderful. Right from the first chapter I was addicted to this story. It swept me up into a horrible possible future that is brutal and repugnant. The young either live in poverty as third generation orphans or as rich socialites in decadence with no moral values as life is literally too short to waste on virtues. The ethical questions give one much thought, especially about finding a cure vs. experiments on babies or the question of how terrible is it to kidnap street women and starving orphans so they live the rest of a short life in opulence versus leaving their freedom behind? My enjoyment of a dystopian novel always hinges on whether I believe the major situation is possible. While I don't believe that our current society is headed towards perfecting a genetically altered artificially conceived disease free generation. I do, however, believe the current dwindling replacement population crises will have many profound repercussions on the future generations even if something is done immediately, which is hardly likely. Women are already kidnapped for use in prostitution in today's world, it is hardly unrealistic to think they would be kidnapped for use as wives and breeders by the wealthy in this futuristic world with no religion or moral values. DeStephano has created a fascinating concept with many layers, and even added a tiny touch of romance. This is a riveting book and I can hardly wait for the next book in the trilogy to be published.
Date published: 2011-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Dystopian Novel Not To Be Missed! Lauren DeStefano's debut novel Wither is a stunner, one which utterly fascinated me from the very first page. Everything from the idea of men living only to the age of twenty-five while women lived until they're twenty because of the failures of medicine... to the idea of polygamous marriages in the hopes of re-populating the quickly withering away population is in itself so horrifying, yet just so compelling and enthralling to read! I read the novel in one sitting, eagerly flipping the pages and lost in Rhine's story as she faced what could only be her worst nightmare, captured by the Gatherers and sold into a polygamous marriage with two other teenage girls, Cecily and Jenna, who would become her sister wives. While her new husband, Linden, doesn't turn out to be quite the villain we would all suspect him to be and her new home has more luxuries than she could have dreamed... it is still not the life she has chosen. Rhine would do anything to return home to be with her twin brother, Rowen, but as time passes and she becomes more accustomed to her new life, the chance of ever escaping seems to be dwindling... especially when the feared Housemaster Vaughn, Linden's father, suspects she's up to something... Each character in the novel is very much unique, bringing their own back-stories to the novel in such an important way as the roles of the characters and the way their personalities evolved throughout were so central to this novel. Much of the events in Wither occur within the mansion that belongs to Linden and his father, so much of this novel is essentially character driven rather than filled with tons of action-packed moments. While it does mean that the pacing may be considered slow to some... it was world-building to me. You're brought up to pace with the events that have shaped the future in such drastic, awful ways that I was grateful to not be suddenly flooded with information. Your heart will instantly reach out Rhine and her desperate plight. She's trapped in her new situation but instead of simply giving up like most girls certainly would, she just puts her game face on. She was strong and intelligent, realizing there would be no point in acting out as it would get her nowhere; her only chance of freedom would be to pretend grow closer to Linden to earn more privileges. I only considered the short time span it took her to become attached to Gabriel, a servant in the household, as her only slight weakness as it seemed rather quick after a few interactions. But then again, he was just as helpless as her to do anything, so it's not really hard to see how they could connect so well. As for Rhine's sister wives, both of whom she becomes close companions with during the novel, they provided nice contrasting views of the marriage they've been forced into. The younger Cecily was naive and eager to be a good wife to Linden, whereas the older Jenna was hardened from everything she'd experienced but she's also resigned to her fate. I could probably continue to gush about the amazingness that is Wither... from the perfection of its gorgeous cover to the beautiful, dark story that Lauren DeStefano seems to weave so effortlessly. But you know what? I think I'll take a step back now and let you discover all the wonders of this haunting tale for yourself. Wither will be officially in stores tomorrow and is most certainly not a dystopian novel to be missed! I'm already eagerly anticipating the second novel in The Chemical Garden trilogy! You can also read this review at: http://midnightbloomreads.blogspot.com/2011/03/wither-by-lauren-destefano.html
Date published: 2011-03-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wither is a Winner! I am a fortunate recipient of an advance reader’s copy of debut novelist Lauren DeStefano’s The Chemical Garden Trilogy: Wither, published by Simon & Schuster. Wither is the first piece of this dystopian puzzle and although it is recommended for ages 14+, I was charmed by it and could not put it down. Wither is a refreshing, unique and dazzling story (despite comparisons made to The Handmaid’s Tale), filled with compelling characters that leap off the page. While it does raise a few questions, I chose not to analyze the life out of it and just enjoyed it for the pleasurable fantasy read that it is. I can already completely envision the movie version and don’t think I’m remiss in saying that fans of the Twilight series will undoubtedly enjoy this too. In the not-too-distant future, Earth has almost been entirely obliterated by a viral plague created through genetic engineering that has wiped out every continent except for North America. In this nightmare, males only live to be 25-years-old and females only live to age 20, raising the questions, “What if you knew when you were going to die?” How would you choose to live your life? Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is a beautiful, intelligent orphan with hemochromatic eyes (one brown, one blue) who has been kidnapped by “Gatherers” and sold at auction as a bride to a rich governor. She is torn away from the only life she knows in an almost unrecognizable Manhattan where her twin brother Rowan works in a factory to support them while it’s her job to keep their ramshackle home safe from looters. Rhine isn’t a special victim, but rather the norm, as there are few things left for young women in this new world to do but be sold into slavery to propagate the species. Only the beautiful are chosen as brides while the others become prostitutes or are murdered. Rhine finds herself living in a picturesque but sinister Florida mansion – decorated with holograms and steeped in illusion – and wedded to a naïve, young Governor Linden Ashby. Linden, a would-be architect, is mourning the impending death of his true love and first wife, Rose, while being completely controlled by his creepy, geneticist father, Housemaster Vaughn (a first generation who didn’t succumb to the plague), who lets everyone think he’s working on an antidote for the fatal disease. Rhine has two sister wives: (polygamy is also not unusual in this new world) 13-year-old Cecilia, a bratty redhead who was born in an orphanage and never knew her parents – so has little problem adjusting to life as a rich man’s child bride – and 18-year-old Jenna, a sad, introverted brunette whose sisters are murdered in the same van she was taken away in when she was captured. Rhine befriends Rose, who soon dies, and whose body is mysteriously transported to the basement, never to be given a proper funeral. Cecilia takes her place as Linden’s new lover, and before long becomes pregnant with his child. Jenna’s relationship with her husband is only sexual as she refuses to give him her heart, while Rhine rejects the consummation of her marriage and instead befriends a kind and empathetic servant named Gabriel whom she comes to trust. (It was a little hard to believe that she would have been able to continuously deny her husband who clearly had his way with the others.) On the outside, Rhine’s world is one of glamour, parties, growing friendships with her sister wives and an orange grove utopia, while the reality is one of ugly secrets, danger and the dance of the Grim Reaper. This first person narrative is thoughtfully conveyed in Rhine’s voice, with moral dilemmas always close to the surface, and her relationships with the other characters are as well developed and realistic as they can be in a science fiction setting. We know Rhine is biding her time by pretending to want to be Linden’s first wife until she can figure out a way to escape. We also know that there’s something inherently evil going on in the basement of the mansion and that although Vaughn is supposedly carrying out DNA experiments to find a cure, nothing is what it appears to be. We also know by the end of this page turner that we’re not going to get to know what happens to Rhine and Gabriel until the next edition of the trilogy. By then, you will be completely sucked into the story and will have to read the next book! And believe me, I will. Bravo Lauren DeStefano! You’re going to have a very successful writing career.
Date published: 2011-03-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lovely! First: When I opened the package from S&S I was in awe! This cover is amazing! A splash of horror, a pinch of sci-fi and a sprinkle of forbidden romance (my favorite) are all the ingredients used in Wither. In a world where girls die at the age of 20, and males at the age of 25, the population is deseperate to keep the human race going, even if that means participating in human trafficking. Rhine is taken from her twin Rowan, to become one of the 3 brides of Linden Ashby, a very shy but well mannered man. On the other hand, Linden's father, Vaughn is the complete opposite. He was the creepy, evil vilain that terrorized Rhine. And then came Gabriel, he was the wives' attendant but throughout the novel, him and Rhine began to form a connection. In the mansion, there are 3 wives, Rhine, Jenna and Cecily. Cecily is the youngest, eager to please her new husband and Jenna is just about the opposite. She is the eldest of the 3, meaning she is the closest to dying, but she also holds a personal vendetta against Linden. Rhine becomes close to her sister wives, but she never forgets her main goal: to escape and get back to Rowan. Once I started reading the book, I was pretty much hooked. Lauren Destefano's writing is pretty good and sometimes, even poetic. The story was dark and hopeless, but somehow, I found myself smirking at certain moments in the novel. Even though most of the characters are going to die in a few years, some sooner than others, I was very attatched to them. There was always that little voice in my head that said "well it doesn't really matter does it, Rhine is supposed to die in about 4 years." But the characters were very well written and pushed that little voice away from my mind. But although the characters were very well developped, I couldn't really picture them. I loved the story, but sometimes I questioned what was going on. There were certain holes in the story that kind of annoyed me since they pretty much could have solved the majority of Rhine's problems. The ending was also kind of pretty obvious. It all pretty much happened the way I excpected it to. Unfortunately, we didn't get to experience much of Rhine and Gabriel's relationship, his character was kind of weak in a sense that I could forget him at times. Throughout the novel, Rhine keeps expressing her thoughts about escaping and I kind of just wanted to scream at her "THEN DO IT RHINE!" Good gosh. But even though everything happened the way I excpected it to go, I was still rooting for Rhine and anxiously reading to find out what would happen next. Destefano's writing had my heart pounding at times because of the situations and decisions that Rhine had to face. To be honest, despite the many flways of this book, I loved it. It was somewhat of a mix of various YA books. Wither is definitely not to be missed! Even though Wither hasn't even be released, I am anxiosuly awaiting its sequel. I really do wonder where Destefano will take the next book! themoodyteenager.blogspot.com
Date published: 2011-03-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disturbing but well done Lauren DeStefano has created a terrifying world, where at 16 a girl is considered an old maid, and no one expects to live beyond 25. Can you begin to imagine the social, economical and political repercussions of such a dramatically shorter life span that suddenly plagues what is left of the world? It’s an interesting (albeit terrifying) idea, and I’m pretty fascinated by the parts of the book that describe life outside the mansion that is essentially Rhine’s prison. It seems like I’ve been reading a lot of books where characters are in cushy prisons, with all the luxuries except freedom. Is this a commentary on our lifestyles? Slaves to our work so we can be wealthy and have no time to enjoy it? Just a thought, not that I’m anywhere near approaching wealth. I hope the other two books in the Chemical Garden Trilogy explore more of the consequences the dwindling population would have. I began this story expecting to hate the man Rhine is forced to marry, and sure that the polygamy will make her experience as a reluctant bride even worse. Neither of these things ended up being true, DeStefano actually made Linden a surprisingly likeable character. He thoroughly flawed, but given his upbringing and circumstances a lot of his faults are understandable. He is shockingly gentle and patient, not the crude rapist I would have expected. His father is the one character who remains truly villainous in my eyes, but even his deplorable actions are working towards a goal he thinks is noble. I still think he is scum, but I like that he’s not just evil for the sake of evil as so many bad guys are in fiction. The relationships formed between Linden’s four wives are intricate and intriguing. Although there is some competition between them, I think there is significantly less may be expected in a polygamous family due to the fact that none of them had a choice about marrying him. They bond as prisoners, as roommates and through the shared attention of their husband. Rhine bonds with each of her sister wives in a different way, and DeStefano did such a good job with this family dynamic that I might actually read more books with polygamy, not something I’d ever expected to enjoy reading about. Rhine’s relationship with Gabriel is not as prominent in the plot as I anticipated. At first I was disappointed by this, but since neither is free to be themselves in the mansion, it makes sense that they would not have the opportunity to be together. I like that DeStefano didn’t take the easy way out, and make the captors more sloppy with security. This was an enjoyable read, and I would recommend it for dystopian fans but my recommendation comes with the disclaimer that it contains, disturbing subjects, mature themes, polygamy, and sexually active minors, so parental discretion is advised. originally posted at http://libraryya.wordpress.com after reading an ARC from the publisher
Date published: 2011-03-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great Dystopian Debut Well, as I peruse the pages of Goodreads and some of my favorite Book Review Blogs, I find there are plenty of mixed views toward Wither; many glowing and gushing, many harsh and some even bordering on a wee but nasty. While admittedly this is my first Dystopian YA reading experience, I was rather pleased and walked away from this adventure feeling thoroughly entertained. I believe that many readers will find DeStefano’s debut a well written, imaginative and thought provoking experience complete with entirely believable futuristic scenarios and an endearing cast of characters. Rhine is a courageous character whose morals and beliefs tell her that she must fight for her freedom. Yet, her intelligence tells her that she must endure, she must wait to take action when the time is right. And, amongst all the bravery and wisdom, Rhine must also deal with her heart. She struggles with the ever-present inner battles of caring versus hatred for Linden and her quilt over what the repercussions of her departure might mean to Cecily, the youngest of Rhine’s 2 sister wives. While there are some rather sensitive topics touched upon within the pages of Wither, such as kidnapping, murder, and forcible confinement, these issues are conveyed in a manner that readers will find rather gentle and quite suited to the premise of the story. DeStefano shares with us a rather unique view of our future. One that, if man doesn’t stop “messing with nature”, I believe readers will find quite conceivable.
Date published: 2011-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful debut. "Wither takes place in a dystopian future. It’s a world where man has finally found a cure for every disease … A perfect utopia. Unfortunately, the side effects that the perfect first generation face are causing their children to die. Every birth is a death sentence. In Wither, men die at age 25 and women don’t live past age 20. Somehow, this “cure” could turn into the end of the human race. To keep mankind alive girls are stolen, captured, and sold to wealthy men for the sole purpose of reproducing. Groups of girls are taken and the ones that become wives are the lucky ones, because all the rest are thrown away. Rhine is sixteen when she is snatched from her New York home. She knows what this means. If she survives she will be forced to enter in a polygamous marriage. It’s a good thing that Rhine had the memory of her twin brother and ivy covered home, because it was too easy to forget where she came from, once she became Governor Linden’s wife. Wither grabbed me from the moment I opened the cover. I was down with a horrible cold when I started it, and even in my semi-lucid state I was drawn into this story. There was never a moment where I did not want to know what was going to happen. I simply, could not get enough of Wither. I’m still carrying it around with me. There’s beauty in this writing. True beauty. It’s really the first time I’ve felt it with my whole heart. The writing just completely captures you and you’re able to picture everything that Rhine is seeing. I found it amazing that all this beauty can still be seen within the tragedy. Rhine is one of the most inspiring heroines I have ever read. From the beginning I found her spirit mirrored Katniss Everdeen’s (The Hunger Games). If you are not a fan of The Hunger Games do not let that stop you from picking up Wither. Rhine is a force all her own. She has such a strong will and she knows who she is. Having said that, she is not immune to the hardships she encounters. She, like everyone, has limits, and can lose herself when faced with impossible tragedy. I loved that Rhine found comfort in New York City. I think it really showed something about her character that she felt safest in an industrial district. That is merely one of the traits that makes Rhine so relatable. Lauren DeStefano has created such complex characters with so many layers that I cannot wait to learn more about them. There is immense pain written into this story, and you really feel for all the characters. Sometimes the villains don’t even seem so villainous. The world may be ready to give up, but Rhine would fight for her freedom until her dying breath. Wither made me very thankful for everything I have, and everything I take for granted." Quoted myself from readandriot.blogspot.com
Date published: 2011-02-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The world is withering away.. and everyone's shackin up Wither is the first book in the Chemical Garden trilogy. It is a beautifully written book (to match the appealing cover) that will definitely send you into a thought provoking tailspin. Rhine is a 16 year old young lady living in a dystopian world, where everyone with the exception of people in their 50’s ( referred to as the first generations) are genetically engineered. These unfortunate souls only live a short life span. The females live to the age of 20 and the males live to the age of 25. Like clockwork, this mysterious virus takes its toll when they hit that dreaded age and they are taken from the earth far too early in life. With such a short life span, the way of human life is different. Rhine is a victim of kidnapping due to this doomed world. She is taken by the Gatherers and is sold off to the rich and privileged who live the polygamist lifestyle. Rhine wakes up in a luxurious mansion filled with anything one can desire, but everything in the world can’t replace what’s been stolen from her in the first place. Her twin brother and her freedom. Rhine is forced into marrying a man, Linden, not much older than herself, along with two other girls. That’s not even the worst part, Linden is still married to the love of his life, who is on her death bead, withering away from the virus which will claim them all. As for the other two new wives, one is older than her, Jenna, and she seems as unwilling to be there as Rhine is. The other is younger with a fired up and spoiled spirit, Cecily, and she seems to be on the top of the world to be marrying a man she’s never met. Rhine is able to put on her poker face and adjust to this way of life for the time being, but she never loses sight of what she really wants while she watches everyone around her just accept this trapped and brainwashed everyday life. She may have a short life but she is willing to make it shorter to just fight her way back to freedom, where she won’t have to be a forced wife and baby maker. While living her forced life, she unexpectedly falls for a forbidden person who warms her soul just as much as the thought of freedom does. However, with unexpected blossoming relationships within this luxurious and personal jail, Rhine finds herself perplexed by her feelings for sister wives and obligatory husband who make her see this routine of life isn’t as black and white as she first thought. I haven’t ventured into dystopian style books yet, so this is my first. I loved the writing style, which has a smooth and effortless feel to it. There are aspects in this book where it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Polygamy underage glossed over sex might offend some people, but I wouldn’t let it discourage you from reading this book. It is good to try something new, even if its unsettles you at first. I think this type of book is meant to make us think of where the world is going, and that trying to control natural selection can’t be done without enormous consequences. The characters are strong and if we lived in that world, they‘d be easy to relate to. I do pity the women though, 3 women, one man that’s just not good math my friend. Satisfaction would be hard to come by. The ending was all at the same time sad, bittersweet and hopeful with a side order of anticipation for the next book. There isn’t much action in the book, if that’s what you’re looking for, but I suggest you read it just to try something new, especially if you haven’t ventured into this genre yet. I was lucky to win this copy as an ARC from Simon and Schuster and I will be purchasing the follow up, but, hey, I’d love to get that one for free too.
Date published: 2011-01-10

Read from the Book

I wait. They keep us in the dark for so long that we lose sense of our eyelids. We sleep huddled together like rats, staring out, and dream of our bodies swaying. I know when one of the girls reaches a wall. She begins to pound and scream—there’s metal in the sound—but none of us help her. We’ve gone too long without speaking, and all we do is bury ourselves more into the dark. The doors open. The light is frightening. It’s the light of the world through the birth canal, and at once the blinding tunnel that comes with death. I recoil into the blankets with the other girls in horror, not wanting to begin or end. We stumble when they let us out; we’ve forgotten how to use our legs. How long has it been—days? Hours? The big open sky waits in its usual place. I stand in line with the other girls, and men in gray coats study us.   I’ve heard of this happening. Where I come from, girls have been disappearing for a long time. They disappear from their beds or from the side of the road. It happened to a girl in my neighborhood. Her whole family disappeared after that, moved away, either to find her or because they knew she would never be returned. Now it’s my turn. I know girls disappear, but any number of things could come after that. Will I become a murdered reject? Sold into prostitution? These things have happened. There’s only one other option. I could become a bride. I’ve seen them on television, reluctant yet beautiful teenage brides, on the arm of a wealthy man who is approaching the lethal age of twenty-five. The other girls never make it to the television screen. Girls who don’t pass their inspection are shipped to a brothel in the scarlet districts. Some we have found murdered on the sides of roads, rotting, staring into the searing sun because the Gatherers couldn’t be bothered to deal with them. Some girls disappear forever, and all their families can do is wonder. The girls are taken as young as thirteen, when their bodies are mature enough to bear children, and the virus claims every female of our generation by twenty. Our hips are measured to determine strength, our lips pried apart so the men can judge our health by our teeth. One of the girls vomits. She may be the girl who screamed. She wipes her mouth, trembling, terrified. I stand firm, determined to be anonymous, unhelpful.   I feel too alive in this row of moribund girls with their eyes half open. I sense that their hearts are barely beating, while mine pounds in my chest. After so much time spent riding in the darkness of the truck, we have all fused together. We are one nameless thing sharing this strange hell. I do not want to stand out. I do not want to stand out. But it doesn’t matter. Someone has noticed me. A man paces before the line of us. He allows us to be prodded by the men in gray coats who examine us. He seems thoughtful and pleased. His eyes green, like two exclamation marks, meet mine. He smiles. There’s a flash of gold in his teeth, indicating wealth. This is unusual, because he’s too young to be losing his teeth. He keeps walking, and I stare at my shoes. Stupid! I should never have looked up. The strange color of my eyes is the first thing anyone ever notices. He says something to the men in gray coats. They look at all of us, and then they seem to be in agreement. The man with gold teeth smiles in my direction again, and then he’s taken to another car that shoots up bits of gravel as it backs onto the road and drives away. The vomit girl is taken back to the truck, and a dozen other girls with her; a man in a gray coat follows them in. There are three of us left, the gap of the other girls still between us. The men speak to one another again, and then to us. “Go,” they say, and we oblige. There’s nowhere to go but the back of an open limousine parked on the gravel. We’re off the road somewhere, not far from the highway. I can hear the distant sounds of traffic. I can see the evening city lights beginning to appear in the distant purple haze. It’s nowhere I recognize; a road this desolate is far from the crowded streets back home. Go. The two other chosen girls move before me, and I’m the last to get into the limousine. There’s a tinted glass window that separates us from the driver. Just before someone shuts the door, I hear something inside the van where the remaining girls were herded. It’s the first of what I know will be a dozen more gunshots. I awake in a satin bed, nauseous and pulsating with sweat. My first conscious movement is to push myself to the edge of the mattress, where I lean over and vomit onto the lush red carpet. I’m still spitting and gagging when someone begins cleaning up the mess with a dishrag. “Everyone handles the sleep gas differently,” he says softly. “Sleep gas?” I splutter, and before I can wipe my mouth on my lacy white sleeve, he hands me a cloth napkin— also lush red. “It comes out through the vents in the limo,” he says. “It’s so you won’t know where you’re going.” I remember the glass window separating us from the front of the car. Air tight, I assume. Vaguely I remember the whooshing of air coming through vents in the walls. “One of the other girls,” the boy says, as he sprays white foam onto the spot where I vomited, “she almost threw herself out the bedroom window, she was so disoriented. The window’s locked, of course. Shatterproof.” Despite the awful things he’s saying, his voice is low, possibly even sympathetic. I look over my shoulder at the window. Closed tight. The world is bright green and blue beyond it, brighter than my home, where there’s only dirt and the remnants of my mother’s garden that I’ve failed to revive. Somewhere down the hall a woman screams. The boy tenses for a moment. Then he resumes scrubbing away the foam. “I can help,” I offer. A moment ago I didn’t feel guilty about ruining anything in this place; I know I’m here against my will. But I also know this boy isn’t to blame. He can’t be one of the Gatherers in gray who brought me here—he’s too young, possibly my age. Maybe he was also brought here against his will. I haven’t heard of teenage boys disappearing, but up until fifty years ago, when the virus was discovered, girls were also safe. Everyone was safe. “No need. It’s all done,” he says. And when he moves the rag away, there’s not so much as a stain. He pulls a handle out of the wall, and a chute opens; he tosses the rags into it, lets go, and the chute clamps shut. He tucks the can of white foam into his apron pocket and returns to what he was doing. He picks up a silver tray from where he’d placed it on the floor, and brings it to my night table. “If you’re feeling better, there’s some lunch for you. Nothing that will make you fall asleep again, I promise.” He looks like he might smile. Just almost. But he maintains a concentrated gaze as he lifts a metal lid off a bowl of soup and another off a small plate of steaming vegetables and mashed potatoes cradling a lake of gravy. I’ve been stolen, drugged, locked away in this place, yet I’m being served a gourmet meal. The sentiment is so vile I could almost throw up again. “That other girl—the one who tried to throw herself out the window—what happened to her?” I ask. I don’t dare ask about the woman screaming down the hall. I don’t want to know about her. “She’s calmed down some.” “And the other girl?” “She woke up this morning. I think the House Governor took her to tour the gardens.” House Governor. I remember my despair and crash against the pillows. House Governors own mansions. They purchase brides from Gatherers, who patrol the streets looking for ideal candidates to kidnap. The merciful ones will sell the rejects into prostitution, but the ones I encountered herded them into the van and shot them all. I heard that first gunshot over and over in my medicated dreams. “How long have I been here?” I say. “Two days,” the boy says. He hands me a steaming cup, and I’m about to refuse it when I see the tea bag string dangling over the side, smell the spices. Tea. My brother, Rowan, and I had it with our breakfast each morning, and with dinner each night. The smell is like home. My mother would hum as she waited by the stove for the water to boil. Blearily I sit up and take the tea. I hold it near my face and breathe the steam in through my nose. It’s all I can do not to burst into tears. The boy must sense that the full impact of what has happened is reaching me. He must sense that I’m on the verge of doing something dramatic like crying or trying to fling myself out the window like that other girl, because he’s already moving for the door. Quietly, without looking back, he leaves me to my grief. But instead of tears, when I press my face against the pillow, a horrible, primal scream comes out of me. It’s unlike anything I thought myself capable of. Rage, unlike anything I’ve ever known.  

Editorial Reviews

"This absorbing page-turner may remind some readers of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games with its fearless heroine, sinister villain, bleak landscape and poignant romance. Wither is less violent but is in many ways even more terrifying as DeStefano proves herself a master of plot, setting, character and psychological suspense." --The Buffalo News