Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cover-to-Cover Commuting: Wither review

I decided to give Wither by Lauren DeStefano a try based on a friend's positive review of the audiobook.  Here are my own thoughts on it.

Also, while I did not finish this review in a timely manner, the review itself is timely for the book: It's been nominated for YALSA's Teen's Top Ten 2012 list!  If you're a teen, you can vote.

Checkouts: Information not available; obtained through inter-library loan
Typical reader: Teen girls who are into dystopian romance
Source: MelCat inter-library loan

Synopsis: After medical science in the future world goes terribly wrong and invariably kills young adults, teen girls such as protagonist/narrator Rhine are kidnapped and married off to repopulate the world.  Rhine yearns for freedom and to be reunited with her twin brother, but also bonds with her sister-wives, the help, and maybe even her wicked husband.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

Wither offers up quite a different world, with fairly adequate world-building.  In Rhine's world, most of the globe was not only devastated by war, it was obliterated; apparently, the rest of the world is covered in ocean thanks to the superior weaponry owned by the North American superpower.  On the medical side of things, cancers and most other diseases have been wiped out.  An engineered generation of perfect humans thrived, and continue to do so as they live healthily into their 70s at present.  Unfortunately, the succeeding generations do not fare so well.  Women die at 20, and men at 25, of some horrific "virus."  Without exception.

Is all of this true?  That is a bit questionable, especially about the ocean-shrouded world.  But that is what Rhine knows, and she's the narrator.  Perhaps the holes will be filled in as the trilogy progresses.

This is definitely a book enhanced by its audio edition.  Angela Lin really won me over to this book.  She's so emotional, and reading the text alone probably wouldn't have captured the feelings as well as her voice did.  The voice acting added so much flavor.  And it got me past issues I might otherwise have with this sort of book, like the love triangle.

Yup.  There's a love triangle.  That blight of YA chick lit.  At least here it's understandable.  Rhine is trapped, forced to marry her captor.  She falls for a manservant, Gabriel.  Gabriel loves her, too.  But so does her captor/husband, Linden.  And as she learns that maybe he isn't so bad after all, she starts to feel a bond with him, too.  I can be generous and attribute it to inevitability through proximity.  She does spend a lot of time with both of them, and gets to know their softer sides.  (Or, I can be cynical and call it Stockholm Syndrome.)

This novel has some mature themes, though the issue of sex is skirted a bit.  Minor spoiler, but Rhine never consummates the marriage with her husband in the course of the book.  The other wives do, though, and the reader can expect the characters to deal with pregnancy, birth, and child-rearing.  There's also the matter of death (though that is a common theme in YA these days), and of medical science gone wrong.


  1. Well, that certainly sounds different. A sort of mix between Logan's Run and a Harlequin romance novel. Not my personal cup of tea, but it must have something going for it if it's been nominated for an award.

  2. I really think the audiobook of this one saves it. I don't know if I would be half as interesting if it wasn't for Angela Lin's awesome narration.