Sunday, October 21, 2012


Wither by Lauren Destefano

Being a sucker for "weird things that happen to the human race that isn't necessarily doom but leads to the downfall and dismal trail of society becoming trashed", I had to pick up Wither.

The premise of the world for Wither is seemingly simple; they've cured cancer and essentially every genetically related ailment, but all the children of those who been 'cured'; well the females die at age 20 and the males die at age 25. They don't know why, the scientists are scrambling for a cure, and there's two movements that are hinted at but aren't really delved into.

So our heroine is Rhine; she's sixteen years old, and has a twin brother Rowan. Their parents were scientists from the cured generation. It's referred to as the "First Generation" (the cured generation). One day, Rhine is kidnapped from her brother and thrown into a van with a lot of other girls. The Gatherers have taken her. The Gatherers are people who take young women to be sold off as brides to the wealthy, or taken to brothels  or what have you; essentially human trafficking. Rhine is taken and is put into a line with the other girls and is forced to let men evaluate her and determine her worth. She is selected along with two other girls, and is forced into a limousine. Before she can quite make it in, she sees the other girls going back into the van and in horror, hears gunshots. The other girls have been killed.

Rhine is thrown through hurtles of being prepared to become a first generation's son's wife; along with the two other girls. The three of them are to be sister wives.

The story goes on for much longer and I'm sure there are lots of descriptions available online but that's all that's relevant that I'm going to talk about.

So, first things first; pretty sure I have a bit of a crush on this book. Pretty damn sure. Rhine is certainly an enigma as she withholds her true personality from her kidnappers but develops a tentative bond with her sister wives. The entire time of her imprisonment, she remains focused on returning to her brother, Rowan; but cannot help but begin to care for those that surround her. It's interesting how Rhine's story seems to be the epitome of what can be achieved in this society as a 'cursed' female and we see the seemingly 'common' stand point on how girls view being kidnapped and forced into marriage through the different attitudes of the sister wives.

I enjoyed the sense of it being a post apocalyptic world without a MAJOR world disaster. It seems that this book is the highest commentary on humans playing 'god' by trying to cure everything, and it dooms the human race to die out because they're not able to reproduce with a long enough life span to truly build on the ruins that their society is falling into.

I do like how Rhine is trapped in a mansion (wife to a wealthy first generation's son) and she sees the beauty within it but recognizes the illusion. It's as if even though there is so much beauty, she will never forget the value of freedom and feels bad for those that won't understand that they don't have freedom (like her husband). But then again, I wondered if Rhine realized what the freedom of the world meant outside the mansion without her brother Rowan.

All in all, I sincerely cannot WAIT to get my hands on the sequel. I enjoyed Rhine's narration, and how well rounded the character's attitude was. I enjoyed how we, as the reader, got to see everything from Rhine's perspective with seemingly nothing withheld while she didn't painstakingly drag out any particular moment for way too long. The pacing was perfect.

On a side note, at the end of my copy of Wither, there is a bunch of questions for a reading group guide which delighted me as I don't think they're common in the back of the book anymore. I also would suggest this to be a delightfully awkward book for high school freshman to read as it does cover sex, marriage, and also shows the grotesque side of pregnancy without having a first person narration of it. In a possible future world kind of way.

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