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Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: WITHER by Lauren DeStefano

This dystopian read by debut YA novelist Lauren DeStafano is actually the first dystopian novel I've ever read. I know, I can hear the collective gasps. But I didn't read The Hunger Games trilogy. I haven't picked up my copy of Matched yet. But something about this novel called to me. So when a won a copy of the book from a fellow blogger, it went straight to the top of my TBR pile.

That was a wise decision, if I do say so myself.  Here's the goodread's description:

What if you knew exactly when you would die? 

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out. 

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home. 

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

Some of my favorite things:

* The beginning chapter will grab you and pull you right in. Don't think you can just skim the first chapter and come back later. It doesn't work like that.

*  The female characters in particular are extremely well-developed. Rhine, Jenna and Cecily are all distinct, with their own quirks, strengths and weaknesses.

* The first person, present tense voice was extremely well done. It gave such a sense of urgency to the words. And since it's narrated in the present, the reader has no idea if Rhine is going to pull through or not. It was perfectly suspenseful.

*  The novel, while the first in a series, easily stands alone. The ending leaves loads of room for the next book but has such a satisfying end, I'm not going to be pulling my hair out between now and the release of book #2. Sometimes that's almost more motivation to read it...

* The author shows us both sides to some of the main support characters. I love how DeStefano fleshes out the motivations and human frailties. In the end -- well, I don't want to post any spoilers. Let's just say I felt sorry for someone by the end of the story than I didn't go into it thinking I would pity.  Put it that way.

Unsure about:

* And this is where my dystopian virginity is going to show... for the most part, I found the near-future world very well conceived. The visuals are crystal clear and intriguing. But a few things bothered me. Why people die at a certain age.  It's a little convenient, although it does make for an interesting premise! And then there was the weather. Here we are in the future, with enough technology to create genetically perfect individuals, but we can no longer predict hurricanes. So that bothered me. Hurricanes showing up out of the blue and long, snowy winters in Florida. My poor little brain can't wrap around those things.
Okay, you say, that's all you can find to nit-pick about? Pretty much. I give Wither four out of four Greek coins -- a OMG! rating.  If you have any interest in dystopian futures, character-driven plots, or just really good story telling, I'd urge you to give it a read.


LM Preston said...

This one sounds really good! I've been eyeing hit for awhile. Thanks for reviewing it, I've moved it up on my tbr list.

Nikki said...

I can't wait to read this!!

khashway said...

Wow, this book keeps popping up everywhere. I really need to read it soon.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I really need to make the time to read this one. Great review. :)

Gabbie said...

Thanks for the review, you covered many good points and have convinced me to buy Wither sooner rather than later! A job well down :)

Eliza Faith said...

I've been dying to read this!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I enjoyed the book. It was a bit different, I thought.

Annerb said...

I agree with everything you liked. They are the exact same things I really enjoyed about it. My thoughts on the weather side are the world itself was damaged by the people to the point that other continents aren't inhabitable. I figured that imbalance was what messed up the weather, but I didn't linger too long on it. I don't know if that's necessarily right, but it is one explanation.

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