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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Title: Wither
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Genre: Dystopian Young Adult
Release Date: 03/22/11
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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.

Plot: 3.5 Stars
I was never really interested in dystopian Young Adult novels until I read the blurb of this novel. The idea behind this books was fabulously intriguing, and left me wanting to know more. I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy this novel as much as I did, since it does not include any paranormal aspects. It was refreshing to read about viruses or genetics without it going down the zombie road. Although many parts of the novel were gruesome and uncomfortable it still felt real, like this could possibly happen in the future. The one part of this novel that left me wanting more detail was the world-building. Many aspects of what the world has become are only half-explained. We are told, as readers, that North America is the only continent left and that the others are underwater, but it is never explained how this happened. The weather was also a bit of a problem for me, being from Florida. The fact that it snowed during the winter and no one thought it was strange, or explain why it was no longer strange, left me wanting to know what happened to the planet to change the weather patterns. I was truly interested in why the author chose to make it snow in Florida, but with no explaination it feels like there was a lack of research. Hopefully these small issues will be address in future novels.

Pace: 4 Stars
Although the novel doesn't end with a cliffhanger, it still leaves you wanting the next novel immediately. The story has a conclusion, but there are still many loose ends that need to be tied in future novels. The story flowed very well. There were only a few parts in which the actions of some of the characters seemed repetitive. But it's only natural that life would get a little repetitive at the mansion, with so many constraints put on Rhine and her sister wives. While I guessed the ending of the novel about halfway through, the events leading up to the ending were a complete mystery full of twists and turns.

Characters: 4.5 Stars
My favorite part of this novel was the well developed characters and their relationships and actions. I grew more attached than usual to Rhine and her sister wives. Rhine was a very deep characters. She had many layers that she tried to balance. It was very interesting to see how she handled the situation at the mansion, especially when things stopped being so black and white. Cecily was interesting because she gave you a glimpse into what Rhine's life could have been if her circumstances had been just slightly different. Jenna was often kept to herself, but she was there for Rhine when she needed her. I really enjoyed learning more about Linden, their new husband. Not everything is as it seems in regards to Linden, which makes the story more complex. I enjoyed Rose for the short period she was in the novel. Gabriel and a number of the maids and cooks gave a bit of humor and humanity to the story right when it was needed. The father-in-law was very creepy, although I would've liked a bit more detail into his experiments.

Cover: 4 Stars
This cover is absolutely gorgeous. The cover model is styled to perfection. Although this hairdo didn't make an appearance within the novel, it's very eye catching and fits my image of Rhine. The cover model does a great job of conveying the emotions of the novel, really drawing you in. You want to know why she looks so sad. The birdcage, on the other hand, confuses me a little. Although it could be symbolizing the fact that Rhine is trapped throughout the novel, it just left me waiting for a bird or birdcage to be introduced into the plot. Maybe I'm a bit too literal sometimes. My favorite aspect of this cover is the geometric designs around the title, author's name, and cover model's head. This theme is continued throughout the novel with these shapes appearing at the corners of the page, near the page numbers. The colors of the cover were also great choices. The different tones work well together, and the pink used for the title stands out in a great way.

Overall: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I bought this novel for my own reading pleasure.

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