Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Dystopia, Young Adult
Publication Date: 3.22.2011
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 limited time she has left.

Talk about a heart-wrenching beginning! The first chapter of Wither is unapologetically brutal, and it completely grabbed my attention with the harsh realities of this time in the future. DeStefano's writing is beautiful and luring, and kept me reading until the end. In the first chapter alone, it made me feel for the main character...which is amazing.

The story moves slowly, but I never felt like it was too slow. It builds the tension with each thought delivered from the main character, and allows the reader to really get into her head to understand exactly what she is feeling. She has such a great voice, and it really made me think throughout the story. I kept weighing the options she, herself, was weighing.

Each character in Wither is rich in personality, and it only added to the amazing thoughts that were coming from the MC. Though I initially hated one of the sister-wives, I grew to love her. Though I didn't understand another one, I began to feel pity for her. And while I loved yet another sister-wife, I hated her refusal to act. Even the bad guy, who I thought I would hate, I ended up feeling sorry for. The connections that were made in this story were true bonds of friendship and love, and--in a few cases--hate.

Fate, I think, is a thief.
-Wither by Lauren DeStefano

I definitely think this book is more for older teenagers, and yet I can't really name one crystal-clear reason. I believe it is the mature tone of the book, combined with the sexuality, childbearing, and childbirth aspects; all of which are main points in the story. There are also some hard moments dealing with death and murder. DeStefano is able to word these moments in such honesty, that it feels as if you are really living through them. I particularly loved that.

*Slight spoilers*
One thing I noticed is that you aren't going to find many signs of hope in this book; and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The story begins in an end of the world type of setting, where a lot of the population has lost their humanity because there seems to be no hope when everyone dies by the age of 25. Even while the ending was satisfying, it still lacked a significant amount of hope for a better future for the characters.

I know many people won't like that, but it is actually a big part of what made me like the book so much. Things don't end perfectly, and some of the characters have slightly tragic stories. It has a sort of Gothic tale feel to it, and I was surprised and interested to find such when the norm in YA literature is to give huge bursts of hope throughout, and to have happy endings all around. As I closed the book, the questions: Can things ever get better? and What happens now? were still hanging in the air, ready to be processed. Don't get me wrong; there is a happy ending...but not for everybody. I love happy endings, but a less-than-happy ending done right is what really hooks me, and Wither did that.
*End spoilers*

If you are looking for a romantic and thought-provoking tale, this is your book. If you are looking for strong writing and deep characters, this is your book.

It is definitely a favorite of mine.

Read this if:
...you like deep, insightful characters, you like a slow build-up in tension, and you can see the good in even the worst situations.

Content Warning
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
Highlight between the brackets to reveal the text.
{Discussions and hints of underage sexuality, childbearing, and childbirth. While they are not very descriptive, and they are essential to the plot, the point is definitely made with each discussion.}


  1. Great review. I'm on the fence about this one.

  2. Thanks, Juju! I'd love to know what you think of it if you decide to read it. I can see how it could be a controversial book, so I'm interested to see other opinions. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Great review! I read this one recently and loved it. Glad to see you enjoyed it as well :)

  4. Glad you enjoyed this one! I totally agree with you, I lovedddd the feel of the book. The tone was so gothic historical rather than dystopian/sci-fi, which was awesome. And I loved the characters (well, not all of them, obviously... but all of them were so well written).

  5. Tiffany: Thanks for your comment. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it too. :)

    Ashley: Perfectly worded! That's exactly how I felt about the tone of the book. It was so spot on!

  6. Oh thanks for this review, it sounds like a book l would love =)

  7. You're welcome! I'm glad it helped. :)

  8. best book ive eva read and ive read alot of books even if i am only 11 im getting fever for my b-day its at the top of my list

  9. Great review. The story has an interesting premise. I hadn't heard of it. Thanks.

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