Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Publish Date:  March 22, 2011
ISBN:  978-1-4424-0905-7
Pages:  358
Jacket Photographs:  Ali Smith
Jacket Design: Lizzy Bromley

Rhine Ellery lives in a world where genetic tinkering brought to life all our fears.  The first generation of genetically altered children were strong, healthy and lived long lives.  Following generations didn't fare as well.  Males die by the age of 25 and females by the age of 20.

Young girls (as young as 13) are captured to become sister-wives to rich men or to serve in prostitution houses.  The married girls are forced to bear children to keep humanity going...and maybe to be tinkered with to see if the genetic issues can be remedied.

Rhine is kidnapped at 16 and forced to marry a young man, Linden.  She has a wedding ceremony with two sister-wives, Jenna (13) and Cecily (17).  I will say that the characters are wonderfully done.  I started out hating Linden, but finally decided that he is really a pawn for his father and he does, in his own way, care for each of the girls.  Jenna was an orphan and is truly excited to be a wife and mother.  Cecily was a prostitute and just doesn't care what happens.  Over them all is Linden's father - he comes across as simply evil.

It was interesting to see that Ms. DeStefano chose to use polygamy for her story.  I can see where the set up works for her story.  However, I'm not convinced of the way it played out.  I mean, if you want multiple brides to produce lots of children, wouldn't you... (a) test them to ensure fertility?  (b) carry through with the act of creation with all of them?

There were many aspects of the story that left me wondering.  For instance, the child seamstresses - how do they learn their trade so quickly and efficiently?  Why do some of the servants come across as old...or is that just me?  Who does the farming and building?  Is there business and religion?  I mean, in a situation such as this, religion always comes to the forefront.  I expected at the least, to have pockets of religious fanatics yelling about repenting your sins.  Religion seemed strangely missing as did explanation of how the young children learned and became so good at their trade - I mean, 20 -25 years isn't a lot of time to learn a trade (beginning as a child).

In the end, if you just ignore these questions, it's a beautiful story.  If you're like me, you're hoping that there's more and that all this will be explained.


  1. That was really interesting to read your review, because I've been hearing so many about it being amazing. I'll keep your thoughts in mind as I read the book!

  2. I did think it was really good when I read it at first...then I started analyzing it and that's when it went downhill for I think that if the questions are answered, I'll like it better.