WITHER by Lauren DeStefano Book Review
Series: The Chemical Garden Trilogy, #1
Publication Date: Date
Rating: – Acceptable |
Book Summary: Obviously, something went terribly wrong. Genetic mutations have festered, reducing human longevity to twenty-five, even less for most women. To prevent extinction, young girls are kidnapped, mated in polygamous marriages with men eager to procreate. Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery, a recent victim of this breeding farm mentality, has vowed to break loose from its fetters; but finding allies and a safe way out is a challenge she can only hope she will survive. A dystopian fantasy series starter with wings.
Book Review Overview:
- The concept is intriguing but it just went against my morals/ethics
- The romance felt forced and unnecessary
- But the novel still manages to entertain and the world-building is quite fantastic
I’m surprised that WITHER by Lauren DeStefano has not stirred up more controversy. I found myself having such a hard time picking up this book; not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I did not agree entirely with this dystopian society. In Rhine’s world, humans thought they had perfected medicine. Cancer was cured. Diseases were eradicated. But something had gone wrong. Though the first generation lives full and healthy lives, their children and their children’s children are not so lucky. Women die at 20 and men die at 25. There is no cure. The world is at a chaos trying to make as many babies as possible before the human race dies off.
WITHER by Lauren DeStefano is the kind of book that will make you think hard. It will make you question your morals; it will make you question medicine and ethics. While I love a book that makes me think, WITHER by Lauren DeStefano was also a book that made me frustrated. I found it despicable that girls as young as thirteen were being carted off the streets and basically sold into prostitution. The most frustrating part of the novel is that the main character, Rhine, is unfortunately incapable of changing society. She represents only a tiny fraction of the big problem. The only thing that she can really change is her fate. She cannot find a cure for the disease, nor can she somehow stop the Gatherers from selling girls into prostitution.
However, written in the first-person narrative, I found it quite easy to put myself in Rhine’s shoes. I like how she did not just accept her fate and that she had to play her cards just right to have any chance of escaping. On the other hand, I don’t know if there’s anything particularly striking about her personality that makes her stand out against other protagonists.
It’s very easy to sympathize with Linden as a reader because he is treated as a naive little kid who just lost the love of his life. Despite the fact that Linden is able to go beyond the walls of the mansion, his freedom is severely limited by his overcontrolling father. Though I knew I should sympathize with Linden even just a tiny bit because he was duped by his own father, I still can’t find it in my heart to feel sorry for him. Why? Well, there’s that little fact that he impregnated a thirteen year old. Yes, it was one of the sister wives. Yes, the sex was consensual. But it’s quite obvious that Cecily is still a little kid. Linden has his sweet moments and he is a nice guy. But it is not okay to take advantage of an equally naive and misguided thirteen year old.
And ahem, unnecessary romance much? I just didn’t feel it with Gabriel. I honestly think the romance was completely unnecessary. If I was locked up and forced to be someone’s bride, the last thing I could possibly think about is getting it on with another guy. I didn’t really feel any chemistry between Rhine and Gabriel. I thought the romance felt a bit forced and it was something that sparked out of convenience.
I know I just spewed a bunch of negativity, but despite it all, WITHER is still a rock-solid debut from Lauren DeStefano. Though I never finished reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, WITHER by Lauren DeStefano is reminiscent of the first fifty or so pages of Handmaid’s that I had read. However, I find DeStefano’s writing style to be a lot more accessible.
Furthermore, I admit that the world-building is kind of fantastic. The fact that DeStefano has me so riled up about this society and its amoral characters says something about the writing. DeStefano has the ability to get readers striking conversation and starting debates.
And finally, I guess I have to take back what I previously said about the covers. Okay, they aren’t the most beautiful covers ever, but the cover jacket of WITHER is actually 100% relevant to the novel. Wow, imagine that.
I would definitely recommend WITHER by Lauren DeStefano to fans of dystopian novels like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Matched by Allie Condie. Just be prepared to get your sense of morals and ethics a bit tested.
Why I’m Biased: This is a hyped-up book. I also got my copy of WITHER signed by Lauren DeStefano so I feel obligated to like it.
About the Author
Lauren DeStefano (pronounced: de STEFF ano) graduated Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT in 2007. Her debut novel, WITHER, the first in The Chemical Garden Trilogy, published by Simon & Schuster BFYR, is out now.
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Summary: Some people spend their whole lives looking for the right partner. Nate Schaper found his in high school. In the eight months since their cautious flirting became a real, honest, tell-the-parents relationship, Nate and Adam have been inseparable. Even when local kids take their homophobia to brutal levels, Nate is undaunted. He and Adam are rock solid. Two parts of a whole. Yin and yang.
But when Adam graduates and takes an Off-Broadway job in New York—at Nate’s insistence—that certainty begins to flicker. Nate starts a blog to vent his frustrations and becomes the center of a school controversy, drawing ire and support in equal amounts. But it is the attention of a new boy who is looking for more than guidance that forces him to confront who and what he really wants.
Book Review Overview:
- Heart-wrenching tale that will make you cry and laugh
- Perfectly flawed characters that are so realistic, so inspiring
- You don’t have to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or whatever to read this. Whatever your sexuality is, you will relate.
I didn’t believe the hype before I picked up this book. I needed one more book to read in 2011, and Brent urged me to pick up J.H. Trumble’s DON’T LET ME GO. I already knew that Brent was a massive fan of the book, and since I was in the mood for a contemporary novel, I asked Brent to Lend Me his ebook copy of the novel. I read this in less than 24 hours in two sittings. It’s one of those books where I had to force myself to put it down and go to bed.
Trumble is such a talented writer. I loved the alternation between past and present because it gave a lot of insight on how Nate and Adam’s relationship started and progressed. Furthermore, Trumble has that rare ability to make you cry in one paragraph and laugh out loud in the next. I urge you strongly not to read this in public; your reaction may cause other people to give you weird looks.
DON’T LET ME GO is relatable to everyone because the basis of the novel is the relationship between Nate and Adam. It doesn’t matter that the main characters are gay because the characters are so easy to relate to. Trumble puts you in Adam’s shoes and you feel his heart break. Like Nate, as much as I wanted to trust Adam, I just couldn’t do it. A million different scenarios ran in my mind about all the things that Adam could do to hurt Nate while he was in New York City. I didn’t want to think the worst of Adam, but Trumble made it so difficult not to. In addition to Adam, Nate is also so flawed which made him even more realistic. He’s not perfect either, but he works to make himself a better person. Nate has trust issues and he has to learn to accept that people won’t judge him based on his past. Trumble creates such realistic characters and brilliantly captures what it is like to be in a long distant relationship including the insecurities, trust issues, and the reunions.
Furthermore, DON’T LET ME GO reminded me on how lucky I was to live in a liberal area and have attended such a liberal school. It reminded me that there are teens out there who are not so lucky and who do not have the freedom to be who they want to be. Nate is such an inspiring character to read about because despite the fact that he was bullied and abused, it does not stop him from standing up for what he believes in. He’s inspiring not only to the teens in the novel but also to teens reading the novel. Nate made me want to do something to help gay teens who live in more conservative areas.
I’d highly recommend DON’T LET ME GO to those who are fans of David Levithan’s novels and bittersweet contemporaries. I highly urge you to support this fantastic author and buy this book.
Why I’m Biased: I was influenced by two reviews raving DON’T LET ME GO, written by Ecey and Brent!
About the Author
J.H. Trumble is a Texas native and graduate of Sam Houston State University. You can visit the author online at http://jhtrumble.com and on Facebook and Twitter.
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Summary: It s 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have never used the Internet.
Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM. Josh is her best friend.
They power up and log on and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.
Everybody wonders what their destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out.
- Alternating perspectives with fantastic characters
- Culturally relevant but at the same time a blast into the past of the 90′s
- I can’t wait to buy the finished copy and reread!
If I could describe THE FUTURE OF US using a movie, the obvious choice would be The Social Network. The plots are no where near similar, but the the lasting feeling that I got from watching the film and reading THE FUTURE OF US was the same. I was able to relate to these characters, partially because of a website, but mostly because of the well-written characters.
I admit that I knew nothing about this book before I snatched it up at BEA. I picked it up randomly since I hadn’t read any of Jay Asher’s other works and at the time, I had no idea that he co-wrote it with Carolyn Mackler. When I finally went through my books later that afternoon, I knew that I had something epic when I read the book’s summary. Josh and Emma discover the wonders of Facebook. The problem is, it’s fifteen years in the past just when dial-up Internet is starting to get popular. They discover themselves on Facebook, and at first it’s a bit of a shock.
Asher and Mackler provided me an insight into a world before the technology boom that we have today. I know that the Internet wasn’t widely used in the 90′s. I learned all about it in my Media Studies class this past spring semester – but I wasn’t thrust into their world when I read my media textbook. THE FUTURE OF US is a historical read in a sense where teens were just dying to have beepers – not even cellphones! – and couldn’t talk via Instant Messenger because the people who had IM was very limited. It was definitely a flashback into the past.
I loved the alternating perspectives between Emma and Josh. It made both so relatable knowing what was going on inside their heads. It was so fun to root for the main characters and read about them toy with the destinies. The book is also laugh out loud funny. Just the silly observations that Emma makes about Facebook had me cracking up. Yes, in reality there’s no way a person could have over 350 friends. Emma and Josh had fantastic chemistry and I loved every scene that the two best friends were in.
Since I did get an ARC of this book in May at BEA, I feel like there still could be (and probably will be) substantial changes to the book. This is one of the reasons why I am so excited for this book’s actual release. The changes that can be made can only strengthen the novel and make it even better.
I loved THE FUTURE OF US because it is so culturally relevant at the moment. It made me question my actions online and hesitate before I post a silly Facebook status. THE FUTURE OF US was such a fun read. I hated to put it down, and I wish I could have put my life on hold so I could gobble it up in one sitting. THE FUTURE OF US is a fantastic concept with equally brilliant execution. Do not miss out on this one!
About the Authors
Except for six months in Wyoming, Jay Asher has lived his entire life in California. It was during those six months in Sheridan, Wyoming that he came up with the idea for Thirteen Reasons Why. He has worked at an independent bookstore, a chain bookstore, an outlet bookstore, and two public libraries. Before those jobs, he worked at a shoe store, a trophy shop, and an airline. His very first writing award earned him a free fruit smoothie every day for a year. He has won a lot of awards since then, but that one tasted the best!
Carolyn graduated from Vassar College. When her book The Earth My Butt and Other Big Round Things was named as one of ALAs Top Ten Banned Books of 2006, Carolyn became an advocate against banning books. She lives with her husband and son in New York City.
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