Review: WITHER by Lauren DeStefano

Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1) 
Lauren DeStefano
358 pages
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: March 22nd, 2011
Source: ARC for review
Rating:  LOVED

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden’s servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

Wither hooked my interest from the very first page. You’ll find yourself gasping for air through every sentence, paragraph, and chapter. In a world where every girl’s life ends at the young age twenty, debut author Lauren DeStefano weaves a captivating and tear-jerking story.

Wither opens with sixteen year old Rhine and a group of girls being sold. Too soon, she and two other girls are standing across from a young man who slips a wedding band on their fingers. That’s right, sixteen year old Rhine is married.

Now Rhine has everything, food, warmth, people who serve her. Everything but freedom. And she would do anything to get freedom and her twin brother back. But how far will she go for it?

Although I loved the premise of Wither, I felt like the story never made me happy. How could a world be happy, when females die at the age of 20 and males at 25? Despite the sorrow-filled world, I found myself deeply submerged in it, and unable to pull myself out. As I read, the images of hope, love, and sorrow were clearly imprinted in my mind. I was and still am very impressed at how well Lauren DeStefano wrote her debut novel.

What I really liked about Wither – although it is the first in a trilogy, the ending isn’t much of a cliffhanger, it ends in a way that puts the reader at ease, and at the same time, wanting more. Overall, Wither is an excellent read that will capture your breath from the very first lines and leave you hungry for more after the very last line.

Add WITHER to Goodreads


Hafsah Faizal is a YA author, designer, and blogger. Her designs have graced the sites of New York Times bestselling authors, bloggers, and more. She resides in Texas, with her family.



  1. Reply

    Beth S.

    March 16, 2011

    I am really enjoying this one. I'm only about 40 pages from finishing and it is awesome. In fact, I'm off to go finish it right now…

  2. Reply


    March 16, 2011

    I cannot wait for this book! Thanks for the review!

  3. Reply

    Lauren M

    March 16, 2011

    I really liked Wither, too. Great review! :)

  4. Reply


    March 16, 2011

    this sounds like fictional science and romance and terror all rolled up into one…
    sounds like a nice read…
    nice review…

  5. Reply


    March 16, 2011

    Great review! I've read several reviews of this book and everyone seems to be quite positive. I look forward to reading this one!

  6. Reply

    Christy @ReaderBee

    March 16, 2011

    I'm really looking forward to reading this book. Great review!

  7. Reply


    March 16, 2011

    I have to read it!!!!

  8. Reply


    March 17, 2011

    I just finished reading this. It was a little sad wasn't it? I really liked the writing style…so much of YA is fast paced…I liked that with Wither you had to slow down and enjoy. Great summary and review!

  9. Reply

    Miss Page-Turner

    March 19, 2011

    I am looking forward to Wither's sequel,too although I didn't like Wither that much. I missed some more action. This setting felt so isolated( well, maybe because it is) what really depressed me sometimes. The world DeStefano created is fascinating, need more!

  10. Reply


    March 23, 2011

    I'M looking forward to read this book, love your review.

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    November 29, 2011

    I felt the same way about the ending of Wither! I wasn't left on some horrible cliffhanger that I have trouble remembering when the sequel finally comes out a year later. It was enough, but defiantly left me wanting more. I am eagerly waiting for Fever!

  12. Reply

    Nicole@The More the Merrier

    December 5, 2011

    I'm glad to hear that this book doesn't end with a cliff-hanger that always bugs me a bit. If I liked the first one I will get the next one I don't need to be held in suspense for 6 months to a year.

    Happy to see that you enjoyed this one, I think I'll gave to check it out soon.

  13. Reply


    April 4, 2012

    This book has been on my shelf for a while now I'll have to pick it up soon.
    Great review.

  14. Reply


    November 2, 2012

    I do love the cover. Thanks for the review. I knew about the book but hadn't read anyone's take on it. Now, I look forward to reading it.

  15. Reply


    November 9, 2012

    Awesome review! :) You helped decided when im gonna read it!

  16. Reply


    January 22, 2013

    I’ve been enjoying the more subdued dystopians lately. Like this one. It’s not in your face. At times, it really requires you to interpret what’s going on. That has been more enjoyable for me, instead of the books that are too predictable in their ‘in your face’ mentality. I’m anticipating Fever.

  17. Reply


    January 28, 2013

    The cover of this originally caught my eye. I will definitely have to read this one.

  18. Reply


    February 5, 2013

    I really love this cover. It's SO bloody good. The book is just as good. I really adore the prose that is used. I'm so excited for the last book that's out soon!!