Wither by Lauren DeStefano — The Unofficial Review

So..here’s the thing. I read Wither by Lauren DeStefano last December. My dear friend Steph from Steph Su Reads passed it on to me one night while we hung out because I was SUPER bummed I didn’t get it in my mailbox along with everyone else. I immediately came home, curled up next to my fireplace (my preferred reading spot in the winter) and read all night long. Literally. I read and LOVED Wither last December and here I am now writing about it. Why might you ask?

This may sound like a cop-out but I couldn’t review it. I loved it SO much that I just needed to let it be. I expressed my love on Twitter and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads and let it be done. I just finished Fever last night (OMG so good!) and I felt really strong urge to express my feelings about Wither before I do so at some later juncture about Fever. This is not a review. I’m simply going to give you my reading experience with Wither and that will be that.

Reading Wither to me was reminiscent to my childhood reading. When I was younger my imagination was so alive that descriptions in books were incredibly vivid to the point where I really felt oppressed by the weight of living on the prairie or as an orphan in a boxcar. This is how Wither was to me…at 25 years old with a imagination that rarely gets used. It made me remember why I love reading in general. The world that Lauren DeStefano creates in Wither became a very real place and the mood pulsed through my veins so much so that I don’t recall ever remembering that others went to bed and that the fireplace went out. I felt despair and anguish with Rhine in this foreign place. I felt the coldness that just emanated from the mansion where Rhine was held against her will and that need to survive at all costs. I felt the bond between the sister wives and the way they truly needed each other. Everything was just so real to me.

I wasn’t marred by my need to over analyze the plot or the choices or the style. I didn’t think about anything other the story. I just let it be like I did as a child. There was innocence in that reading. I may not have known about plot devices or climax or anything like that but I knew when I was held captive by a story. I knew that crazy sensation of shaking yourself out of the pages of the book that you were so entangled in and finding yourself back in reality. I knew the feeling of willing more pages to appear because you just weren’t ready to be done with the flimsy few pages that were suddenly left because you plowed through the book at an alarming pace. That is how I felt about this book.

Lauren DeStefano’s writing is undoubtedly beautiful and lush and worthy of being savored. My only regret is not slowing down. I mean, but how could I, I needed to know what happened. Her writing is something to get lost in. This story was something to get lost in. She wrote the characters in a way that they have stuck with me the way a select few do so vividly – wonderful wonderful Rhine with her unbreakable spirit and will to fight. Delicate, naive Cecily who just doesn’t know any better but has more strength than giving credit for. Loveable Gabriel who is certainly worthy of Rhine’s eye. Kind and nurturing Deidre who you forget is so young. Strong, fierce Jenna who is quite a mystery but recognizes the truth. Housemaster Vaughn whose evilness is truly frightening. And Linden. Oh Linden. Perhaps one of my favorite characters. For SO many reasons.  Some of these characters were able to provide that bit of beauty and hope in a world and situation that just seems devoid of life, devoid of hope for the future and devoid of true, unfettered love.

I know of some who had problems with things in the book. I know that I didn’t quite understand the world, how it came to be, why people still wanted to have children, etc. For me, I didn’t need to know or understand for some reason. I knew halfway through that I could never analyze this book to death. I didn’t want to pick it apart. I wanted to enjoy the experience. I’m not saying those of you who had problems with it are wrong. I’m not saying it is a perfect book. I’m just saying that when a book grabs a hold of me and reminds me why I enjoyed reading in the first place…it is time for me to let go and just get lost. And I did. Wholly.

If you haven’t read Wither and enjoy YA dystopian novels, I’d honestly recommend this one. The writing is beautiful, the characters are beyond real and the world is frightening. Even if you don’t read YA but like dystopian novels, I’d honestly still recommend this to you as someone who reads and reviews both YA and adult. In fact, I’d really encourage you to pick it up. I honestly would forget sometimes that I’m reading about a young girl because these characters are in a situation that makes them grow up tremendously…so if that kind of “young POV” thing bothers you..you should know it is not there. Their “age” shows through sometimes but appropriately because they are young girls being forced to be wives and mothers and confront dying at an early age.

Have any of you ever had an experience like this? You loved a book too much to review it? Have a book that honestly made you remember why it is that you love reading?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I actually have this book in my HUGE TBR pile… and I love what you wrote above. Sometimes a review just doesn't do a book justice, but your writing above makes me want to skip this book ahead of others that are patiently waiting to be read. 🙂

  2. Jess (Gone with the Words) says:

    I don't think I've felt so much for a character as I did for Linden. His story breaks my heart most. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

  3. Loved reading about your experience. Delightful. I've never not wanted to review a book, but I have read book that do make me say "THAT'S why I LOVE to read!" The most recent was Goliath (and the first two in the series.) I just love it when an author just takes me by surprise and sweeps me away……

    I have Wither sitting on my desk at home. I need to get to it — I will. Soon.

  4. This is better than a review. I started Wither but you know that sometimes you're not in the mood for a certain book, but I plan to pick it up again.

    I have two books that made me feel this way too this year: Where She Went and Graffiti Moon.

    I'm still thinking about HOW I am going to write the review for the last one.

  5. SweetestLittleBookworm says:

    I just bought Wither about two weeks ago and it is BEAUTIFUL on my shelf. I can't wait to read it.

    But I just finished the Chaos Walking trilogy, and YES I love these books so much that there is no way that I can review them. Maybe some time later, but there is no way I can do it right now. I'm still way too emotional and it's been about a week. Those books WRECKED me and I LOVE it.


  6. Sara (of the Page Sage) says:

    YOU REFERENCED THE BOXCAR CHILDREN. Haha, sorry, but they were my favorite books when I was little!!!

    Wither looks fantastic and I will definitely read it! Thanks for the review!

  7. Melissa (Avid Reader) says:

    I have such a hard time reviewing books I loved. When they're amazing it's so much harder to put your experience into words. Also, definitely want to read Wither now.

  8. I always have trouble reviewing books that I loved. If you check my favorites shelf on Goodreads, you'll see that only about five books on that shelf are reviewed and the reviews are little more than a paragraph.

    As for a book that reminded me of how much I love reading, that would definitely be The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Just looking at the beautiful cover makes me remember how much I love literature. It also helped me find the pleasure in writing again.

  9. Bailey (The Window Seat Reader) says:

    That definitely speaks to the level of books it is when you can't do it justice in a review! You've definitely made me want to find a copy of this one.

  10. SO BEAUTIFUL! I agree, this book is AMAZING. Some other books that I just LOVE and that have reminded me why I love to read are The Hunger Games (SO MUCH LOVE!), Delirium, and The Penderwicks. 🙂

  11. I have a whole stack of books that I don't feel I can write an appropriate review of (including Catching Fire and Mockingjay two of my ALL TIME favorite books in one of my ALL TIME favorite series). I hear this loud and clear. I think sometimes the advantage of time allows me the ability to create reviews with more coherence and clarity.

  12. Pocketful of Books says:

    I think I really need to read this- you've sold it to me!

    I always feel I can't review books I really loved- it's like…where do I start with the gushing!? It's much easier to write a review of an average or a bad book because there'slots to comment on whereas with a good book it can a get a bit repetitive 'I loved this…I loved that…I LOVED EVERYTHING AND WANTED TO EAT IT'. x

  13. This is another book on my shelf waiting for me to read. I might have to bump this up on my reading list. lol.


  1. […] REVIEW HAS SPOILERS FOR WITHER. You can read my review of Wither here. Also, I have NOT spoiled anything that happens in Fever so you can feel free to read this […]

  2. […] Wither by Lauren DeStefano: After the fabulous Steph Su so kindly gave this to me, I immediately went home and did nothing […]